Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 41 • OCT 13 - 19, 2018

01 Cover Page

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:21 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 11, 2018, 5:54 PM ]

03 Index

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:21 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 10, 2018, 11:21 AM ]

04 Official

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:19 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 10, 2018, 11:19 AM ]

05 Engagements

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 10, 2018, 11:18 AM ]

07 Editorial - Celebrating the holiness of St Teresa of Avila

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:09 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 11, 2018, 5:55 PM ]

Recent popes have showered praise on St Teresa. In 1970, Blessed Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, and in 1982, St John Paul II travelled to Spain to commemorate the 400th anniversary of her death. In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI described her as "one of the peaks of Christian spirituality of all time" and "a true teacher of Christian life for the faithful of every time." Pope Francis called her "a sure guide and attractive model of total donation to God" in a message to Fr Saverio Cannistrà, the Discalced Carmelites' superior general, on March 28, her 500th birthday.

Entering religious life - Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in Avila, Spain, in 1515. Teresa's father had three children by his first marriage. After he was widowed, he remarried, and Teresa was the third of nine children of the new marriage. When Teresa was a child, she loved to read the lives of saints, and one day, she and her brother decided to run away in order to seek martyrdom among the Moors in Africa — only to be stopped by an uncle who took them home. When she was 13, her mother died, and at 16, her father sent her to an Augustinian convent school.

Desiring the safest way to avoid hell, she resolved to enter religious life when she was 18. After her father refused his consent, she and a brother ran away from home one night — he to seek admission to a Dominican friary, and she to enter a Carmelite convent. The Carmelites sent her father word that she was with them, and he finally gave his consent. The early years of Teresa's religious life were years of joy, interior struggle and serious illness. In the years that followed, she received many interior graces that led her to a deeper practice of prayer.

A new order - Four years later, St Teresa was granted a vision of the place she deserved in hell, and she began to desire a stricter observance of the Carmelite life, noting that in her convent, "the Rule also was kept, not in its original exactness, but according to the custom of the whole order, authorised by the bull of mitigation" of Pope Eugene IV (1432).

One day, as she received holy Communion, she sensed a command from the Lord to proceed with the founding of a new convent that followed the original Rule. She found much opposition to her plan among her convent's nearly 200 sisters. During her last decades, she also wrote books through which she has exercised a lasting influence on Catholic spirituality: the autobiographical Life (1565); The Way of Perfection (1566), written for novices; her classic Interior Castle (1577), et al. Teresa of Jesus died on October 4, 1582, and was canonised in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.

A sure guide - In celebration of the opening of the jubilee year honouring St Teresa on October 15, 2014, Pope Francis sent a message to the bishop of Avila, in which he said, "At the school of the saintly traveller, we learn how to be pilgrims." The first path, said Pope Francis, is the path of joy. Because she knew the Lord loved her, St Teresa was a woman with a "contagious and unconcealable joy." This joy, the Pope noted, "is not reached by an easy shortcut that bypasses sacrifice, suffering or the Cross, but is found by enduring labour and pain, looking to the crucifix and seeking the Risen One."

St Teresa described the second path, the path of prayer, as "being on terms of friendship with God." St Teresa's emphasis on the absolute necessity of prayer "is of perennial relevance," said Pope Francis. The saint's third path, the Pope continued, is "the way of fraternity," or brotherhood and sisterhood, "in the bosom of the Mother Church." In response to immense problems in the Church and society of her time, St Teresa saw the importance of creating small communities in which women could together journey toward Christ as sisters, in mutual charity, detachment and humility.

The final path is that of time, of recognising that the Lord meets us moment by moment, even "amidst the pots and pans," as St Teresa put it. In response to difficulties, she did not give in "to bitter complaining," the Pope observed, but accepted them "in faith as an opportunity to take a step forward on the journey." "Teresian realism," Pope Francis said in summary, thus "requires work instead of emotions, and love instead of dreams"; it is "the realism of humble love," rather than "anxious asceticism." Five centuries after her birth, we can ask this Carmelite reformer to help us travel the paths of joy, prayer, fraternity and time in our own pilgrimage to God.

J.J. Ziegler writes from North Carolina. Source: OSV

08 The Interior Castle... A treasure hunt in search of a priceless Pearl - Sr M Simone CCR

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 10, 2018, 11:08 AM ]

“For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.” - St Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Avila was born in Spain during the 16th century to a well-to-do family. Teresa was fascinated by stories of the Christian saints and martyrs from a young age, and explored these interests through mystical games she played with her brother, Roderigo. St Teresa of Avila was a Spanish mystic, Doctor of the Church, and a reformer of the Carmelite Order (the Discalced Carmelites). Her spiritual, mystical treatise - The Interior Castle - has won the hearts of innumerable people throughout the centuries. Most of her devotees are drawn to her depth of wisdom and understanding of the interior life, especially as it pertains to the process by which a soul journeys to complete union with God.

