Tag Archives: Teresa of Ávila

Meet St. John of the Cross…

In March 2018, I was privileged to participate in an educational pilgrimage to Spain and would like to share once again some of those memorable experiences.

     The first portion of the pilgrimage was spent exploring 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 their own 21st Century faith journeys.

     In my last post, I introduced you to Teresa. Today, I’d like you to meet a man who was mentored by and worked with Teresa, a man who came to be known as “John of the Cross” because of his suffering and deep commitment to Jesus.

     I became familiar with both Teresa and John several years ago when I read Devotional Classics[1], the source from which I obtained most of this biographical information.

     John studied philosophy and theology at one of the leading European universities, a Carmelite college in Salamanca, Spain. He met Teresa of Ávila when he was ordained in 1567.

     John spent most of his life in the service of the Catholic Reform. He was arrested and put in confinement by those who opposed the reform. During his period of confinement, he wrote The Dark Night of the Soul, which described God’s work in his spirit during a dark and difficult season.

     When I was first introduced to John of the Cross, I was traveling through a “dark night.” It was a difficult time and one I would not welcome back. Yet, through this season, I had a keen awareness God was with me and that a divine work was occurring in my soul—a place I could not see but one known by God. It was during this time that verses 11 & 12 from my favorite psalm—Psalm 139—took on new meaning:

If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me,
and the light will turn to night all around me,”
even the darkness is not too dark for you to see,
and the night is as bright as day;
darkness and light are the same to you.

     If you are experiencing a “dark night of your soul,” my prayer is that you’ll be encouraged by the words in this psalm and the life of St. John of the Cross. Even as God was very present with John—as well as with me over 430 years later—I feel certain God is also with you and will use this difficult time for a significant purpose.

Dios te bendiga!

h2 style=”text-align: left; font-family: Brush Script MT,cursive;”>Sue Reeve

 

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

 

Meet Teresa of Ávila…

In March 2018, I was privileged to participate in an educational pilgrimage to Spain and would like to share once again some of those memorable experiences.

In the first portion of the pilgrimage, we visited sites where Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) had unique spiritual encounters—experiences which continue to minister to us who are navigating a 21st Century faith journey.

I believe my favorite time in Spain was the day we spent in Ávila where we focused our attention on the 16th Century saint, Teresa of Ávila, also known as Teresa de Jesus.

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, Teresa experienced what she called a “second conversion.” Visions she experienced lead her to establish Carmelite houses devoted to contemplative life. Those cloistered orders remain to this day, and it was amazing to visit some of their convents.

When Teresa was a child, girls were not taught to read nor write. Teresa’s parents chose to go against that cultural norm. Their daughter was well educated and well-read. Years later, when Teresa founded a convent, she too was willing to buck the system and insisted all nuns would be taught to read and write.

― Teresa of Ávila

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.”

Today, may you too experience “peace within…”

Dios te bendiga!

Sue Reeve

 

Listening Prayerfully—Which Road Will I Choose?

Today’s post is the third in a series about a journey of listening prayerfully (See April 9 & April 16 archives). These posts include contents of a devotional talk I made to my travel group during our amazing educational pilgrimage as well as additional insights learned during the time I was in Spain.

Continuing from last time…

     As I’ve journeyed into the adventure of prayer, learning to listen for and discern the voice of God, I’ve discovered not only will there be obstacles along the way, but there will be times when I come to a juncture in my journey, and I must decide which road I’ll take. I call these roads,

     The road of “Yes, BUT…” or

     The road of “Yes, WHAT…”

     One of my favorite poems is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. In the last stanza, Frost reminds readers the road he chose “made all the difference.”

     In my experience of counseling–for several years in the arena of a government workplace, and for the past four years working in the local church as a pastoral counselor—I’ve encountered many folks who insist on taking the road of “Yes, but…”

     Way too often, I have chosen the same road. I won’t ask you if you have, but I imagine most would answer in the affirmative.

     The Bible is filled with many examples of good, God-loving people, who chose both roads. Because we’re familiar with the stories, we realize Scripture confirms the truth of Robert Frost’s implication that roads they chose made a difference.

     Noah chose the road of “Yes, WHAT…” I like the way the New English Version describes Noah’s response when God directed him to build an ark.

     “And Noah did all that God commanded him—he did indeed. [emphasis mine] Genesis 6:22

     Moses, on the other hand, chose the road of “Yes, But…” When God spoke to him, God assured Moses of His sufficiency to help Moses lead the Israelites out of bondage. Exodus 4:11-13 (NIV) describes their conversation when Moses argued he wasn’t capable of public speaking.

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? … Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

     I love the story of Hannah and Samuel, both amazing saints who took the road of “Yes, what…”

1 Samuel 1:24 says, After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was,…and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. [emphasis mine]

     I wonder what would have happened if Hannah had instead said, “Yes, Lord, I know I promised, BUT he’s SO little, and I love him SO much.”

     A few pages later, there’s the wonderful story of her precious little son in 1 Samuel 3. When the Lord called to Samuel, the child answered,

      “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

     What if Samuel’s response had been, “Yes, BUT… I’m too young.”

     My favorite time in Spain was the day we spent in Ávila where we focused our attention on the remarkable 16th Century saint, Teresa of Ávila. Writing in my journal the next day, I said,

I will always remember Ávila. All day long yesterday, I was filled with a delightfully full heart as I learned about the strong, spunky, godly woman, Teresa. I consider very few people ‘heroes’ or ‘heroines,’ but from yesterday onward, that’s how I’ll view Teresa.

     My next post will be dedicated to Teresa of Ávila. She was a woman who chose the road of “Yes, WHAT…” over and over. I look forward to telling you a little about this admirable woman.

What about you?

  • Can you think of a time when you came to a juncture in your journey of faith?
  • Did you choose the road of “Yes, BUT…” or the road of “Yes, WHAT…?
  • What did you learn because of the choice you made?

I would love to receive your feedback!

Until next time…

Sue Reeve

The roads we choose to take make all the difference. I can only imagine the stories this typical neighborhood road I walked upon in Spain could tell!!