“Give me, if you will, prayers;
Or let me know dryness,
An abundance of devotion,
Or if not, then barrenness.
In you alone, Sovereign Majesty,
I find my peace,
What do you want of me?
Yours I am, for you I was born:
What do you want of me?”
― Teresa of Ávila
Today was the Feast day of Teresa of Ávila. At church we noted her contribution as a Doctor of the Faith by reading some of her quotes. We each took from a basket a slip of paper with one of her writings. Each in turn offered her words and we reflected on how these words impact us. It was a moving experience for me. The collective proclamation that came from the small group gathered around the table, talking about their faith and how God is at work in their own lives and in the lives of the world was a great gift. It was proof positive of one of the quotes shared today: “But to get to know God’s friends is a very good way of ‘having’ Him.” The sheet that I pulled had these words on it –
“This Beloved of ours is merciful and good. Besides, he so deeply longs for our love that he keeps calling us to come closer. This voice of his is so sweet that the poor soul falls apart in the face of her own inability to instantly do whatever he asks of her. And so you can see, hearing him hurts much more than not being able to hear him… For now, his voice reaches us through words spoken by good people, through listening to spiritual talks, and reading sacred literature. God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how half-hearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.”
I could not agree more that ‘God calls us in countless little ways all the time.’ God is speaking to us in the midst of all things. We often neglect to see the varied and often simple ways in which God calls us. God voice reaches us through the sharing of our friends when we gather. Today I could see these words made manifest – Jesus was made present in word, in sacrament, in sharing, in fellowship. I am fortunate to have opportunity to break bread with people and hear how Jesus is at work in our community. I am certain that Teresa is quite right about God rejoicing at our learning – God had much to rejoice about.
Here are the rest of Teresa of Ávila’s quotes that were read earlier today –
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
May today there be peace within you.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities
that are born of faith in you.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into our bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and everyone of you.
Thank God for the things that I do not own.
Love turns work into rest.
Untilled ground, however rich, will bring forth thistles and thorns; so also the mind of man.
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
The closer one approaches to God, the simpler one becomes.
It is of great importance, when we begin to practise prayer, not to let ourselves be frightened by our own thoughts.
Never suppose that either the evil or the good that you do will remain secret, however strict may be your enclosure.
As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them, or how precious they are — those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty. All our interest is centred in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle — that is to say, in these bodies of ours.
O God, who by your Holy Spirit moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.