Meet Teresa of Ávila

     If all goes as planned in my world, today’s Listening on the Journey… blog will be posted while I’m on a plane in route to Madrid, Spain.

     The first portion of the educational pilgrimage I’m embarking on will be visiting sites where Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) and St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) had unique spiritual encounters—experiences which continue to minister to folks navigating our 21st Century faith journey.

     I became familiar with these amazing Christians several years ago when I read Devotional Classics[1], the source from which I obtained most of the biographical information shared in my next two posts.

     Both Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross lived during the Roman Inquisition, a period when reformation was occurring in the Church. The most well-known reformation activity was the Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther in Germany. Because of corruption that had crept into the Catholic Church, however, pockets of reformation also occurred within the organized church in other European regions around the same time as Luther’s revolt.

     Teresa, a sister in the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation in Ávila, Spain, was what some might call “one tough cookie.” She was a strong-willed leader and independent thinker who endured many physical, vocational and relational hardships. Instead of crumbling under adversity, however, Teresa delved more deeply into a devout life. At the age of 40, she experienced what she called a “second conversion.” Visions she experienced lead her to establish Carmelite houses devoted to contemplative life.

     On Trinity Sunday, 1577, Teresa had a profound vision of a crystal-like dwelling with many rooms—each room moving her closer to the center where the King of Glory dwelt. The Interior Castle is her recollection of that vision.

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Ávila, Spain (photo provided by Dr. Deborah Gill, our pilgrimage leader)

A prayer from Teresa of Ávila
“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.”
― Teresa of Ávila

Today, may you too experience “peace within…”

Dios te bendiga!

Sue Reeve

  1. Devotional Classics, Selected Readings edited by Richard J. Foster and James Bryan Smith, A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal

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