Teresa of Avila  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

Teresa (1515-1582) was one of the great figures of 16th century Spanish Catholicism and one of the great Christian mystics, period. Hers was a family of converted Jews that came under the scrutiny of the Inquisition. Her parents were opposed to her vocation and she had to sneak out of her house early one morning to go to the Carmelite convent she felt drawn to join. The Carmelites of those days had gotten somewhat lax, and she began a reform movement which resulted in the foundation of twenty or so convents during her lifetime. Both men and women were subject to her authority; one of these was the equally great mystic John of the Cross. She wrote a number of works, her masterpiece being The Interior Castle.

On her feast today, rather than a long quote from the Castle--I always get depressed when I try to figure out which of the seven mansions I'm in at my present stage of spiritual development--I'd like to share three of her poems with you. Before we get to that, I want to mention two things of related interest. First is a book by Rowan Williams, Teresa of Avila (Continuum 2000), which he wrote before becoming chief cat-herder of the Anglican Communion. I found it very informative without being overbearingly academic.

I should also mention the existence of a community of Byzantine rite Carmelites in Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania. Their website is worth a visit.

Christ has no body

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
yours are the eyes through which is to look out
Christ's compassion to the world.
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good,
yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.

God alone is enough

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

Let mine eyes see

Let mine eyes see thee, sweet Jesus of Nazareth,
let mine eyes see thee, and then see death.
Let them see that can, Roses and Jessamine,
seeing thy face most fair, all blossom are therein.
flower of Seraphim, sweet Jesus of Nazareth.
Let mine eyes see thee, and then see death.
Nothing I require, where my Jesus is,
anguish all desire, saving only this,
all my help is his, he only succoreth.
Let mine eyes see thee, and then see death.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at Wednesday, October 15, 2008 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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