Novena Prayer to St. Teresa of Avila – Mp3 Audio On-Demand and Text

St. Teresa of Avila Novena - Daily mp3 and text

DAY 1: QUALITY SPIRITUAL READING

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St. Teresa you have said:

 “The prioress should see to it that good books are available, especially The Life of Christ by the Carthusian, the Flos Sanctorum, The Imitation of Christ, The Oratory of Religious, and those books written by Fray Luis de Granada and by Father Fray Pedro de Alcantara.  This sustenance for the soul is in some way as necessary as is food for the body.”

—Constitutions 8

In chapter 4 of her autobiography, Teresa recounts the story of a particular visit to her uncle, Pedro Sánchez de Cepeda, wherein he gave her a copy of Francisco de Osuna’s book, the Third Spiritual Alphabet.  It provided the foundations for her spiritual life and remained an important reference for many years.  In time, Teresa added other works to her list of spiritual influences, including those listed in her Constitutions.  It was essential to her spiritual growth and to that of her sisters to be educated by knowledgeable people in the realm of the interior life.

 Through her example and counsel, we are also invited to enrich our faith and our interior lives by reading and studying the writings of the many holy authors whom the Church recommends to us.  Of course, among these, Teresa is one who is especially recommended. Perhaps one way of preparing for the feast during these nine days of novena would be to prayerful read and reflect on one of her writings.

 May she and all of the saintly authors continue to inspire us through their teachings and experience. 

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

 “May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Day 2  INTIMATE AND TRANSFORMATIVE PRAYER

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St. Teresa you have said28-s-teresa-avila

 “Whoever has not begun the practice of prayer, I beg for the love of the Lord not to go without so great a good.  There is nothing here to fear but only something to desire…And if one perseveres, I trust then in the mercy of God, who never fails to repay anyone who has taken him for a friend.  For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.  In order that the love be true and the friendship endure, the wills of the friends must be in accord.”

Autobiography VIII.5

On September 27, 1970, Pope Paul VI proclaimed Teresa a doctor of the Church. In his address, the Pope celebrated Teresa’s gift of spiritual doctrine, a fact underlined by the title written on her statue in the basilica in Ávila: Mater Spiritualium (the Mother of Spirituality). She certainly merits this title.

Her writings are not theoretical abstracts, but concrete lessons drawn from her own experience and interaction with the Divine. In entering the struggle of spiritual growth, she came to discover some very important truths about the process of prayer, the truth of God and the realization of self in this context. She realized in a very real and personal way Jesus’ words: “I call you friends.”

Learning from Teresa, let us make ample space for prayer, taking time and having the courage to open ourselves to all of the possibilities that lie open to us when we enter this deep and profound relationship, including our own transformation in God and His love.

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

 “May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Day 3:  THE CENTRALITY OF THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST

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St. Teresa you have saidteresa_davila-740x493

“The thought comes to me now that our good Jesus showed us the weakness of His humanity previous to the trials, and when He was in the abyss of His sufferings showed such great fortitude that He not only did not complain but did nothing that would make it appear He was suffering with weakness. When He went to the garden, He said: My soul is sorrowful even to death. Yet, while on the cross, for He was already suffering death, He did not complain.”
—Meditations on the Song of Songs III.11.

Teresa desired to share her reflections on the Song of Songs, a rather daring act for her time.  Her ponderings on Songs 1:2, led her to describe the peace and union granted the soul, opening the person to the possibility of accepting trials in the service of God, opportunities that also bring one’s weaknesses and limitations to the fore.  Desiring to encourage her sisters, she looks to Christ’s own experience during his Passion.

Indeed, the humanity of Christ plays a crucial role in her doctrine on prayer.  In his Incarnation, he expresses the profundity of God’s love for humanity, and is the perfect mediator between the two.  Moreover, his earthly life serves as the example and guide for our spiritual growth.  In this way, he leads us to discover our true selves as we

Thus, as we continue to pray through the intercession of the saint, let us recognize that she invites us to be in love with Jesus Christ, Emanuel, “God-with-us.”

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

 “May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Day 4: THE SOUL

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St. Teresa you have saidsaint_teresa_-avila_639

“It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places.  For in reflecting upon it carefully, Sisters, we realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight…I don’t find anything comparable to the magnificent beauty of a soul and its marvelous capacity.  Indeed, our intellects, however keen, can hardly comprehend it, just as they cannot comprehend God’ but He Himself says that He created us in His own image and likeness.”

