Theresa of Avila

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Exodus 33:12-23New International Version (NIV)

Moses and the Glory of the Lord

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

Matthew 22:15-22New International Version (NIV)

19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Wednesday of this week was the feast of St Theresa of Avila. Her story is the story of her friendship with God

A Carmelite nun and a mystic, who lived in the 16 th century in Spain.

You may have seen the famous Benini statue of her … the angel about to pierce her with the arrow of God’s love…she is in ecstasy, every inch of her.

She stands in the Moses tradition of one who has experienced union with God. That’s what mystic do, experience union with the divine.

She was a totally committed woman of faith, and a very practical woman

She was part of the Counter Reformation, and her work was to reform the religious houses of her time, which she did very successful. Calling them back to the simple worship and service of Jesus.

Listen to some of her wisdom:

Theresa: “Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”

“It is love alone that gives worth to all things.”

To God when one of her friends was suffering: “If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so many enemies.”

“You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.”

“God save us from gloomy saints!”

“Love turns work into rest.”

And one of her famous prayers:

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ’s compassion to the world Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”

“For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”

“It is foolish to think that we will enter heaven without entering into ourselves.”

She wrote a book on the subject of this inner journey, called The Interior Castle – our journey into God

“There is a secret place. A radiant sanctuary. As real as your own kitchen. More real than that. Constructed of the purest elements. Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things. Worlds within worlds. Forests, rivers. Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars. Bountiful forests, universal libraries. A wine cellar offering an intoxi cation so sweet you will never be sober again. A clarity so complete you will never again forget. This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway… Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for his dwelling place the core of your own being because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation.” ― Mirabai Starr, Interior Castle
Francis of Assisi, and Theresa were great mystical reformers of their time.

Mystics have found common ground with people of all faiths

Thomas Merton and Fr Bede Griffiths are perhaps two of the most influential mystics of our time:

Thomas Merton was one of the most influential Catholic authors of the 20th century. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, in the American state of Kentucky, Merton was an acclaimed Catholic spiritual writer, poet, author and social activist. Merton wrote over 60 books, scores of essays and reviews, and is the ongoing subject of many biographies. Merton was also a proponent of inter-religious dialogue, engaging in spiritual dialogues with the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh and D. T. Suzuki. His life and career were suddenly cut short at age 53, when he was electrocuted stepping out of his bath.

Fr Bede Griffiths, was a Benedictine monk from England who went to live in India for many years . He started an Ashram and wanted to express his Christianity within a Hindu culture – he would say that ritual and doctrines are important for us, but we must go beyond them to experience God, to experience the Reality.

These two many more than any other opened the way for people of different faiths to see that they shared a common experience of the mystery of God.

“I liked the solitude and the silence of the woods and the hills. I felt there the sense of a presence, something undefined and mysterious, which was reflected in the faces of the flowers and the movements of birds and animals, in the sunlight falling through the leaves and in the sound of running water, in the wind blowing on the hills and the wide expanse of earth and sky.”

“It is no longer a question of a Christian going about to convert others to the faith, but of each one being ready to listen to the other and so to grow together in mutual understanding.” ― Bede Griffiths

What has all this have to do with the Gospel? Image on the coin? Caesars!

but whose image do you carry?

God’s.

Our challenge is to see the image of God in yourself, but also in those around you.

Prayer of St Theresa

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.

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