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St. Teresa of Avila

October 15 is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila , a Carmelite mystic, and doctor of the Church. Along with St. John of the Cross she worked to reform the Carmelite order which she felt was too lax. Eventually her work led to the formation of the Discalced Carmelites. She is also called St. Teresa of the Child Jesus.

She’s well-known for her practical approach to spirituality and her writings on prayer and contemplation. Teresa believed in simplicity and sincerity in one’s relationship with God. Her teachings emphasized the importance of inner reflection and direct communication with the divine.

Teresa’s autobiography, “The Life of Teresa of Jesus,” is a candid account of her spiritual journey. She emphasized the need for humility and detachment from worldly distractions. Her famous metaphor of the “Interior Castle” describes the progressive stages of the soul’s journey towards God.

Teresa’s practical advice on prayer includes the “Our Father” as a model for conversation with God. She promoted mental prayer, where one speaks with God as a friend. Her legacy endures through her writings, which continue to guide Catholics seeking a deeper spiritual connection. St. Teresa of Avila’s simple and sincere approach to faith remains an inspiration for many today.

Mystical Visions

St. Teresa of Avila’s life was marked by a profound spiritual experience known as the Transverberation, a moment of divine ecstasy. This event occurred when she was in deep prayer, and according to her accounts, an angel pierced her heart with a fiery arrow, causing intense pain and divine rapture.

While this may sound dramatic, Teresa’s descriptions of the Transverberation are in line with her straightforward and unembellished approach to spirituality. It serves as a powerful example of her unwavering devotion and the depth of her connection with God. The Transverberation is a significant aspect of her life, demonstrating the genuine and unpretentious nature of her spiritual encounters, and it has left a lasting impression on those who seek to understand her unique path to holiness.

When her body was exhumed in 1582, it was incorrupt and found to have a wound from a spear.

Patron Saint of …

St. Teresa of Avila is the patron saint of chess players, lace makers, loss of parents, people in need of grace, people in religious orders, people ridiculed for their piety, and those who are sick.

Daily Mass Readings for the Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

In addition to the suggested readings below, the readings may also be taken from the weekday readings, the Common of Virgins, or the Common of Holy Men and Women.

  • First ReadingRomans 8:22-27: Creation and believers alike are in a state of anticipation for redemption. True hope lies in waiting for the unseen. The Spirit aids our weaknesses, interceding for us according to God’s will.
  • Responsorial PsalmPsalm 19: The law and decrees of the Lord are perfect, trustworthy, and just. They refresh the soul, give wisdom, and are more precious than gold or honey.
  • Gospel John 15:1-8: I am the true vine and my Father is the vine grower. Remain in me to bear fruit; without me, you can do nothing. Bearing fruit glorifies my Father.

Homilies and Reflections

Word on Fire Reflection: St. Teresa of Ávila and the Need to Persist

Teresa lived during a time of religious upheaval in 1515. She was a Carmelite nun who believed in living a simple and strict life. She saw that others in her group were not following these ideals and decided to make a change. Teresa worked hard to bring back the original principles of the Carmelite way and promote simplicity and austerity. It wasn’t easy, and she faced resistance, but she kept going. Eventually, her efforts led to the creation of new, more dedicated Carmelite communities. Teresa’s story teaches us that reform in religious life is important, and we should support those who lead it, even if it’s challenging.

Fr. Richard Rohr: Let Nothing Frighten You

“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing upset you. Everything changes. God alone is unchanging. With patience, all things are possible. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone is enough,” offer wisdom that can soothe our souls. Father Richard Rohr shares his journey with Teresa’s teachings, initially finding them confusing but later discovering their profound impact. Mystics understand that everything will ultimately be alright, inviting us to enjoy divine union now. This transformative encounter extends beyond personal growth; it reshapes our politics, attitudes, and relationships, promoting love and unity. Teresa’s Way of Perfection guides us toward love, nonattachment, humility, and recognizing union, emphasizing that love is the key to progress on our spiritual path.

Quotes and Social Media Graphics

yours are the hands

Christ Has No Body

This beautiful prayer reminds us that we must continue to do the work of God here on earth. A social media graphic and a printable copy are available.

Let nothing disturb you
Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing; God only is changeless. Patience gains all things.Who has God wants nothing. God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Jesus teaches us that prayer is not to experience extraordinary things, but to unite ourselves to Christ. And the works of charity are the sign that this union is real.

Pope Francis

Transverberation of the Heart of St. Teresa of Avila

Our Lord was pleased that I should have at times a vision of this kind: I saw an angel close by me, on my left side, in bodily form. This I am not accustomed to see, unless very rarely. Though I have visions of angels frequently, yet I see them only by an intellectual vision, such as I have spoken of before.

It was our Lord’s will that in this vision I should see the angel in this wise. He was not large, but small of stature, and most beautiful—his face burning, as if he were one of the highest angels, who seem to be all of fire: they must be those whom we call cherubim.

Their names they never tell me; but I see very well that there is in heaven so great a difference between one angel and another, and between these and the others, that I cannot explain it.I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God.

The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.

The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying. During the days that this lasted, I went about as if beside myself. I wished to see, or speak with, no one, but only to cherish my pain, which was to me a greater bliss than all created things could give me.

St. Terese of Avila, in her autobiography

St. Teresa of Avila Baptism and Confirmation Gifts

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