—Interior Castle I:1.1

Teresa uses a variety of images to describe the soul, likening it to a beehive, a garden, and in this case, a castle.  In doing so, she attempts to explain its innate fecund richness brought about through its creation.  

Made in the image and likeness of God, our souls mirror the Divine in our natural interior profundity and in our capacity to do His loving and saving will.  Moreover, our souls are where Christ resides and interacts with us, and desires to permeate with his light.  The experience of God, therefore, is not something beyond the human experience, but intimately connected to it.  Indeed, the work of personal transformation takes place in this interior environment

May we learn from Teresa how to appreciate and care for our souls, that we may radiate Christ to others and give thanks to God for making us his home.

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Day 5: HUMILITY

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“O Eternal Father!  How much this humility deserves.  What treasure do we have that could buy Your Son?  The sale of Him, we already know, was for thirty pieces of silver.  But to buy Him, no price is sufficient.  Since by sharing in our nature He has become one with us here below—and as Lord of His own will—He reminds the Father that because He belongs to Him the Father in turn can give Him to us.  And so He says, “our bread.”  He doesn’t make any difference between Himself and us, but we make one by not giving ourselves up each day for His Majesty.”

—Way of Perfection XXXIII.5

Teresa composed these words as she reflected on the words of the Our Father: “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Her meditation on this phrase brought her immediately to Christ’s experience of the passion and its significance for her and her contemporaries.  For her, Jesus is the foundation and model of humility in the spiritual life.

Humility plays an important role in interior progress, because through it we come to appreciate and understand the beauty of our souls and our limitations, to gradually cede control of our lives to God in faith and trust and develop a sensibility for perceiving and carrying out His will, to love others properly, and to accept and cherish the depth of the love God has for us.  

So let us ask for the grace of humility, that we may grow in truthful relationship with God, ourselves, and others.

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Day 6: HELL

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“A long time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell…The fact is that I don’t know how to give a sufficiently powerful description of that interior fire and that despair, coming in addition to such extreme torments and pains.  I didn’t see who inflicted them on me, but, as it seemed to me, I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.”

—Autobiography XXXII.1,2

Teresa experiences the vision described above within the context of God’s salvific action, both universal and personal, in order that she might understand the torments from which she was freed because of His mercy, and also to motivate her to realize her personal vocation of reform.

The theme of hell appears often in her writings, and underlines humanity’s gift of free will and its natural consequences.  The redemption wrought by Christ is intended for all, and the Divine plan is that all should be saved, but this does not preclude one’s possibility to choose.  Hell is the result of a lifetime of choices made of separating oneself from God through sin, resulting in the suffocating experience of being completely bound in the darkness of God’s absence, without freedom and without hope.

 Not wanting to see others end like this, Teresa exercised her own free will, dedicating her life to participating in Christ’s own saving action via her life of prayer.  May we, like Teresa, give thanks to God for the truths revealed to us about eternal life, for our redemption through Christ’s blood, and for the gift of free will that allows us to choose and love him freely.  Let us also pray for all those who most need our prayers for conversion of heart today.

 St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Day 7: SURRENDER

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St. Teresa you have said0a5daad23948453cc1c0c069d1f321e1

Myself surrendered and given,
The exchange is this:
My Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.
When the gentle Hunter
Wounded and subdued me,
In love’s arms,
My soul fallen;
New life receiving,
Thus did I exchange
My Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.
The arrow he drew
Full of love,
My soul was made one
With her Creator.
Other love I want not,
Surrendered now to my God,
That my Beloved is for me,
And I am for my Beloved.

—On Those Words “Dilectus Meus Mihi”

This beautiful poem is the result of Teresa’s reflection on Songs 2:16: “My Beloved belongs to me and I to him.” In her verse, she expresses a fundamental truth of the interior journey: God himself initiates and sustains the relationship, and invites us to surrender to Him in faith.  Our efforts of self-renunciation, sacrifice and humility about which Teresa constantly discusses in her writings are our personal response to this love.  In renouncing ourselves, we allow the Lord to unite us to Himself.

Let us not tire of making our sacrifices of love, but instead take courage, sure in the knowledge that we are already loved.

