There is so much to say about St. Teresa of Jesus (3/18/1515 – 10/4/1582) who is honored today as one of only four women given the title “Doctor of the Church.” A Carmelite contemplative and mystic, writing extensively about the interior life, she was at the same time a woman of action, reformer of her community who worked tirelessly in spite of poor health at a time when the Church and the world were in great turmoil.
My life has often been punctuated by Teresa, beginning when I was 16 years old and spoke for the first time my desire to enter the convent to one of my high school teachers. In addition to her kind words, she gave me a small card with a prayer of Teresa printed on the back. I memorized the prayer which has shown up as a framed cross-stitch gift from a student, on a meaningful card at the time of my father’s death and in many conversations over the years when I or others needed support. For me, that is the gift of Teresa: her example of faithful love for and trust in God that carried her through every day no matter what was happening in her life and the life around her. A song by John Michael Talbot called Teresa’s Prayer has become a staple in prayer services that I create to remind participants of our place in this world. And recently I have come to love a chant by Darlene Franz, based on Teresa’s words. I sing it to myself, imagining God singing it to me when I am alone. I share these three texts in hopes that this great saint will be seen also as a companion on the spiritual journey giving voice to our own walk with God.
- Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you. All things are passing; God never changes. Patient endurance attains all things. The one who possesses God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.
- Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks with compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.
- Beautiful, gracious, painted in my heart, you were created for love. Beautiful, gracious, soul of my beloved, seek yourself in me.