“Give it time and God will capture you and make you his own exclusively in accordance to your generosity. Don’t expect signs and wonders. Aim only to be kind, compassionate, patient, and gentle as Jesus showed. Enjoy God’s presence, silence and his good pleasure.”
Saint Teresa was born in Avila, Spain, March 28, 1515. She died in Alba, October 4, 1582. Her family origins have been traced to Toledo and Olmedo. Her father, Alonso de Cepeda, was a son of a Toledan merchant, Juan Sanchez de Toledo and Ines de Cepeda, originally from Tordesillas. Juan transferred his business to Avila, where he succeeded in having his children marry into families of the nobility. In 1505 Alonso married Catalina del Peso, who bore him two children and died in 1507. Two years later Alonso married the 15-year-old Beatriz de Ahumada of whom Teresa was born. Saint Teresa is the Doctor of Prayer. Her writings on this subject are unsurpassed. One of her favorite prayers for many years was the Our Father Prayer and through it she was raised to the heights of contemplation despite numerous distractions, traveling, and diversified duties in her reform efforts with the Order of Mount Carmel called the Discalced Carmelites. However, despite major disappointments, setbacks, and discouragements, nothing prevented her from staying focused in doing God’s holy will in all manners. She was mainly responsible for the renewal, reform, and the expansion of the Carmelites throughout Spain for many years despite poor health and a host of spiritual challenges. Her patience in organizing, continual prayer, and goodwill helped her acheive major expansions and the rebuilding of the Order at a time when laxity and a easy lifestyle permeated into the contemplative life for religious living. Complacency and lack of disciple prevailed and Teresa felt a call by the Lord for more dedicated and consecrated efforts to live out one’s religious vows with prayer and sacrifice and for the building up of the holiness of the church and individual sanctity. Not without reason did the church proclaimed Sts Teresa and St Catherine of Siena the first women Doctors of the Church in 1970.
Teresa was a wise and practical woman who was extraordinarily kind and charitable, and greatly gifted in the explanations of the highest degrees of prayer and union with God, and love of neighbor. Teresa assures us that those who practice prayer faithfully will receive all they ask beyond their greatest expectations and hope. God used her to rebuild and expand many convents and monasteries as she radiated smiles, humor, and goodwill amidst heavy crosses and conflicts. She wrote: “Anyone who has not begun to pray,(regularly and daily ) I beg, for the love of the Lord, not to miss so great a blessing. There is no place here (in the convent) for fear, but only desire.” This extraordinary Hispanic woman was beset with numerous challenges both within the church and in her own religious order. Despite the insurmountable hardships she faced, her obedience to authority, faithfulness to prayer, and docility to the Holy Spirit to carry out her call and mission, never wavered despite great controversies and sufferings. Her trust in God and Jesus Christ, her Beloved, was what she treasured and what she held onto with her whole being. She confessed that “…I know from experience-namely that no one who has begun this practice (of daily prayer) however many sins he may commit, should never forsake it.”