St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

“Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Day 8:  VIRTUES

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St. Teresa you have saidteresa-de-avilaquadro-pintado-por-frei-joao-da-miseria

“I repeat, it is necessary that your foundation consist of more than prayer and contemplation.  If you do not strive for the virtues and practice them, you will always be dwarfs.  And, please God, it will be only a matter of not growing, for you already know that whoever does not increase decreases.  I hold that love, where present, cannot possibly be content with remaining always the same.”

—Interior Castle VII:4.9

Teresa writes these words toward the end of her description of the interior journey, when the soul arrives at union.  Fundamental to spiritual progress is the development of a life of virtue, as virtues and prayer shape one another.  In the context of Teresa’s definition of prayer as the intimate sharing between friends, virtues are all that we do and suffer for the love of God our great friend.  Therefore, engagement in recollection helps us to cultivate practices to enhance our relationship with God, while the continue exercise of these virtues helps us to be gradually more receptive to interacting with Him.

In our prayer today, let us ask for the grace to develop and grow in lives of virtue, that God’s love for us may be expressed and nurtured in our love for Him.

St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

“Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Day 9: CHARITY

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St. Teresa you have saidpeter_paul_rubens_138

The blessings gained through true poverty I think are many, and I wouldn’t want to lose them.  I am often aware of a faith within me so great that I think God cannot fail anyone who serves Him.  I know that there never is or will be any time in which His words will fail; for I cannot persuade myself otherwise, nor can I fear…It seems to me I have much more compassion for the poor than I used to.  I feel such great pity and desire to find relief for them that if it were up to me I would give them the clothes off my back.  I feel no repugnance whatsoever toward them, toward speaking to or touching them.  This I now see is a gift given by God.  For even though I used to give alms for love of Him, I didn’t have the natural compassion.  I feel a very noticeable improvement in this matter.”

—Spiritual Testimonies II.3-4

 

According to Teresa, while interior development necessarily involves continued progress in self-knowledge and self-awareness, it is not egotistical, because it also encourages us to look beyond ourselves to God and to others.  Thus progress in the spiritual life really authenticates itself in charity.  God’s love, as the evangelist John tells us, is for all, and is so profound that He sent His Son for our redemption.  For those engaged in a life of prayer, we must also love with this Divine love.  It is a transformative love that changes the way we see and approach our fellow men and women, as Teresa illustrates in the passage above.

 

May we, therefore, learn to love others with the love that God loves us, that our prayer may be truly perfected.  
St. Teresa speaks to us today saying:

“Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

O God, who through your Spirit
raised up Saint Teresa of Jesus
to show the Church the way to seek perfection,
grant that we may always be nourished
by the food of her heavenly teaching
and fired with longing for true holiness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St. Teresa, pray for us:
That we may become worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

reflection written by Fr. Emiel Albalahin, O.Carm. Used by permission via the  Curia Generalizia dei Carmelitani  Please visit http://www.ocarm.org/en/

The prayer offered by Dr. Matthew Bunson and Kris McGregor

Audio versions of the “Interior Castle” and “The Way of Perfection” by St. Teresa of Avila

Here are other items you may wish to listen to during your 9-Days of prayer and reflection with St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila shows that time spent in prayer is not lost

TERESA OF AVILA: CONTEMPLATIVE AND INDUSTRIOUS

VATICAN CITY, 2 FEB 2011 (vatican.va) –

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the course of the Catecheses that I have chosen to dedicate to the Fathers of the Church and to great theologians and women of the Middle Ages I have also had the opportunity to reflect on certain Saints proclaimed Doctors of the Church on account of the eminence of their teaching.

Today I would like to begin a brief series of meetings to complete the presentation on the Doctors of the Church and I am beginning with a Saint who is one of the peaks of Christian spirituality of all time — St Teresa of Avila [also known as St Teresa of Jesus].

St Teresa, whose name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515. In her autobiography she mentions some details of her childhood: she was born into a large family, her “father and mother, who were devout and feared God”, into a large family. She had three sisters and nine brothers.

While she was still a child and not yet nine years old she had the opportunity to read the lives of several Martyrs which inspired in her such a longing for martyrdom that she briefly ran away from home in order to die a Martyr’s death and to go to Heaven (cf.Vida,[Life], 1, 4); “I want to see God”, the little girl told her parents.

A few years later Teresa was to speak of her childhood reading and to state that she had discovered in it the way of truth which she sums up in two fundamental principles.

