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Keeping Connected to Christ, St. Teresa Style

October 17, AD2013 1 Comment

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\”Life is short, read the saints,\” once quipped the late Dr. John Senior, the inspiring humanities professor of Kansas University. In his book, The Restoration of the Christian Culture, he lists a few saintly books that are must reads before we die. One in particular, is apropos to mention this week for her feast day, October 15. St. Teresa of Avila\’s work, The Way of Perfection, is a Carmelite and Catholic classic. It is a must-read. Fr. Raphael of Marylake Carmelite Monastery in Little Rock, AR recommends to anyone wishing to read St. Teresa to begin here with this work.

For a connection to Christ in mental prayer, there is no better part of the book than the 26th chapter. Here St. Teresa shows us a simple but enveloping method of connecting with Christ. It is a form of attentive prayer that glances at Jesus to recognize his presence. You can find the whole work of The Way of Perfection online, but you can also order the Instistute of Carmelite Studies (ICS) Study Edition translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, which I (and more importantly, many spiritual directors of the Carmelite order) recommend. Here is part of Chapter 26 which I hope is a help for prayer and a small manner for honoring St. Teresa, virgin and doctor.

As you know, the  first things must be examination of conscience, confession of sin and the  signing of yourself with the Cross. Then, daughter, as you are alone, you must  look for a companion — and who could be a better Companion than the very Master Who taught you the prayer that you are about to say? Imagine that this  Lord Himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly He is  teaching you — and, believe me, you should stay with so good a Friend for as  long as you can before you leave Him. If you become accustomed to having Him at your side, and if He sees that you love Him to be there and are always  trying to please Him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send Him away, nor will He ever fail you. He will help you in all your trials and you will  have Him everywhere. Do you think it is a small thing to have such a Friend as that beside you?

O sisters, those of you whose minds cannot reason for long or whose  thoughts cannot dwell upon God but are constantly wandering must at all costs form this habit. I know quite well that you are capable of it –  for many years I endured this trial of being unable to concentrate on one subject, and a very sore trial it is. But I know the Lord does not leave us so devoid of help that if we approach Him humbly and ask Him to be with us He will not grant our request. If a whole year passes without our obtaining what we ask, let us be prepared to try for longer. Let us never grudge time so well spent. Who, after all, is hurrying us? I am sure we can form this habit and  strive to walk at the side of this true Master.

I am not asking you now to think of Him, or to form numerous conceptions of  Him, or to make long and subtle meditations with your understanding. I am asking you only to look at Him. For who can prevent you from turning the eyes of your soul (just for a moment, if you can do no more) upon this Lord? You are capable of looking at very ugly and loathsome things: can you not, then, look at the most beautiful thing imaginable? Your Spouse never takes His eyes off you, daughters. He has borne with thousands of foul and abominable sins which you have committed against Him, yet even they have not been enough to make Him cease looking upon you. Is it such a great matter, then, for you  to avert the eyes of your soul from outward things and sometimes to look at Him? See, He is only waiting for us to look at Him, as He says to the  Bride. If you want Him you will find Him. He longs so much for us to look at Him once more that it will  not be for lack of effort on His part if we fail to do so.

Filed in: Education, History

About the Author:

A priest of Little Rock, a fan of St. Philip Neri, Pope Benedict XVI, the New Evangelization and the Washington Nationals. Addicted to coffee and mexican food.

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