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St. Teresa of Avila

Feast Day — October 15
1515-1582

St. Teresa is regarded as one of the greatest women of history and one of the most illustrious saints of the Church. Teresa loved to read of the saints and martyrs, and when only seven, she set out with a brother for the land of the Moors in the hope of being martyred, for, as she said, “I want to see God, and to see Him I must die first.”

At fourteen, she lost her mother, and for a time was given to reading romances of chivalry and to worldly chatter, things she later called her “great sins”.

At twenty, she expressed her wish to become a Carmelite nun at Avila, but her father at first refused to let her go. He relented, however, and Teresa in due time made her profession.

As a nun she was allowed and enjoyed worldly contacts, but she finally came to understand that she had to give herself wholly to God. She made a general confession, and from then on her life was one of prayer, illuminations, ecstasies, apparitions, but also of sufferings, both bodily and mental.

She was also favored with extraordinary manifestations, such as the mystical espousals and nuptials with Christ. She desired intensely to die so as to be united with her Divine Love, but she also desired to suffer, so much so that she uttered the famous words: “Lord, either to die or to suffer; I beg nothing else for myself.”
At the instigation of St. John of the Cross and with his help, she set about reforming the Carmelite Order, and despite persecutions, ridicule, slanders, and other difficulties she achieved a reform in Spain and Portugal and built many new convents. At Toledo she had only three ducats to start building. “Teresa and three ducats are nothing,” she said; “but God, Teresa, and three ducats are enough to succeed.”

She left a number of deeply spiritual and mystical books: an Autobiography, relating her visions and revelations; a Way of Perfection for the direction of her nuns; a book of Foundations for their encouragement; and the Interior Castle, a mystical theology of great penetration.

She died at Alva de Tonnez.

    The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila — Scrupulously accurate translation describes her life and the extraordinary workings of grace within her soul. Describes her own spiritual struggles, spiritual laxity, her vision of her potential place in Hell, the great assistance she received from St. Joseph, her many mystical graces — including visions. B0778

    The Interior Castle or the Mansions by St. Teresa of Avila — Practical advice regarding the early struggles and the temptations to turn back. Describes each of the seven “Mansions.” Aridity in prayer, sweetness in prayer, Prayer of Quiet, Prayer of Union, practice of virtue, Spiritual Espousals, preparation for Spiritual Marriage, the wound of love, locutions, intellectual and imaginary visions, raptures, the Humanity of Our Lord, God’s presence, the roles of “Martha and Mary,” and more. B0782

    The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila — Spiritual advice regarding relatives, confessors, health, the snares of satan, supernatural vs. natural love, etc. How to begin a life of prayer. Contemplation is mental and vocal prayer. “Our Father” phrase by phrase, showing its meaning. B0783