On the one hand was the fact that “all things of this world will pass away” while on the other God alone is “for ever, ever, ever”, a topic that recurs in her best known poem: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices”. She was about 12 years old when her mother died and she implored the Virgin Most Holy to be her mother (cfVida, I, 7).

If in her adolescence the reading of profane books had led to the distractions of a worldly life, her experience as a pupil of the Augustinian nuns of Santa María de las Gracias de Avila and her reading of spiritual books, especially the classics of Franciscan spirituality, introduced her to recollection and prayer.

When she was 20 she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, also in Avila. In her religious life she took the name “Teresa of Jesus”. Three years later she fell seriously ill, so ill that she remained in a coma for four days, looking as if she were dead (cfVida, 5, 9).

In the fight against her own illnesses too the Saint saw the combat against weaknesses and the resistance to God’s call: “I wished to live”, she wrote, “but I saw clearly that I was not living, but rather wrestling with the shadow of death; there was no one to give me life, and I was not able to take it. He who could have given it to me had good reasons for not coming to my aid, seeing that he had brought me back to himself so many times, and I as often had left him” (Vida, 7, 8).

In 1543 she lost the closeness of her relatives; her father died and all her siblings, one after another, emigrated to America. In Lent 1554, when she was 39 years old, Teresa reached the climax of her struggle against her own weaknesses. The fortuitous discovery of the statue of “a Christ most grievously wounded”, left a deep mark on her life (cf. Vida, 9).

The Saint, who in that period felt deeply in tune with the St Augustine of the Confessions, thus describes the decisive day of her mystical experience: “and… a feeling of the presence of God would come over me unexpectedly, so that I could in no wise doubt either that he was within me, or that I was wholly absorbed in him” (Vida, 10, 1).

Parallel to her inner development, the Saint began in practice to realize her ideal of the reform of the Carmelite Order: in 1562 she founded the first reformed Carmel in Avila, with the support of the city’s Bishop, Don Alvaro de Mendoza, and shortly afterwards also received the approval of John Baptist Rossi, the Order’s Superior General.

In the years that followed, she continued her foundations of new Carmelite convents, 17 in all. Her meeting with St John of the Cross was fundamental. With him, in 1568, she set up the first convent of Discalced Carmelites in Duruelo, not far from Avila.

In 1580 she obtained from Rome the authorization for her reformed Carmels as a separate, autonomous Province. This was the starting point for the Discalced Carmelite Order.

Indeed, Teresa’s earthly life ended while she was in the middle of her founding activities. She died on the night of 15 October 1582 in Alba de Tormes, after setting up the Carmelite Convent in Burgos, while on her way back to Avila. Her last humble words were: “After all I die as a child of the Church”, and “O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another”.

Teresa spent her entire life for the whole Church although she spent it in Spain. She was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1614 and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622. The Servant of God Paul VI proclaimed her a “Doctor of the Church” in 1970.

Teresa of Jesus had no academic education but always set great store by the teachings of theologians, men of letters and spiritual teachers. As a writer, she always adhered to what she had lived personally through or had seen in the experience of others (cf. Prologue to The Way of Perfection), in other words basing herself on her own first-hand knowledge.

Teresa had the opportunity to build up relations of spiritual friendship with many Saints and with St John of the Cross in particular. At the same time she nourished herself by reading the Fathers of the Church, St Jerome, St Gregory the Great and St Augustine.

Among her most important works we should mention first of all her autobiography, El libro de la vida (the book of life), which she called Libro de las misericordias del Señor [book of the Lord’s mercies].

Written in the Carmelite Convent at Avila in 1565, she describes the biographical and spiritual journey, as she herself says, to submit her soul to the discernment of the “Master of things spiritual”, St John of Avila. Her purpose was to highlight the presence and action of the merciful God in her life. For this reason the work often cites her dialogue in prayer with the Lord. It makes fascinating reading because not only does the Saint recount that she is reliving the profound experience of her relationship with God but also demonstrates it.

In 1566, Teresa wrote El Camino de Perfección [The Way of Perfection]. She called itAdvertencias y consejos que da Teresa de Jesús a sus hermanas [recommendations and advice that Teresa of Jesus offers to her sisters]. It was composed for the 12 novices of the Carmel of St Joseph in Avila. Teresa proposes to them an intense programme of contemplative life at the service of the Church, at the root of which are the evangelical virtues and prayer.

