“The Lord does not look so much at the magnitude of anything we do as at the love with which we do it.” –Saint Teresa of Ávila
Today is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, Teresa of Ávila, or as she is also affectionately known, Saint Teresa of Jesus. I am a huge groupie of this amazing woman who lived a long time ago (1515-1582), but who continues 500+ years later to impact people all around the world through her writings, life of dynamic faith, dedicated courage & passionate love of Jesus Christ.
She loved Jesus with her whole being, everything of hers was His. She put her trust (and her life) in His keeping during tense times of the Inquisition, whilst writing when she was under rigorous scrutiny (one investigator priest consulted a huge stack of deep theological books “to understand an hour with Teresa”), and as she pushed for reform of her contemplative order when challenges stacked up against her.
Reading Saint Teresa of Ávila’s books, “The Interior Castle” and “My Life” in my early 20s strengthened and deepened my faith in new ways. Teresa’s images of long ago are still relevant today as she likens our faith journey to a castle we enter level by level (dealing with internal clutter & tough debris along the way.) Her “Way of Perfection” is also excellent, and anything else of hers you can let your mind and heart read to contemplate. Her words have a way of jumping off the page, edging their way through difficult doors to sweep interior rooms of our hearts open for Christ and His love for us, and for all.
Saint Teresa’s strong sense of humor helped infuse joy in joyless times, like making a formal street procession with musical instruments after a lice infestation to mock the unwelcome critters out of her nun sisters’ hair!
Teresa of Ávila had a tough go of it as a woman in times when women did not have much recourse to realize their dreams and initiatives. Her father didn’t want her to be a nun, but she managed to become a nun anyway. She served as spiritual director for Saint John of the Cross – totally radical for that time. Today, Teresa of Ávila is a Doctor of the Church – the first woman so named, and one of only four (with St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Therese of Lisieux and Hildegard of Bingen.)
“Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”
Saint Teresa of Ávila
Virginia : )
p.s. For all of you whipping up meals and pulling kitchen duty, take to heart St. Teresa’s admonishment to her contemplative sisters who had to leave prayer stations for food prep:
“Know that if it is in the kitchen, the Lord walks among the pots and pans.”