Struggles with Sin and Patience – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles
Join Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor as they dive into the life of St. Teresa of Avila, using her autobiography, “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus of The Order of Our Lady of Carmel”. In this episode, Dr. Lilles goes over how as a young adult, Teresa was already experiencing advanced favors in prayer and was practicing recollection. However, she was also struggling with sin and backsliding, which hindered her spiritual growth. She was inspired by a fellow sister who showed great patience in suffering, and asked God for the grace to have the same patience. Teresa’s journey was also marked by struggles with confessors who gave her bad counsel, downplaying the seriousness of her sins.
They also discuss the concept of fear of the Lord, explaining that it is not about fearing God as an angry tyrant, but understanding that sin is repugnant to God because it harms us and prevents us from fulfilling our purpose.
“I forgot to say how, in the year of my novitiate, I suffered much uneasiness about things in themselves of no importance; but I was found fault with very often when I was blameless. I bore it painfully and with imperfection; however, I went through it all, because of the joy I had in being a nun. When they saw me seeking to be alone, and even weeping over my sins at times, they thought I was discontented, and said so.
All religious observances had an attraction for me, but I could not endure any which seemed to make me contemptible. I delighted in being thought well of by others, and was very exact in everything I had to do. All this I thought was a virtue, though it will not serve as any excuse for me, because I knew what it was to procure my own satisfaction in everything, and so ignorance does not blot out the blame. There may be some excuse in the fact that the monastery was not founded in great perfection. I, wicked as I was, followed after that which I saw was wrong, and neglected that which was good.
There was then in the house a nun labouring under a most grievous and painful disorder, for there were open ulcers in her body, caused by certain obstructions, through which her food was rejected. Of this sickness she soon died. All the sisters, I saw, were afraid of her malady. I envied her patience very much; I prayed to God that He would give me a like patience; and then, whatever sickness it might be His pleasure to send, I do not think I was afraid of any, for I was resolved on gaining eternal good, and determined to gain it by any and by every means.”
Excerpt from Chapter 5 from “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus of The Order of Our Lady of Carmel”
Listen Here to the Discerning Hearts audio recording of “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila
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Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefited from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.