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.