Today, the Church celebrates Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (born March 28, 1515, at Gotarrendura (Ávila), Old Castile, Spain – died in the night of October 4-15, 1582 [when in Spain the Julian calendar was switched to the Gregorian calendar, dropping ten days] at Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, Spain).
She was a prominent Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, and writer of the Counter- Reformation. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. In 1970 she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.
Teresa lived in an age of exploration as well as political, social and religious upheaval. It was the 16th century, a time of turmoil and reform. She was born before the Protestant Reformation and died almost 20 years after the closing of the Council of Trent.
The gift of God to Teresa in and through which she became holy and left her mark on the Church and the world is threefold: She was a woman; she was a contemplative; she was an active reformer.
As a woman, Teresa stood on her own two feet, even in the man's world of her time. She was "her own woman," entering the Carmelites despite strong opposition from her father. She is a person wrapped not so much in silence as in mystery. Beautiful, talented, outgoing, adaptable, affectionate, courageous, enthusiastic, she was totally human. Like Jesus, she was a mystery of paradoxes: wise, yet practical; intelligent, yet much in tune with her experience; a mystic, yet an energetic reformer. A holy woman, a womanly woman.
Teresa was a woman "for God," a woman of prayer, discipline and compassion. Her heart belonged to God. Her ongoing conversion was an arduous lifelong struggle, involving ongoing purification and suffering. She was misunderstood, misjudged, opposed in her efforts at reform. Yet she struggled on, courageous and faithful; she struggled with her own mediocrity, her illness, her opposition. And in the midst of all this she clung to God in life and in prayer. Her writings on prayer and contemplation are drawn from her experience: powerful, practical and graceful. A woman of prayer; a woman for God.
Teresa was a woman "for others." Though a contemplative, she spent much of her time and energy seeking to reform herself and the Carmelites, to lead them back to the full observance of the primitive Rule. She founded over a half-dozen new monasteries. She traveled, wrote, fought—always to renew, to reform. In her self, in her prayer, in her life, in her efforts to reform, in all the people she touched, she was a woman for others, a woman who inspired and gave life.
As the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin became clear to her, she says she came to understand the awful terror of sin and the inherent nature of original sin. She also became conscious of her own natural impotence in confronting sin, and the necessity of absolute subjection to God.
Around 1556, various friends suggested that her newfound knowledge was diabolical, not divine. She began to inflict various tortures and mortifications of the flesh upon herself. But her confessor, the Jesuit Saint Francis Borgia, reassured her of the divine inspiration of her thoughts. On St. Peter's Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ presented himself to her in bodily form, though invisible. These visions of Jesus Christ lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, a seraph drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily pain.
“ I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it...  ”
This vision was the inspiration for one of Bernini's most famous works, the Ecstasy of St Theresa at Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.
The memory of this episode served as an inspiration throughout the rest of her life, and motivated her life-long imitation of the life and suffering of Jesus, epitomized in the motto usually associated with her: Lord, either let me suffer or let me die.
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The Pastoral Visitation Continues in the Eastern Region
222. Preparation for the Pastoral Visit.
The pastoral visit should be organized well in advance, and the faithful should receive suitable preparation through a special series of talks and sermons on themes concerning the nature of the Church, hierarchical communion, and the episcopate.
Above: A parishioner at St. Jean-Baptiste, L'Orignal greets me after the anticipated Sunday Mass
Above: A family at Paroisse St. Eugene
Pamphlets could be issued and other means of social communication could also be employed for this purpose. In order to highlight the spiritual and apostolic dimension, the pastoral visit may be preceded by a parish mission (685), intended to reach all parishioners, whatever their social level, including those who have fallen away from the practice of the faith.
Above: The old presbytery at Chute-a-Blondeau
The Bishop should also make suitable preparation for the visit by informing himself in advance of the socio-religious situation of the parish. Such information could prove useful to him and to the relevant diocesan offices in forming a true picture of the state of the parish community and in making appropriate provision.
Saturday, October 10 - L'Orignal, Saint Jean-Baptiste
Getting ready to celebrate the Eucharist
The Pastoral Team and the laity mandated to assist them
Sunday, October 11, Eucharist at St. Eugene
Left: Statue of Pope Saint Eugene, the parish patron; Right: The pastoral team and the mandated laity of St. Eugene
Sunday, October 11, Mass at Paroisse St. Joachim, Chute-a-Blondeau
The pastoral team and mandated laity of St. Joachim
Seniors from the residence next to the church share Thanksgiving Dinner with us following the Mass