Category Archives: Teresa of Avila

Who Do I Think I am Fooling?

"It is love alone that gives worth to all...

While the soul is in mortal sin nothing can profit it; none of its good works merit an eternal reward, since they do not proceed from God as their first principle, and by Him alone is our virtue real virtue. The soul separated from Him is no longer pleasing in His eyes, because by committing a mortal sin, instead of seeking to please God, it prefers to gratify the devil, the prince of darkness, and so comes to share his blackness. I knew a person to whom our Lord revealed the result of a mortal sin and who said she thought no one who realized its effects could ever commit it, but would suffer unimaginable torments to avoid it. This vision made her very desirous for all to grasp this truth therefore I beg you, my daughters, to pray fervently to God for sinners, who live in blindness and do deeds of darkness.

—-Teresa of Avila

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”

—-Matthew 7:21-23


 

For most of the world, good works and words equal oneness with God. The mystic Teresa of Avila and Jesus himself have something else to say. Jesus, while addressing the religious zealots of his day, points out that words and actions not grounded in the heart will leave us without peace. His message is clear. There are untold numbers of people who do things for their own self-aggrandizement and pretend that they are doing them for God. That was true then, and it’s true now. He met these people with a scathing” I never knew you” and sent them away. Teresa picked up on this theme in her writing that we use today.

She referred to the state that a soul finds itself in when mortal sin exists. I would venture to say that being absent from the grace of God is simply being present in our own grace. We are prideful creatures who love to relish in our own greatness. No matter how great our self-worth rises, there are still times when we feel threatened. In these threatening times, we are pushed to do something to prove our worth. The temptation of the garden was to have the knowledge of good and evil. When man attained this knowledge, a knowledge that was reserved for God, he was ejected from the peace of the Garden of Eden and banished into a life of struggle and toil. We are the heirs of that banishment and we must seek the path of grace. Let us consider a few facts.

· THE REALIZATION THAT WE CANNOT DO SAVE OURSELVES

Somehow, somewhere we all believe that we have the power to save ourselves. People are inbuilt with the inclination that we can do things our way, and our way is enough to please God or anybody else.

· OUR BEST EFFORTS FALL SHORT

If we can just do our best, that will be enough. We deny that we have a real sin nature and feel that steady improvement will get us to a true and solid relationship with God. The very idea that we have a serious problem with sin causes our sin nature to balk.

·THE GRACE OF GOD IS NOT FOR SALE

In our frantic path to do our best we somehow feel that we will eventually attain the price that God wants out of us. What will it take to please God short of admitting that we can’t do it on our own? That is the haunting question that cries out from our souls. The grace of God is a free gift set for distribution by the sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah on the cross.

· THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SELF-MADE MAN

Here in the United States, we love the story of the self-made person. The classic rags to riches stories are what makes the American dream. In our minds, we think of pleasing God by doing all the work ourselves. That “I can” attitude is deeply ingrained in us and the only way to be one with God is to say, “I can’t” and turn ourselves over to his mercy and grace.

Just as Teresa said to the Carmelites many years ago, “While the soul is in mortal sin nothing can profit it; none of its good works merit an eternal reward,” our efforts to come to God without first admitting our sin falls short. Let today be the day that we take a serious look at who we are and come to know that without grace we are not what God made us to be. Our relationship with our creator is not measured by what we do but by who we love and serve. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”


 

Prayer

Lord, help me to see myself as I really am. Free me from the burden of working frantically to attain a salvation that is your free gift to me and the whole world. Help me to control my ego and to turn to you. May I accept my sin and ask for your grace.

Amen

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Outer Turmoil/Inner Peace

Teresa of Ávila was born Teresa Ali Fatim Corella Sanchez de Capeda y Ahumada in Ávila, Spain. Less than twenty years before Teresa was born in Teresa31515, Columbus opened up the Western Hemisphere to European colonization. Two years after she was born, Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Out of all of this change came Teresa pointing the way from outer turmoil to inner peace.

As we suffer through mass murders, church shootings and threats of nuclear conflict we shout very loudly for inner peace. Teresa has some ideas about peace that I share with you today.


      • Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”
      • 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.
      • The closer one approaches God, the simpler one becomes.
        Reflect upon the providence and wisdom of God in all created things and praise Him for them all.
      • Truth suffers but never dies.
      • In this distress, — for then I had never had a single vision, — these Thy words alone were enough to remove it, and give meTeresa-Quote perfect peace: ‘Be not afraid, my daughter: it is I, and I will not abandon thee. Fear not.
      • To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.
      • The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit.
      • We need no wings to go in search of Him but have only to look upon Him present within us.
      • The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.
      • Pain is never permanent.
      • 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.

