Monday, October 15, 2007

St. Teresa of Jesus
After Roman Breviary Lessons

The virgin Teresa was the daughter of a father and mother, equally honourable on account of their birth and of their godliness, and was born at Avila in Spain. She was brought up from the dawn of her life in the fear of God, and when still only seven years old she gave startling forecast of the holy earnestness of her later years. The reading of the acts of the holy martyrs so inflamed and excited her imagination, that she ran away from her father's house, with the design of going to Morocco and the hope there to lay down her life for the glory of Christ Jesus and the salvation of souls. She was met by an uncle and brought back to her mother, and was fain to slake her thirst for martyrdom by giving to the poor all the alms she could, and by other godly exercises, though still ever bewailing with tears that the highest prize had been snatched from her. Upon the death of her mother she besought the blessed Virgin to be a mother to her in her stead. This she gained ; thenceforth she lived always as a daughter under the shelter of the Mother of God. In the twentieth year of her age she withdrew herself among the nuns of St. Mary of Mount Carmel. There she dwelt for two-and-twenty years, tormented by grievous sicknesses and divers temptations, and so bravely served her time in the hardest ranks of Christ's army, starved even of that comforting knowledge of God's reconciled love, wherein his holy children are so commonly used even upon earth to rejoice.Strengthened in the graces of an angel, the wideness of her love embraced in its tender care the salvation of other souls as well as her own. To this end, under the blessing of God, and the approbation of Pius IV, she set, first before women and then before men, the observance of the stern Rule of the Old Carmelites. The blessing of the Almighty and merciful Lord did indeed rest most evidently upon this design. This penniless virgin, helped by no man, and in the teeth of many that were great in this world, was enabled to build two-and-thirty houses. The darkness of unbelievers and misbelievers drew from her unceasing tears, and she willingly gave up her own body to God to be tortured, to soften the fury of his indignation against them. His own love so blazed in her heart that she attained to see an Angel run her through with a fiery spear, and Christ himself take her by the hand, and to hear him say : Henceforth thou shalt love mine honour as a wife indeed. At his inspiration she took the extremely difficult vow to do always that which should seem to her to be most perfect. She wrote much, full of heavenly wisdom, whereby the minds of the faithful are enkindled to long for the Fatherland above.Earnest as were the ensamples of graces which she had shewn, and grievous as was the state of her body, afflicted by disease, she still burnt with the desire of tormenting it. She tortured it with sackcloth, chains of spikes, handfuls of nettles, and heavy scourging. She rolled herself sometimes among thorns, and was used to cry to God : Lord! to suffer, or to die! As long as she remained exiled from the heavenly Fountain of eternal life, her life was to her a lingering death. She was eminent for the gift of prophecy, and God did indeed so pour forth his bounties upon her, that she often cried to him in entreaty not to bless her so as to make her forget her sins. It was worn out rather by the fever of her love than by the wasting of disease that she sank upon her deathbed at Alva. She foretold the day of her own death, received the Sacraments of the Church, and exhorted her disciples to peace, love, and strictness in observing the Rule, and then her soul, like a pure dove, winged its flight to rest with God, on the 15th day of October in the year 1582, New Style, being then 67 years of age. At her death she had a vision of Christ Jesus surrounded by Angels. A dead tree hard by the cell instantly broke into foliage. Her body is untouched by corruption even unto this day, and lieth in a sort of perfumed oil, regarded with godly reverence. She was famous for miracles both before and after her death, and was numbered by Gregory XV, among the Saints.


The photos represent the view of town of Avila and the family house of St. Teresa