Tuesday, October 14, 2008

La Madre

October 15 is the Feast Day of Saint Teresa of Ávila

The walled city of Ávila de los Caballeros, Spain

Baptized as Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, and also known as Teresa of Jesus... Bernini sculpted her in limp, lanquid ecstasy, but that's not the way she was commonly known. She was one tough woman, who when asked about the threat of having to possibly appear before the Inquisition, indicated that she might "go and pay it a visit of my own accord." In the process of reforming her own Carmelite order, she ran into the like-minded Juan de Yepes Alvarez (aka St. John of the Cross) for the first time in the company of another Discalced Friar. Teresa took one look a the five-foot-three Fray Juan and the other man and quipped "The Lord has sent me a monk-and-a-half." She came, however, to develop an great love and respect for him. Other quotes indicating the steel of the author of The Interior Castle:

“Strive like strong men until you die in the attempt, for you are here for nothing else than to strive.”

"Rest, indeed!" I would say. "I need no rest; what I need is crosses."


Garpu said...

I really need to read more about her...

Paula said...

Hi Jeff, thanks that you posted about St Teresa.
I love her. Her God-alone-is-enough was one of the things that kept me going while ill (anxiety disorder and burn-out).

Jeff said...

Hi Jen,

You and me, both. I have some books of hers I need to crack open again. Ron Rolheisr has written a lot in a clear way about the other well-known Carmelites like John of the Cross and Therese Lesieux, but I don't know if he's written much about St. Teresa. I'll need to look around.

Hi Paula. Thanks. I like the quote that you put up. It was so much better than the ones I used.

Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough.

I'm glad you're feeling better.

cowboyangel said...

Teresa was an extraordinary woman. Great writer, too.

And Avila is one of the most spiritually intense places I've ever been. Something very powerful there. Not a joyful place, per se - it always seemed to be grey and moody when I was there. It's that rugged, mysterious, Castilian mystical thing.

Did you go there, Jeff, when you were in Spain?

Jeff said...

Nope, I got as far north as Segovia, which just blew me away, but never to the west.

Toledo, though, of all the foreign cities I've ever seen, is my favorite