 

I hope that these words of Teresa can help bring peace to your life today.


Prayer

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing;
God only is changeless.
Patience gains all things.
Who has God wants nothing.
God alone suffices.

Teresa of Avila

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Light and Life

It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters,(Christians) if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or his mother was, or from what country he came? Though that is great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies, and have a vague idea, because we have heard it and because our Faith tells us so, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them, or how precious they are — those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty. All our interest is centered in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle — that is to say, in these bodies of ours.

— Teresa of Avila

Long ago the mystic Teresa of Avila told the sister of her convent a simple fact that so eludes us today. We are all self-centered. So much energy is expended in keeping our bodies in shape, building our self-images, removing negativity from our lives and tracing our ancestors that we give little thought to the soul that God created. Each of us is a living soul created in the image of God. Before you ask, I cannot define precisely what the image of God is. If I could, I would be God. I will say that God created us in His image so that we might be light and life to this world.

We bring light and life by recognizing the beauty that He has created. Self-love is a good place to begin. Without self-love it is impossible to love anyone else. The scripture says, He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as YOURSELF.” Self-loathing and self-hatred are poison. These two rob us of our very souls and allow the evil one to become master of our lives as he promises to fix things. We are tempted to blame others for our failures and lack of success. If our relationships seem to be going wrong then it just has to be someone else’s fault. Maybe it is God’s fault because He created us after all. Our challenge is to see the beautiful soul that He created, and the beauty of the other souls that surround us.

The attitude of beauty allows us to be overcomers. Power is allotted by our creator for us to face the challenges of the world and to help others do the same. The life of a soul who recognizes its worth beyond this body is invincible. That soul has the ability to accept forgiveness and to give forgiveness, the ability to understand that humility is not self-depreciation, and the courage to stand tall when all others are shrinking away. Such behavior can make us heroes, role models and leaders. We can become modern day “Pied Pipers” for the love of God. The world love the one who marches to the beat of a different drummer.

Let us move inward to the greater part that God put in us. Let us discover that when we are marching to the “God beat” of our lives we are so much more that what we can see. Relish the mystery that YOU are a living soul created by God. Stop trying to analyze things and just live life in the spirit which allows us to be the light and life of the world.


Prayer

Lord help me to put down the crutches of self-sufficiency and self-hatred. These are mere excuses that hold me back from discovering my true potential as a soul created by God. It is not easy to trust in something I cannot see or explain but it is key to becoming all that I can be.

Amen

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Peace Within

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 Avila


We sometimes lose sight of our own purpose and how we are meant to play a part in bringing peace to the world. So often it starts here: with internal peace–a peace with Our Lord and a deep sense of rest in the creation He has made us. Such a peace radiates out into our families and our communities. Cultivated in each of us, it could bring about great change in our world. And yet, suffering and death, pain and loss, will all continue to be part of our experience. Let us pray to be instruments of peace even in moments when it seems the battle is lost. Let us never submit to the lie that violence is victorious.

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A Word for Me

I have always been fond of the words of the Gospels and have found more recollection in them than in the most carefully planned books. If I keep close to this Master of wisdom, He may perhaps give me some thoughts which will help you. I do not say that I will explain these Divine prayers, for that I should not presume to do, and there are a great many explanations of them already. Even were there none, it would be ridiculous for me to attempt any.

…….Teresa of Avila

The words of the gospels have more recollection than the most carefully planned books. This observation of Teresa of Avila was made long ago and yet it resonates in our day. We have a plethora of books, websites, blogs and digital downloads that clamor for our attention and promise to make life grand and Teresa-1glorious. All that said, the words of the gospel can speak volumes to us today. In times of trouble, in times of need such words can be an anchor to the otherwise shifting sands of life. Teresa referred to the gospels as prayers. They are “God prayers” directed to us.

Just like Teresa I cannot begin to dissect or explain why these prayers/words are still so relevant. I can say that they are still real and reliable. The truth of the gospel is not subject to popularity or current event relevance. The Gospel stands head and shoulders above all else. There is not a subject vital to life that escapes discussion in the Word. God covered the bases for us.

The tragic mistake made by unnumbered generations is to try to improve on the perfection of God’s revealed Word. Gospel means “good news’ and the news of our redemptive and grace-filled God can never be changed or improved. By this assertion I do not mean to engage in the age old “inerrancy and infallibility “arguments that have squandered the real gift of the Gospel. The gospel is God’s living word to YOU; its speaks to YOU in the ways that YOU need. The voice of God can say different things to different people and all these revelations are true. The singular interpretation of scripture leads to broken relations, war and even murder – all these horrible things done in the name of God. I urge you to read the scripture and let it act as your personal guide to life. Let us allow the words of the gospel to guide us in the way we should go. Look at Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as your personal life coaches. The words that they write are like text messages received from a close friend. Treasure them and remember them by applying them to your life. The world has spent far too much time interpreting the Word rather than applying it to our individual lives.