Among the most precious passages is her commentary on the Our Father, as a model for prayer. St Teresa’s most famous mystical work is El Castillo interior [The Interior Castle]. She wrote it in 1577 when she was in her prime. It is a reinterpretation of her own spiritual journey and, at the same time, a codification of the possible development of Christian life towards its fullness, holiness, under the action of the Holy Spirit.

Teresa refers to the structure of a castle with seven rooms as an image of human interiority. She simultaneously introduces the symbol of the silk worm reborn as a butterfly, in order to express the passage from the natural to the supernatural.

The Saint draws inspiration from Sacred Scripture, particularly the Song of Songs, for the final symbol of the “Bride and Bridegroom” which enables her to describe, in the seventh room, the four crowning aspects of Christian life: the Trinitarian, the Christological, the anthropological and the ecclesial.

St Teresa devoted the Libro de la fundaciones [book of the foundations], which she wrote between 1573 and 1582, to her activity as Foundress of the reformed Carmels. In this book she speaks of the life of the nascent religious group. This account, like her autobiography, was written above all in order to give prominence to God’s action in the work of founding new monasteries.

It is far from easy to sum up in a few words Teresa’s profound and articulate spirituality. I would like to mention a few essential points. In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life and in particular, detachment from possessions, that is, evangelical poverty, and this concerns all of us; love for one another as an essential element of community and social life; humility as love for the truth; determination as a fruit of Christian daring; theological hope, which she describes as the thirst for living water. Then we should not forget the human virtues: affability, truthfulness, modesty, courtesy, cheerfulness, culture.

Secondly, St Teresa proposes a profound harmony with the great biblical figures and eager listening to the word of God. She feels above all closely in tune with the Bride in the Song of Songs and with the Apostle Paul, as well as with Christ in the Passion and with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Saint then stresses how essential prayer is. Praying, she says, “means being on terms of friendship with God frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us” (Vida 8, 5). St Teresa’s idea coincides with Thomas Aquinas’ definition of theological charity as “amicitia quaedam hominis ad Deum”, a type of human friendship with God, who offered humanity his friendship first; it is from God that the initiative comes (cf. Summa Theologiae II-II, 23, 1).

Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life.

Rather than a pedagogy Teresa’s is a true “mystagogy” of prayer: she teaches those who read her works how to pray by praying with them. Indeed, she often interrupts her account or exposition with a prayerful outburst.

Another subject dear to the Saint is the centrality of Christ’s humanity. For Teresa, in fact, Christian life is the personal relationship with Jesus that culminates in union with him through grace, love and imitation. Hence the importance she attaches to meditation on the Passion and on the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church for the life of every believer, and as the heart of the Liturgy. St Teresa lives out unconditional love for the Church: she shows a lively “sensus Ecclesiae”, in the face of the episodes of division and conflict in the Church of her time.

She reformed the Carmelite Order with the intention of serving and defending the “Holy Roman Catholic Church”, and was willing to give her life for the Church (cf. Vida, 33,5).

A final essential aspect of Teresian doctrine which I would like to emphasize is perfection, as the aspiration of the whole of Christian life and as its ultimate goal. The Saint has a very clear idea of the “fullness” of Christ, relived by the Christian. At the end of the route through The Interior Castle, in the last “room”, Teresa describes this fullness, achieved in the indwelling of the Trinity, in union with Christ through the mystery of his humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, St Teresa of Jesus is a true teacher of Christian life for the faithful of every time. In our society, which all too often lacks spiritual values, St Teresa teaches us to be unflagging witnesses of God, of his presence and of his action. She teaches us truly to feel this thirst for God that exists in the depths of our hearts, this desire to see God, to seek God, to be in conversation with him and to be his friends.

This is the friendship we all need that we must seek anew, day after day. May the example of this Saint, profoundly contemplative and effectively active, spur us too every day to dedicate the right time to prayer, to this openness to God, to this journey, in order to seek God, to see him, to discover his friendship and so to find true life; indeed many of us should truly say: “I am not alive, I am not truly alive because I do not live the essence of my life”.

Therefore time devoted to prayer is not time wasted, it is time in which the path of life unfolds, the path unfolds to learning from God an ardent love for him, for his Church, and practical charity for our brothers and sisters. Many thanks.

