Ordinary Time: October 15th
Memorial of St. Teresa of Avila, virgin and doctor
Other Titles: Theresa of Avila; Teresa of Avila; Teresa de Avila; Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada
St. Teresa (1515-1582) was born in Avila and died in Alba, Spain. When only a child of seven, she ran away from home in the hope of being martyred by the Moors; in this way, she said she could come to see God. At the age of eighteen she joined the Carmelite Order and chose Christ as her heavenly Spouse. With the help of St. John of the Cross she reformed most of the Carmelite convents and founded new ones. She reached the highest degree of prayer and through prayer obtained such knowledge of divine things that in 1970 Pope Paul VI named her the first woman Doctor of the Church.
St. Teresa of Jesus
St. Teresa of Jesus, honored by the Church as the "seraphic virgin," virgo seraphica, and reformer of the Carmelite Order, ranks first among women for wisdom and learning. She is called doctrix mystica, doctor of mystical theology; in a report to Pope Paul V the Roman Rota declared: "Teresa has been given to the Church by God as a teacher of the spiritual life. The mysteries of the inner mystical life which the holy Fathers propounded unsystematically and without orderly sequence, she has presented with unparalleled clarity." Her writings are still the classic works on mysticism, and from her all later teachers have drawn, e.g., Francis de Sales, Alphonsus Liguori. Characteristic of her mysticism is the subjective-individualistic approach; there is little integration with the liturgy and social piety, and thus she reflects the spirit of the sixteenth and following centuries.
Let nothing affright thee,
Nothing dismay thee.
All is passing,
God ever remains.
Patience obtains all.
Whoever possesses God
Cannot lack anything
God alone suffices.
—Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.Patron: sickness; against headaches; against heart disease; lacemakers; loss of parents; opposition of Church authorities; those in need of grace; religious; those ridiculed for their piety; Spain; those named Teresa, Theresa, Teresita, Terry, Tessa, Teresina, and Tracy.Symbols: nun in habit of a Discalced Carmelite; Carmelite nun with her heart pierced by an arrow held by an angel; Carmelite nun holding a pierced heart, book and crucifix; Carmelite nun with book and quill; Carmelite nun receiving a message from a dove; roses and lilies; inflamed heart; IHS on a heart; flaming arrows; dove; book and pen; crown of thorns; heart transfixed with flaming arrows; scapulary; crucifix and lily.Things to Do:
- Read St. Teresa's bookmark. Perhaps as an art project write and decorate it, to keep it nearby as a reminder, or place in your own prayer book.
- Bake a special Spanish recipe, such as Paella, or Gazpacho or learn more about the variety of tapas. Also try your hand at some of the recipes bearing Teresa's own name, such as St. Teresa's Egg Yolks or Yemas or St. Teresa's Bread.
- Find out more about the Discalced Carmelites, and the hard sacrifices they follow in their Rule.
- Migraine and headache sufferers have a patron to invoke!
- St. Teresa did not die on October 15, but she had the unique privilege of dying around midnight of October 4, 1582. After so many centuries of following the Julian Calendar, it was realized that the days didn't add up quite right, and needed some adjusting for the anomalies. Pope Gregory VII Issued the papal bull Inter Gravissimas, which ordered 10 days to be removed from the calendar, October 5-14, 1582. Hence, St. Teresa's feast was marked on the "next" day from October 4, which that year was October 15. Find out more, and see why we have Gregory VII to thank for Leap Year.
- Read the Autobiography of St. Teresa. See how human her writing is. Her other books Interior Castle and Way of Perfection are more difficult and lofty to read, but are spiritual classics. The books may also be downloaded online: The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, Interior Castle and Way of Perfection.