As you will see in her writings, Teresa of Ávila was quite astute psychologically. Her mystical masterpiece, The Interior Castle, written in only two months' time when she was sixty-two, describes the stages of spiritual growth with amazing insight. The origin of St Teresa's Interior Castle came after she received a vision from Christ, picturing "the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of a very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions." In the centre of the crystal castle is the Sun, or the King, who gives all the splendour and beauty to the rest of the castle. The closer we approach the centre, the greater the light. In Teresa's classic work, the soul's castle holds seven different dwelling places on the way to love's radiant centre, seven deeper stages of prayer which finally lead to the place where God and the soul meet in undivided intimacy. But castles are cavernous, and searching for treasure is often precarious. There are dark corners in castles, twists and turns, secret passageways and multiple rooms in which we lose our way. And that's for those of us who make it into the castle in the first place. Many of us, Teresa says, remain in the outer courtyard, on the surface or the exterior of life, and we're unable to access our inner lives, and thus unable to abide in God.


09 Prayer of St Teresa of Avila: “Give me water” - Fr Paul D’Souza OCD

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 10, 2018, 11:06 AM ]

Teresa is said to have had, in her home in Avila, a large wall-picture depicting Jesus waiting by the well of Jacob, and the Samaritan woman approaching with a pail to draw water. At the bottom of the picture was the inscription: Da mihiaquam. (Give me the water). Teresa made that prayer her own.

Apparently in answer to her prayer, she received the vocation to Carmel, an order especially dedicated to prayer. Even before Teresa joined the Carmelites, there had been in the Order those who had been attracted to Psalm 62 and written commentaries on it: "O God, You are my God, for You I long; for You, my soul is thirsting." They emphasised the contemplative nature of the Carmelite charism.

Soon after her religious profession, the Lord gave Teresa the taste of mystical prayer. Tears of joy welled up in her eyes in gratitude for her vocation. Not much later, she experienced the gifts of initial contemplation. Somehow, as she tells us in her autobiography, she became entangled in human attachments that became an obstacle to growth in divine friendship.

A close analysis of her psychology, as revealed especially in her own writings, may reveal the depth of her affectivity. While being introspective, she was also an extrovert, attracted by beautiful pictures, impressed by handsome forms, drawn towards elegant shapes and figures. It is not impossible that (had she not met Jesus) she might have gone the way of the Samaritan woman pictured on that wall. Her very temperament seems to have contained similar genes.

The Lord heard her prayer for water. So He drew her to a contemplative way of life, and granted her some taste of that water soon after her profession. In spite of that, Teresa became attached to certain persons whose companionship began to absorb her attention and affection.

"…I thus began to go from pastime to pastime, from vanity to vanity, from one occasion to another... I was then ashamed to return to the search of God in a friendship as special as is that of prayer." Ashamed to pray! Teresa felt ashamed to pray! Today, she is a doctor of the Church! Yes, there are people who feel ashamed to pray. Simon Peter, when he saw the miracle of the multiplication of the fish, threw himself at the feet of Jesus, exclaiming: "Depart from me, O Lord; I am a sinful man."

Teresa's father's spiritual director counselled her not to give up prayer. Rather, give up the attachments that make her ashamed to pray. The turning point came one day in Lent, when entering the oratory, her eyes fell on a representation of Jesus bound at the column. There and then, she fell prostrate, repenting with many tears, and did not rise again till her mind was made up to snap every attachment displeasing to God, Who had been waiting for her total surrender, in order to rain down His favours upon her.


10 ST TERESA OF AVILA – A Carmelite Mystic and Doctor of the Church - Sr M Geraldine CCR

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 10, 2018, 11:04 AM ]

St Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite reformer and mystic, whose prayer life enriched the Church during the 16th century Counter-Reformation, captivated other religious leaders by her exemplary life.

Teresa was born on March 28, 1515 in Avila, Spain. The zeal for God and salvation of souls were evident even in her early life, when she and her brother Rodrigo quietly left their home for the land of the Moors, to be beheaded and go to heaven directly as martyrs for the love of God. Her mother died when she was twelve, and her father placed her in a convent of Augustinian nuns. When she returned home, she felt an urge to enter religious life. She became a nun in a Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation, near Avila, Spain, and made her Profession in November 1534.

Teresa was a woman for God, a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Though for many years in the convent, she led a good religious life, certain faults still remained in her; but the moment of grace came at last, and the noble heart of Teresa began to soar upward to perfection. Besides being a woman of prayer, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave her life to reform herself and the Carmelites to lead them back to the full observance of the Primitive Rule. A striking trait of her character, of never looking back after putting her hand to the plough, was seen in her tireless efforts in reforming the Carmelite Order, and bringing it back on the track to the road of sanctification of its members, and restoring it to the proper observance of the life of prayer and solitude.

