“To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.” – St. Teresa of Ávila
Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, original name Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada (1515-1582; canonized in 1622), was a Spanish nun, and one of the great mystics and religious women of the Roman Catholic church, and author of spiritual classics. She was the originator of the Carmelite Reform, which restored and emphasized the austerity and contemplative character of primitive Carmelite life. St. Teresa was elevated to doctor of the church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, the first woman to be so honored.
Excerpt from The Way of Perfection by Teresa of Ávila
You know that God is everywhere; and this is a great truth, for, of course, wherever the king is, or so they say, the court is too: that is to say, wherever God is, there is Heaven. No doubt you can believe that, in any place where His Majesty is, there is fullness of glory. Remember how Saint Augustine tells us about his seeking God in many places and eventually finding Him within himself.
Do you suppose it is of little importance that a soul which is often distracted should come to understand this truth and to find that, in order to speak to its Eternal Father and to take its delight in Him, it has no need to go to Heaven or to speak in a loud voice?
However quietly we speak, He is so near that He will hear us: we need no wings to go in search of Him but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.
Nor need we feel strange in the presence of so kind a Guest; we must talk to Him very humbly, as we should to our father, ask Him for things as we should ask a father…
Avoid being bashful with God, as some people are, in the belief that they are being humble. It would not be humility on your part if the King were to do you a favour and you refused to accept it…
What sort of humility would it be if I had the Emperor of Heaven and earth in my house, coming to it to do me a favour and to delight in my company, and I were so humble that I would not answer His questions, nor remain with Him, nor accept what He gave me, but left Him alone…
Have nothing to do with that kind of humility, daughters, but speak with Him as with a Father, a Brother, a Lord and a Spouse—and, sometimes in one way and sometimes in another, He will teach you what you must do to please Him… Remember how important it is for you to have understood this truth— that the Lord is within us and that we should be there with Him.
If one prays in this way, the prayer may be only vocal, but the mind will be recollected much sooner; and this is a prayer which brings with it many blessings. It is called recollection because the soul collects together all the faculties and enters within itself to be with God.
Book to Hang Out With – The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Ávila
This classic of the interior life and Christian mysticism remains as fresh and inspiring today as it was 400 years ago. Written by a prominent sixteenth-century Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun, it forms a practical guide to prayer that embraces readers with its warmth and accessibility.
St. Teresa of Avila’s detailed directions on the achievement of spiritual perfection designate three essentials — fraternal love, detachment from material things, and true humility. She discusses a variety of maxims related to the practice of prayer and concludes with a thought-provoking commentary on the Lord’s Prayer. A work of sublime mystical beauty, The Way of Perfection is above all a treatise of utter simplicity that offers lucid instruction to all seekers of a more meaningful way of life.
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