St. Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa followed the path of so many saints. She grew up in a pious, yet conflicted home; that is her father was stricter than her mother. When she entered the convent it was an easier, less strict life than she had at home. She prayed as the Carmelite convent required, yet many times her prayers seemed perhaps shallow.She stuck with her prayer life though and grew with it. The convents were far from strict and faced many of the false corruptions (for lack of a better word) of the day. They were religiously lenient, lavish, and prone to parties. Many entered the convent for the social life rather than the religious. Teresa stuck with the convent and her prayers and writing throughout. She suffered malaria, which caused some health problems. She had visions which led to some mockery by her fellow sisters, and she continued to pray and converse with God.Over time she became disenchanted with the free ways of her convent and set out to start anew with a convent that was stricter, one that emphasised poverty  and prayer. She began a convent of disclaced Carmelites, “shoeless Carmelites.” Her efforts were met with ridicule, yet she stuck with this new order, and of course continued her conversations with God. Eventually she began to believe more in the value of her disclaced Carmelte convents and sought to start several more. Her efforts eventually led to a church reformation.

An interesting facet about Teresa’s spirituality is that it began very pedestrian and rather benign. Even though it had such a non committal start she stuck with her prayer life and allowed Jesus to grow in her life. Her transformation as not sudden, but gradual. It didn’t take a heroic leap, but just a simple step of prayer. She did not start out pursuing a great academic career, but simply wrote as part of her daily life. It is a sainthood that is very human and accessible even though she is declared a doctor of the church.

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