“You’re out of control! I’m sending you to the convent.”
Are those words that you would want to hear? A teenager named Teresa sure didn’t appreciate when her father told her that. As a little girl, born in Avila, Spain in the 1500s, Teresa tried to run off and be a martyr, but by the time she became a teen, all of that enthusiasm for the faith was gone.
Teresa loved attention – especially from boys. She had a passion for fancy clothes and jewelry and was known for being an excellent dancer. One of her favorite pastimes was reading romance novels, and she constantly had a new one. Even when her father sent her away, surprisingly the convent wasn’t a whole lot different. There was always a flow of guests coming to see the sisters and prayer was not given a high priority.
God moved in Teresa’s life and she decided that she wasn’t content living this way. Teresa chose to stay at the Carmelite convent and make her vows. She disciplined herself to spend time in quiet prayer developing a relationship with the lover of her soul. As she grew stronger in her faith, it became clear to her that God wanted to her to oversee “Extreme Makeover: Carmelite Edition.” A life of poverty and prayer is what the order was intended to be and she simply wanted to restore it to that.
Suddenly, Teresa was the least popular person for miles and miles around; but she kept doing what she knew was right. (And I can’t stand it when one person is mad at me!) She succeeded in reforming the Carmelite Order, even though a war of insults and hatred was around her.
St. Teresa of Avila was a mystic as well. That means she was blessed with visions of Jesus and experienced things like her heart being pierced for love of God – a phenomenon called “Transverbation.” She is also a Doctor of the Church because of her profound writings on prayer, meditation, and contemplation.
Saint Teresa wouldn’t allow herself to be content with where she was in her spiritual life. She was full of life and enthusiasm, and while this drew people to her she had to come to the understanding that God had to be first and foremost in her life. When she put Him where He belonged – first in her heart – He used her to do amazing things. The Carmelite Order today is still benefitting from what this saint did. You see, when God is first it doesn’t matter so much what other people think – because you know you’re doing what He wants.
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours; yours are the only hands with which He can do His work. Yours are the only feet with which He can go about the world; yours are the only eyes through which His compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world. Christ has no body on earth but yours.”
Don’t be content with being consumed by material things, which in the end pass away. Do something for God today. Show someone His love.
St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us so that like you, we can see what is holding us back from becoming the saint God made us to be.