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Archive for November, 2013

St. Teresa was no stranger to the experience of illnesses. She suffered some severe physical torments especially at the beginning of her adult life. At one point her illness at this time had become so intense that she remained insensible for four days. Everyone was expecting her to die, so she received the last Sacraments. They had even dug a grave for her in the monastery grave yard! However, she did recover from this and writes that she gained many graces from this particularly: patience in dealing with the illness, bearing with all of it without complaining, and the will to confess what she had done wrong, even venial sins.

sicknessShe then began to live a distracted life even while still suffering a variety of different illnesses, some severe others not so. She had given up prayer. Her father believed that the reason she had not been praying was because of her sicknesses. However, she writes in her autobiography that, “I saw clearly that there is no excuse for giving up prayer.” She told her father that it was all she could do to keep up with the choir duties. But she says, “ this was not sufficient cause to set aside something for which bodily strength is not necessary but only love and a habit; and the Lord always provides the opportunity if we desire.”

 Sometimes there are occasions or sicknesses which will prevent us from being able to have free hours for the solitude necessary for prayer. Nevertheless, “there is no lack of other time when we have the health for this.” She expounds further that a soul that loves can offer the sickness up, accepting what is happening and conforming the will to God’s. This is an act of love. “Prayer is an exercise of love, and it would be incorrect to think that if there is no time for solitude there is no prayer at all.” So even our illnesses can become prayer and transformed into an act of love.

There is never a good excuse for giving up prayer.

(The Book of Her Life, St. Teresa of Avila, ch 7)

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From silly devotions and from sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!
~ St. Teresa of Jesus

Happy All (Carmelite) Saints Day!Carmelite-Saints-Ravenna-Icon-in-York

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I live without living in myself,

and in such a way I hope,

I die because I do not die.

Since I die of love,

Living apart from love,

I live now in the Lord,

Who has desired me for Himself.

He inscribed on my heart

When I gave it to Him:

I die because I do not die.

Within this divine prison,

Of love in which I live,

My God my captive is.

My heart is free

To behold my prisoner-God,

Passion welling in my heart,

I die because I do not die.

Ah, how weary this life!

These exiles so hard!

This jail and these shackles

By which the soul is fettered!

Longing only to go forth

Brings such terrible sorrow,

I die because I do not die.

Ah, how bitter a life

When the Lord is not enjoyed!

While love is sweet,

Long awaiting is not.

O God, take away this burden

Heavier than steel,

I die because I do not die.

Only with that surety

I will die do I live,

Because in dying

My hope in living is assured.

Death, bringing life,

Do not tarry; I await you,

I die because I do not die.

See how love is strong.

Life, do not trouble me.

See how all that remains

Is in losing you to gain.

Come now, sweet death,

Come, dying, swiftly.

I die because I do not die.

That life from above,

That is true life,

Until this life dies,

Life is not enjoyed.

Death, be not aloof;

In dying first, may life be,

I die because I do not die.

Life, what can I give

To my God living in me,

If not to lose you,

thus to merit Him?

In dying I want to reach

Him alone whom I seek:

I die because I do not die.

Poetry of St. Teresa of Jesus “Aspirations toward Eternal Life” trans. by Adrian J. Cooney, OCD (ICS Publications The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume 3)

 

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