St. Teresa of Avila and Her Glorious Carmelite Reform
“Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough.” – St. Teresa of Avila
Today, October 15th
, the church remembers one of the most profound spiritual teachers in Christian history, St. Teresa of Avila. What can we learn from this inspiring patron saint of those who are ridiculed for their piety? Teresa, born into nobility in a Spain that was at the height of its power, knew from her childhood that her path would be to follow God. She was raised in a devout household; her parents were models of piety and compassion. As a girl, Teresa was drawn to the prospect of religious life; she avidly read about the lives of saints and would play in the garden at being a nun. After the death of her mother, Teresa was sent to be educated by a group of Augustinian nuns in Avila, a time and experience that only strengthened her desire to answer the call to religious life. At the age of 20, Teresa left home to enter a Carmelite monastery; her father had initially rejected the idea of Teresa living the religious life but soon accepted Teresa's calling, and within two years she enthusiastically made her profession.
It would not be the last opposition the Carmelite nun would face, however. Much of her next 20 years were spent in discontent; she was plagued by illness as well a struggle to integrate her relationships with the world and with God. She described her struggles in this way:
“On the one hand, God was calling me. On the other, I was following the way of the world. Doing what God wanted made me happy; but I felt bound by the things of this world. The two seemed contrary to each other: spiritual joys, and sensory pleasures. And so, I was not able to concentrate on prayer, because my mind was filled up with a thousand vanities.”
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