St Teresa of Avila

Ephesians 1.15-23; Psalm 8; Luke 12.8-12

Teresa (1515-82) was a Spanish noblewoman who entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation at the age of 20. After a period of prolonged ill health she received a series of mystical visions of Jesus, prompting her to a life of imitation of the sufferings of Our Lord.

After a quarter century as a nun Teresa embarked on the reformation of what she saw as the laxity into which the order had descended. In 1562 she left the Incarnation to found a new convent, San José, which would follow the principles of absolute poverty and renunciation of property. Eventually she wrote the constitution of a new, Discalced (‘barefoot’) Carmelite order. After five years of seclusion, devoted to prayer and meditation, Teresa began travelling to establish convents of the new order throughout all the provinces of Spain. She was given permission to establish two houses for men who wanted to follow the reforms; one of those men, St John of the Cross, became her collaborator in the reform of the order.

St Teresa was canonised forty years after her death, and was declared Doctor of Prayer by
Pope Paul VI, one of the first two women to be declared to be Doctors (‘teachers’) of the Church. Her writings,
The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, continue to guide Christian prayer to this day.

Posted in Daily Reflection.