 

Check out Teresa of Avila’s Discerning Hearts Page

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St. Teresa of Avila and the Power of Prayer – A Reflection with Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. John Esseff

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the life and teachings of St. Teresa of Avila.  He also reflects on the scriptures and the “Our Father”

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St. Teresa of Avila Quotes

God, deliver me from sullen saints. – Saint Teresa of Avila

Oh my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value. – Saint Teresa of Avila

There is no such thing as bad weather. All weather is good because it is God’s. – Saint Teresa of Avila

There is more value in a little study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world. – Saint Teresa of Avila

We need no wings to go in search of Him, but have only to look upon Him present within us. – Saint Teresa of Avila

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough. – Saint Teresa of Avila

Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end. – Saint Teresa of Avila

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. – Saint Teresa of Avila

You ought to make every effort to free yourselves even from venial sin, and to do what is most perfect. – Saint Teresa of Avila

If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that is we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example. What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favors, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For is at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort. – Saint Teresa of Avila

“I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“To have courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“To reach something good it is very useful to have gone astray, and thus acquire experience.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can – namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“We shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God; for, beholding His greatness, we realize our own littleness; His purity shows us our foulness; and by meditating upon His humility we find how very far we are from being humble.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“It is here, my daughters, that love is to be found – not hidden away in corners but in the midst of occasions of sin. And believe me, although we may more often fail and commit small lapses, our gain will be incomparably the greater.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“O my God, what must a soul be like when it is in this state! It longs to be all one tongue with which to praise the Lord. It utters a thousand pious follies, in a continuous endeavor to please Him who thus possesses it.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

“Our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds. “– Saint Teresa of Avila

“The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.”– Saint Teresa of Avila

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In the Footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila – Announcing our Discerning Hearts Pilgrimage w/ Fr. Giles Dimock OP & Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts

rp_Anthony-Lilles-292x300.jpg

Five hundred years ago, on March 28, a great mystic, founder, reformer, and doctor of the Church was born.  From March 27 to April 6, 2015 you are invited to join Kris McGregor of Discerning Hearts on a spiritual journey through Holy Week and Easter in the footsteps of Saint Teresa of Avila in Spain.  Fr. Giles Dimock O.P. will serve as Chaplain and Dr. Anthony Lilles will be our spiritual guide for this pilgrimage.

We will have more on this pilgrimage in the days ahead.  We begin with this conversation with Dr. Lilles.  For more information visit our page dedicated to pilgrimage at:  www.pilgrimage.discerninghearts.com 

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Click the picture to download the Brochure

 

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Talk 2 on “In the Footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila” – A Discerning Hearts Pilgrimage w/ Fr. Giles Dimock OP & Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts

Anthony-Lilles

In this conversation, we discuss what we can experience in ESCORIAL.  For more information visit our page dedicated to pilgrimage at:  www.pilgrimage.discerninghearts.com 

Five hundred years ago, on March 28, a great mystic, founder, reformer, and doctor of the Church was born.  From March 27 to April 6, 2015 you are invited to join Kris McGregor of Discerning Hearts on a spiritual journey through Holy Week and Easter in the footsteps of Saint Teresa of Avila in Spain.  Fr. Giles Dimock O.P. will serve as Chaplain and Dr. Anthony Lilles will be our spiritual guide for this pilgrimage.

 

In-the-footsteps-of-Teresa-
Click the picture to download the Brochure

 

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Talk 3 on “In the Footsteps of St. Teresa of Avila” – A Discerning Hearts Pilgrimage w/ Fr. Giles Dimock OP & Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts

Anthony-Lilles

In this conversation, we discuss the significance of St. Teresa of Avila, not only in the area of the interior life, but also who her effect and presence on the world stage.  We discuss how vital mental prayer is in the spiritual life and for interior renewal.  For more information visit our page dedicated to pilgrimage at:  www.pilgrimage.discerninghearts.com 

Five hundred years ago, on March 28, a great mystic, founder, reformer, and doctor of the Church was born.  From March 27 to April 6, 2015 you are invited to join Kris McGregor of Discerning Hearts on a spiritual journey through Holy Week and Easter in the footsteps of Saint Teresa of Avila in Spain.  Fr. Giles Dimock O.P. will serve as Chaplain and Dr. Anthony Lilles will be our spiritual guide for this pilgrimage.

