Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saint Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila - Doctor of the Church
1515-1582 A.D.

Feast day: October 15


Saint Teresa was born in Avila, Spain in 1515. She is extroverted, hyperactive and an imaginative child. Her parents were people of position in Avila. Don Alfonso Sanchez de Capeda has 3 children from his first marriage and 9 children (Teresa was the third) from his second wife Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada.  At the age of 7 Teresa left home with her brother Rodrigo with the intention of going to Moorish territory to be
martyred for Christ, but their uncle upon knowing it hindered them as they were leaving the city.

Teresa grew up to be a beautiful lady and enjoyed being with people. Her mother died when she was only fourteen and a visit from a girl cousin made her less lonely but this had a not so good effect on her as she became interested in mundane things.  Though Teresa was raised piously, her father noted some changes in his daughter's personality and seeing the need of prudent guidance, decided to place her in a convent of Augustinian nuns in Avila.

She recovered her piety after a year and a half in the convent but got sick and was brought home. After recovering, Teresa began to discern if she should enter the religious life and reading the Letters of St. Jerome led her to the decision to enter a convent.Teresa entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation at Avila on Nov. 2, 1535 and began wholeheartedly to give herself to prayer and penance. Teresa started to
learn and practice mental prayer and progressed towards the "prayer of quiet," or when the soul rest in divine contemplation.

She had mystical experiences, visions, raptures and enjoyed a vivid experience of God's presence within her.

However, some people thought her favors were the work of the devil and she had to endure the distrust given to her.

She reformed Carmel and founded the discalced Carmelites or shoeless Carmelites and went back to the basics of a contemplative order. She braved all obstacles to spread her reform movement and soon she had postulants desiring to join her reform convents. Soon her reform movement swept across Europe. But Teresa's great work of reform began with herself as she always try to follow what pleases the Lord.

She died in Alba on October 4, 1582 and was canonized in 1662. Teresa was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970 for her writing and teaching on prayer.