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Homilies Ordinary Time

Saint Teresa of Avila (Saint Teresa of Jesus), Virgin, Mystic, Doctor of the Church

Today’s readings: Romans 8:22-27 | Psalm 19:8-11 | John 15:1-8

Today we have the joyful memorial of Saint Teresa of Avila, also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus (but not to be confused with Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, also known as Saint Therese of Liseaux, whose memorial was earlier this month!).  Saint Teresa was a virgin, mystic, nun, reformer of the Carmelite order, and, with Saint John of the  Cross, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites. When she was a girl, her father sent her for a time to live in an Augustinian convent, until she became ill about a year or so later.  During her illness, she began to contemplate the prospect of living a religious life, and eventually decided to join a convent of Carmelite nuns, which her father strongly opposed.  After she turned twenty-one, she did join, and her father gave up opposition to it.  She was known to be a woman of prudence, charity and personal charm, and so many people came to be devoted to her charism.

Teresa struggled, though, with personal prayer until her early forties.  Persevering in prayer, she found that she more and more enjoyed being in the presence of the Lord, and really began to grow in friendship with him.  This is the message of today’s Gospel: “Remain in me,” Jesus says to us.  The way that we do that is by persevering in prayer, whether it is difficult or easy.  The saints all tell us that staying with prayer, even in the hard times, is the key to a fulfilling spiritual life.  Sometimes it may feel dry or unfruitful, but the Spirit continues to work in us as we continue to pray.  It’s okay if we struggle with prayer, as long as we keep up the struggle.  When we give up and forget about prayer, that’s when things go wrong.  Saint Teresa’s struggle with prayer led her to a deep, mystical friendship with God.

Saint Paul tells the Romans the same thing today: “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”  So today we trust that, just like for Saint Teresa, the prayer of our hearts would find expression in whatever way God wants for us, and that we might always remain in Christ.  And for those struggling in their prayer lives, may Saint Teresa intercede for us and lead us to deep relationship with our Lord.

Categories
Homilies Saints

Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa was a virgin, mystic, nun, reformer of the Carmelite order, and, with Saint John of the Cross, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites. When she was a girl, her father sent her for a time to live in an Augustinian convent, until she became ill about a year or so later. During her illness, she began to contemplate the prospect of living a religious life, and eventually decided to join a convent of Carmelite nuns, which her father strongly opposed. After she turned twenty-one, she did join, and her father gave up opposition to it. She was known to be a woman of prudence, charity and personal charm, and so many people came to be devoted to her charism.

Teresa struggled, though, with personal prayer until her early forties. Persevering in prayer, she found that she more and more enjoyed being in the presence of the Lord, and really began to grow in friendship with him. This is the message of today’s Gospel: “Remain in me,” Jesus says to us. The way that we do that is by persevering in prayer, whether it is difficult or easy. The saints all tell us that staying with prayer, even in the hard times, is the key to a fulfilling spiritual life. Sometimes it may feel dry or unfruitful, but the Spirit continues to work in us as we continue to pray.

Saint Paul tells the Romans the same thing today: “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” So today we trust that, just like for Saint Teresa, the prayer of our hearts would find expression in whatever way God wants for us, and that we might always remain in Christ.

Categories
Homilies Saints

Saint Teresa of Avila, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Today’s readings: Romans 8:22-27; Psalm 19:8-11; John 15:1-8

Saint Teresa was a virgin, mystic, nun, reformer of the Carmelite order, and, with Saint John of the  Cross, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites. When she was a girl, her father sent her for a time to live in an Augustinian convent, until she became ill about a year or so later.  During her illness, she began to contemplate the prospect of living a religious life, and eventually decided to join a convent of Carmelite nuns, which her father strongly opposed.  After she turned twenty-one, she did join, and her father gave up opposition to it.  She was known to be a woman of prudence, charity and personal charm, and so many people came to be devoted to her charism.

Teresa struggled, though, with personal prayer until her early forties.  Persevering in prayer, she found that she more and more enjoyed being in the presence of the Lord, and really began to grow in friendship with him.  This is the message of today’s Gospel: “Remain in me,” Jesus says to us.  The way that we do that is by persevering in prayer, whether it is difficult or easy.  The saints all tell us that staying with prayer, even in the hard times, is the key to a fulfilling spiritual life.  Sometimes it may feel dry or unfruitful, but the Spirit continues to work in us as we continue to pray.

Saint Paul tells the Romans the same thing today: “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”  So today we trust that, just like for Saint Teresa, the prayer of our hearts would find expression in whatever way God wants for us, and that we might always remain in Christ.

Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time

The Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

The story goes that one day, Saint Teresa of Avila was wheeling a cart across a bridge over the river. At one point along the bridge’s passage, a wheel of the cart got stuck in the planks, and Teresa had to wrestle the cart to get going again. In the struggle, the cart tipped over, and its entire contents spilled out and into the river. As she looked at all her stuff floating down the river, she said, “Well, God, if this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few of them!”

I am guessing that we have all had at least one time in our lives when we have felt like Saint Teresa in that moment.  I confess that I have had a week like that: my mother was without power in her house from Sunday to late Thursday, my aunt has had to go to a nursing facility at least for a month, I have a friend of the family who is at the end of his life, we have had a number of funerals over the last couple of weeks, and the heat has certainly taken its toll on staff relations.  So I can just imagine how Saint Teresa felt with all her stuff floating down the river.

Not that I’m Saint Teresa, mind you; I can only aspire to her level of holiness and her friendship with God that made such a conversation possible.  But I know how an accumulation of nastiness can drain one’s reserve of faith.  And it’s a great danger.  Last week’s Gospel showed how the faith of two people led to great healing: Jairus’s daughter was resuscitated from the dead, and the woman with a hemorrhage was cured after twelve long years.  But today’s Gospel shows us how a lack of faith prevented Jesus from doing much in the way of healing at all.

And so today, maybe we can take away two role models for having faith when it seems hard to do.  Saint Paul struggled with a “thorn in the flesh” – whatever it was for him – and remained faithful.  Saint Teresa grappled with the frustrations of daily living and remained a very holy woman.  May they be our intercessors when our reserve of faith is waning and the heat of the day is overwhelming.  And as the Psalmist models for us: may we be those who keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

Categories
Homilies Saints

St. Teresa of Avila, virgin and doctor of the Church

Today’s readings

Saint Teresa was a virgin, mystic, nun, reformer of the Carmelite order, and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites. When she was a girl, her father sent her for a time to live in an Augustinian convent, until she became ill about a year or so later.  During her illness, she began to contemplate the prospect of living a religious life, and eventually decided to join a convent of Carmelite nuns, which her father strongly opposed.  After she turned twenty-one, she did join, and her father gave up opposition to it.  She was known to be a woman of prudence, charity and personal charm, and so many people came to be devoted to her charism.  She struggled, though, with personal prayer until her early forties.  Persevering in prayer, she found that she more and more enjoyed being in the presence of the Lord, and really began to grow in friendship with him.

“You are worth more than many sparrows,” Jesus tells us in today’s gospel.  This Teresa truly took to heart, resulting in a friendship with God that was her strength and a glorious inspiration for others.  And so today, we might examine our own prayer life, our own relationship with our God.  And we pray that that friendship would be as wonderful as Teresa’s was.

Categories
Homilies Saints

Saint Teresa of Avila, virgin and Doctor of the Church

Today’s readings: Romans 8:22-27; Psalm 19:8-11; John 15:1-8

Saint Teresa was a virgin, mystic, nun, reformer of the Carmelite order, foundress of the Discalced Carmelites; over all a woman deeply devoted to her God – mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  She was of a large family, toward the end of the group of twelve children.  When she grew into a teenager she began to read and attempt to write romance novels, which, she says, led her into all sorts of other things teenage girls like to explore.  She writes, “I began to imitate the fashions, to take delight in being well dressed, to have great care of my hands, to make use of perfumes, and to afford all the vain trimmings which my position in the world allowed.”  Her father sent her for a time to live in an Augustinian convent, until she became ill about a year or so later.  During her illness, she began to contemplate the prospect of living a religious life, which was both emotionally a positive and negative proposition to her.

She decided to join a convent of Carmelite nuns, which her father strongly opposed.  After she turned twenty-one, she did join, and her father gave up opposition to it.  She was known to be a woman of prudence, charity and personal charm, and so many people came to be devoted to her charism.  She struggled, though, with personal prayer until her early forties.  Persevering in prayer, she found that she more and more enjoyed being in the presence of the Lord, and really began to grow in friendship with him.

A story is told of her that one day, as she walked along a muddy stream pushing a cart, it tipped over and she and the cart ended up in the stream.  Muddy, drenched and frustrated, she said, “God, if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them!”  This might seem for almost anyone else kind of blasphemous, but for Teresa at this point in her life, it was an expression of conversation with a friend, which is what her prayer life had become.

She truly became that branch that remained part of the vine, bearing fruit in prayer and contemplation, as well as spiritual writing.  She was canonized in 1622, and in 1970, became one of the three female Doctors of the Church we now celebrate.

“By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”  This was what Teresa took to heart, resulting in a friendship with God that was her strength and a glorious inspiration for others.  May our friendship with God become as wonderful.