 

In-the-footsteps-of-Teresa-
Click the picture to download the Brochure

 

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DC40 St. Teresa of Avila pt 1– The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom w/ Dr. Matthew Bunson


Dr. Matthew Bunson discusses the life, times and teachings of St. Teresa of AvilaMatthew-Bunson

  1. Born: March 28, 1515, Gotarrendura, Spain
    Died: October 4, 1582, Alba de Tormes, Spain
  2. Nationality: Spanish

For more on St. Teresa of Avila and her teachings visit her Discerning Hearts page

From Vatican.va,an excerpt from the teachings ofPope Benedict XVI

From the General Audience on St. Catherine of Siena

St Teresa, whose name was Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515. In her autobiography she mentions some details of her childhood: she was born into a large family, her “father and mother, who were devout and feared God”, into a large family. She had three sisters and nine brothers.

While she was still a child and not yet nine years old she had the opportunity to read the lives of several Martyrs which inspired in her such a longing for martyrdom that she briefly ran away from home in order to die a Martyr’s death and to go to Heaven (cf. Vida, [Life], 1, 4); “I want to see God”, the little girl told her parents.

A few years later Teresa was to speak of her childhood reading and to state that she had discovered in it the way of truth which she sums up in two fundamental principles.

On the one hand was the fact that “all things of this world will pass away” while on the other God alone is “for ever, ever, ever”, a topic that recurs in her best known poem: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices”. She was about 12 years old when her mother died and she implored the Virgin Most Holy to be her mother (cf. Vida, I, 7).

If in her adolescence the reading of profane books had led to the distractions of a worldly life, her experience as a pupil of the Augustinian nuns of Santa María de las Gracias de Avila and her reading of spiritual books, especially the classics of Franciscan spirituality, introduced her to recollection and prayer.

When she was 20 she entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, also interesa-de-avilaquadro-pintado-por-frei-joao-da-miseria Avila. In her religious life she took the name “Teresa of Jesus”. Three years later she fell seriously ill, so ill that she remained in a coma for four days, looking as if she were dead (cf. Vida, 5, 9).

In the fight against her own illnesses too the Saint saw the combat against weaknesses and the resistance to God’s call: “I wished to live”, she wrote, “but I saw clearly that I was not living, but rather wrestling with the shadow of death; there was no one to give me life, and I was not able to take it. He who could have given it to me had good reasons for not coming to my aid, seeing that he had brought me back to himself so many times, and I as often had left him” (Vida, 7, 8).

In 1543 she lost the closeness of her relatives; her father died and all her siblings, one after another, emigrated to America. In Lent 1554, when she was 39 years old, Teresa reached the climax of her struggle against her own weaknesses. The fortuitous discovery of the statue of “a Christ most grievously wounded”, left a deep mark on her life (cf. Vida, 9).

The Saint, who in that period felt deeply in tune with the St Augustine of the Confessions, thus describes the decisive day of her mystical experience: “and… a feeling of the presence of God would come over me unexpectedly, so that I could in no wise doubt either that he was within me, or that I was wholly absorbed in him” (Vida, 10, 1).

Parallel to her inner development, the Saint began in practice to realize her ideal of the reform of the Carmelite Order: in 1562 she founded the first reformed Carmel in Avila, with the support of the city’s Bishop, Don Alvaro de Mendoza, and shortly afterwards also received the approval of John Baptist Rossi, the Order’s Superior General.

In the years that followed, she continued her foundations of new Carmelite convents, 17 in all. Her meeting with St John of the Cross was fundamental. With him, in 1568, she set up the first convent of Discalced Carmelites in Duruelo, not far from Avila.

In 1580 she obtained from Rome the authorization for her reformed Carmels as a separate, autonomous Province. This was the starting point for the Discalced Carmelite Order.

Indeed, Teresa’s earthly life ended while she was in the middle of her founding activities. She died on the night of 15 October 1582 in Alba de Tormes, after setting up the Carmelite Convent in Burgos, while on her way back to Avila. Her last humble words were: “After all I die as a child of the Church”, and “O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another”.

Teresa spent her entire life for the whole Church although she spent it in Spain. She was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1614 and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622. The Servant of God Paul VI proclaimed her a “Doctor of the Church” in 1970.

Teresa of Jesus had no academic education but always set great store by the teachings of theologians, men of letters and spiritual teachers. As a writer, she always adhered to what she had lived personally through or had seen in the experience of others (cf. Prologue to The Way of Perfection), in other words basing herself on her own first-hand knowledge.

