A Novena to St. Teresa of Avila Day 6

Day 6: THE REALITY OF 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

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