Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Feast of St. Teresa of Avila

Artist: Peter Paul Rubens
Image from Wikimedia Commons

I found an article on Teresa of Avila by Raymond G. Helmick S.J. today. Here's an excerpt:
Teresa's way of prayer, which she taught the nuns of her convents, is the main topic of her writings and one of the principal values she brings to us since. She had been brought up to think of prayer only as recitation of texts, whether of the prayers she had learned to repeat in private or of the Latin Psalms she recited together with her community in choir, and had realized that there was another whole world in mental prayer, the free prayer that breaks away from all these formulas. We misrepresent this prayer if we think of it primarily in terms of visions and raptures. She does report these herself, though far more seldom than do those around her who let their imaginations get away with them. The visions came mostly in the earliest years of her life of prayer, notably the vision of an angel with a fiery dart. But she came to regard even that as far less important than the experience of simply letting herself be quiet in God's presence. From an early stage, she describes her prayer thus:

I tried as I could to keep Jesus Christ, our God and our Lord, present within me, and that was my way of prayer. If I reflected upon some phrase of his Passion, I represented Him to myself interiorly.
So true. The "phenomena" of prayer are of little consequence. Traditionally they are considered to be for beginners. Simply being quiet in God's presence is the deep mystery and condition of utmost beauty.

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