Teresa had the opportunity to build up relations of spiritual friendship with many Saints and with St John of the Cross in particular. At the same time she nourished herself by reading the Fathers of the Church, St Jerome, St Gregory the Great and St Augustine.

Among her most important works we should mention first of all her autobiography, El libro de la vida (the book of life), which she called Libro de las misericordias del Señor [book of the Lord’s mercies].

For more visit Vatican.va

Dr. Matthew Bunson, Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, is one of the United States’ leading authorities on the papacy and the Church.

His books include: The Encyclopedia of Catholic History; The Encyclopedia of Saints; Papal Wisdom; All Shall Be Well; Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire; and The Angelic Doctor: The Life and World of St. Thomas Aquinas; The Pope Encyclopedia; We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, the first Catholic biography of the Holy Father in the English language; the Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History; Pope Francis. His also the editor of OSV’s “The Catholic Answer” magazine.

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DC41 St. Teresa of Avila pt 2– The Doctors of the Church: The Charism of Wisdom w/ Dr. Matthew Bunson


Dr. Matthew Bunson discusses the life, times and teachings of St. Teresa of AvilaMatthew-Bunson

  1. Born: March 28, 1515, Gotarrendura, Spain
    Died: October 4, 1582, Alba de Tormes, Spain
  2. Nationality: Spanish

For more on St. Teresa of Avila and her teachings visit her Discerning Hearts page

From Vatican.va,an excerpt from the teachings ofPope Benedict XVI

From the General Audience on St. Teresa of Avila

It is far from easy to sum up in a few words Teresa’s profound and articulate spirituality. I would like to mention a few essential points. In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life and in particular, detachment from possessions, that is, evangelical poverty, and this concerns all of us; love for one another as an essential element of community and social life; humility as love for the truth; determination as a fruit of Christian daring; theological hope, which she describes as the thirst for living water. Then we should not forget the human virtues: affability, truthfulness, modesty, courtesy, cheerfulness, culture.peter_paul_rubens_138

Secondly, St Teresa proposes a profound harmony with the great biblical figures and eager listening to the word of God. She feels above all closely in tune with the Bride in the Song of Songs and with the Apostle Paul, as well as with Christ in the Passion and with Jesus in the Eucharist. The Saint then stresses how essential prayer is. Praying, she says, “means being on terms of friendship with God frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us” (Vida 8, 5). St Teresa’s idea coincides with Thomas Aquinas’ definition of theological charity as “amicitia quaedam hominis ad Deum”, a type of human friendship with God, who offered humanity his friendship first; it is from God that the initiative comes (cf. Summa Theologiae II-II, 23, 1).

Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life.

Rather than a pedagogy Teresa’s is a true “mystagogy” of prayer: she teaches those who read her works how to pray by praying with them. Indeed, she often interrupts her account or exposition with a prayerful outburst.

Another subject dear to the Saint is the centrality of Christ’s humanity. For Teresa, in fact, Christian life is the personal relationship with Jesus that culminates in union with him through grace, love and imitation. Hence the importance she attaches to meditation on the Passion and on the Eucharist as the presence of Christ in the Church for the life of every believer, and as the heart of the Liturgy. St Teresa lives out unconditional love for the Church: she shows a lively “sensus Ecclesiae”, in the face of the episodes of division and conflict in the Church of her time.

She reformed the Carmelite Order with the intention of serving and defending the “Holy Roman Catholic Church”, and was willing to give her life for the Church (cf. Vida, 33,5).

A final essential aspect of Teresian doctrine which I would like to emphasize is perfection, as the aspiration of the whole of Christian life and as its ultimate goal. The Saint has a very clear idea of the “fullness” of Christ, relived by the Christian. At the end of the route through The Interior Castle, in the last “room”, Teresa describes this fullness, achieved in the indwelling of the Trinity, in union with Christ through the mystery of his humanity.

For more visit Vatican.va

Dr. Matthew Bunson, Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, is one of the United States’ leading authorities on the papacy and the Church.

His books include: The Encyclopedia of Catholic History; The Encyclopedia of Saints; Papal Wisdom; All Shall Be Well; Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire; and The Angelic Doctor: The Life and World of St. Thomas Aquinas; The Pope Encyclopedia; We Have a Pope! Benedict XVI, the first Catholic biography of the Holy Father in the English language; the Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History; Pope Francis. His also the editor of OSV’s “The Catholic Answer” magazine.

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St. Teresa of Avila Novena – Mp3 audio and text

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