Teresa describes prayer in this way: "As I see it, mental prayer, in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time off frequently to be alone with Him who, we know, loves us." Burning with love for God and zeal for the salvation of souls, she offered herself to God as a victim of love. Like a plant that requires a proper atmospheric condition to grow well, a soul also needs conditions that help it to thrive in prayer life.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit and acting under the direction of enlightenment, among whom were St Peter of Alcantara, her Spiritual Director and St Francis Borgia helped her to discern the working of God's power. In the year 1561, Our Lord commanded her to reform the Carmelite Order.


11 The Canonization of Six Blesseds – to inspire and heal a battered Church! - Fr Joseph Royan, CSSR

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 10, 2018, 11:03 AM ]

The past few months have been a tumultuous time for the Catholic Church. The Church has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The recent sex scandal has rocked the Church, and she has been at the receiving end from different quarters, experiencing attacks not just on the perpetrators of the crime, but on the hierarchy, including the Holy Father as well. The outrage and anger by the faithful is often against the high-handedness and denial of the Church authorities and their failure to act against the perpetrators of such heinous crimes against children and vulnerable adults. There is enormous sadness about the immense harm that some men who should have been signs of the Love of God have been swords in the lives of innocent children. There are no words to justify such acts. There is no doubt that the Church must be on the side of the weak and most vulnerable. For that reason, all the measures that can be taken to prevent these acts and protect the dignity of the children should be an absolute priority. There needs to be greater transparency and accountability in the manner the Church deals with such cases of abuse and scandal. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, acknowledges the mistakes of the shepherds, and has spared no effort to work to combat the abuses and cover-ups. The Church has paid the price for its clericalism and elitism; it is time to move beyond, and to be more humble and to embrace servant leadership in its true sense.

These are difficult times for the Catholic Church, and especially for the many good Catholic priests who are holding the fort, and fighting the good fight in keeping the faith alive in a highly secular and materialistic world, and in reaching out to the most abandoned and the poor. Unfortunately, the stories of many such dedicated and committed priests neither make the headlines, nor are they sensational enough to garner many viewership or Television Rating Point (TRP) of different news channels. But isn't it strange that there is so little news and such lack of interest in the thousands of priests who are sacrificing their lives daily and dedicating themselves, body and soul, to millions of children, to adolescents and to the most disadvantaged of these in all four corners of the world? It's not news to follow a "normal" priest doing his daily work; experiencing his troubles and his joys, spending his whole life with no attention in the community he serves. The truth is, such priests are not trying to make news, only simply, to bring the "Good News"; this News which, with no fanfare, began on 'Easter Sunday Morning'.


12 Ten Lessons from St Teresa of Avila - Fr Ed Broom, OMV

posted Oct 10, 2018, 11:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 10, 2018, 11:02 AM ]

There are two weeks apart every year in the Church Liturgical Calendar that separate two marvellous, inspiring and most lovable saints, who truly love us and want us to love them: St Thérèse of Lisieux and St Teresa of Avila.

Saint Therese Lisieux we celebrate October 1; Saint Teresa of Avila we celebrate October 15. What do they have in common? Both are women; both are in the class of the few women Doctors of the Church; both were great contemplatives; both were Carmelite nuns, but most important; both were, and are, and will be, for all eternity, great lovers of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

In this short essay, we would like to pay tribute to Saint Teresa of Avila, and highlight ten of her great contributions to the Catholic Church and to us as a model of holiness, that we are all called to attain. Remember the words of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the context of the Sermon of the Mount: "Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy."(Mt. 5:48) Being holy, arriving at sanctity of life is not conditional, wishful thinking nor something that only a select group is called to, but all. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta challenges us with these stirring words: "Holiness is not the privilege of the few, but the duty of all." Now let us lift our gaze to Saint Teresa of Avila who will point us to Jesus, our Lord, God, Saviour and Faithful Friend.

1. Prayer. One of the key hallmarks of the spiritual heights of Saint Teresa of Avila is the importance of prayer. Even though she struggled for many years, she teaches us this basic but indispensable spiritual truth—Perseverance in prayer! Meditate upon her immortal words of wisdom and memorise: "We must have a determined determination to never give up prayer." Jesus taught us this supremely important truth in the Parable of the insistent widow and the judge. This widow, due to her dogged and tenacious insistence finally gained the assistance of this cold-hearted judge (Lk 18:1-8). St Teresa insists that we must never give up in prayer. If you like an analogy: what air is to the lungs, so is prayer to the soul. Healthy lungs need constant and pure air; a healthy soul must be constantly breathing through prayer—the oxygen of the soul!


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