Here are a few topics and quotes from the Gospel of Matthew –

Compassion and Forgiveness

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors […] For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:12-15)

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

Hypocrisy

Therefore when you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:2)

When you fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:16)

Sin

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, ALL MANNER OF SIN AND BLASPHEMY SHALL BE FORGIVEN UNTO MEN: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Matthew 12:30-31)

Those are but a few topics from the Gospel of Matthew that require no interpretation or explanation but only application.


Prayer

Lord help me this day to allow your Gospel to speak to me as thought it was written exclusively for me. I ask you to cast out all my thoughts of distance from you and invite an intimate closeness that you desire. That closeness will allow your words to speak in every situation in which I find myself. May I know that you are present and have the best in store for me. Lord give me the faith and patience to believe and endure.

Amen

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The Wonder of a Prayerful Soul

A soul which gives itself to prayer, either much or little, should on no account be kept within narrow bounds. Since God has given it such great dignity, permit it to wander at will through the rooms of the castle, from the lowest to the highest.

……Teresa of Avila (Interior Castles)

The writings of the mystic Teresa of Avila are centered on the desire of the soul to reach the heart of the celestial creator. In this short saying, we can gain an insight into her wisdom and thinking. Any Christian Soul journey must be centered in prayer, because prayer is communication with the Almighty. She points out some interesting aspects of our soulful prayer nature.

Prayer is not measured by its length or style. God hears all who come to Him in the simplicity of their approach. The core value is that are we giving our souls to this endeavor. We are living souls, and all souls are called to ongoing and constant communication with God. Whether our prayer is little or much it is dedicated to God and brings blessings.

By its very nature prayer is boundless. Our prayers are not limited by the confines of this world. Desolation fills our souls when we believe that our cause is impossible. God wants us to bring the impossible to Him so that he can show a way to the other side.

We are creations of high regard and should know that God is giving His best to us. Created souls are not limited or relegated to mere existence until we die and find the glory of the kingdom. The kingdom is in the here and now and we are living in the majestic court of the King.

Souls (you and me) who live in the court of the king have “wandering rights” which allow us to soak up the majesty of it all. As we live we see the wonder of nature, the majesty of the sunrise, the awesome nature of our own bodies and the compelling cerebral drive to understand the unknown we thus become fully alive and engaged with God and man. God allows His created souls (you and me) to wander in His majestic court and experience life to the fullest.

Give yourself a chance to wander in the wonder of it all.


Prayer

Lord I come to you today and I am awed by the reality that I am a special creation of your hands. My being is both known by you and treasured by you. Allow me the wisdom to let this wondrous soul that I am wander in your kingdom and search the world over for You.

May I see you in nature!

May I see you in my neighbor!

May I see you in me!

May I rest my soulful eye on the Divine.

Amen

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Potent Prayer

“The most potent and acceptable prayer is the prayer that leaves the best effects. I don’t mean it must immediately fill the soul with desire . . . The best effects [are] those that are followed up by actions—–when the soul not only desires the honor of God, but really strives for it. “

—-Teresa of Avila

prayer young man 1Prayer must be more than offering to God your requests for actions you wish Him to take on your behalf. Teresa says ” potent” prayer effects actions that are taken by you. Whether this is the reversal of a bad habit  or the beginning of a new form of ministry, the action is yours to take. God wants His people to be people of prayer and actions that make their prayers effective. He provides us with the ability to recognize the results.

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Teresa of Avila #1

Teresa of Avila

 

“If, then, you sometimes fall, do not lose heart, or cease striving to make progress, for even out of your fall God will bring good, just as a man selling an antidote will drink poison before he takes it in order to prove its power.”

~ Teresa of Avila ~

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Alone with Him


“Vocal prayer . . . must be accompanied by reflection. A prayer in which a person is not aware of Whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is

Teresa Avila Vision of the Dove Rubens

asking and of Whom, I don’t call prayer—–however much the lips may move.”

“Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

—–Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Avila was a Carmelite nun, a mystic, and promoter of mental prayer. She knew the importance of being still in the presence of God. Teresa sensed the church of her day was talking without listening. Perhaps we should take a good look at the prayer practices of our day. Are we listening to God. Do we pray to God or pray at Him? The concept in  Teresa’s words stress the importance of becoming intimate with God by giving Him your undivided attention. Attention that is not crowded out by our own words that interfere with His presence. Ultimately the goal of every Christian is to become a close friend of God. This is accomplished by quiet, intimate times that focus on Him and Him alone.

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