As I've mentioned before, sometime around the beginning of July I started to read The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself, for the second time. I only read about three or four pages every morning, and yesterday, on the eve of her feastday, I finally finished. And did I go to Mass today to celebrate her feast and my completion of the book? I did not, because I didn't even remember it was her feastday until I saw it mentioned on Facebook just now--another opportunity wasted.
This morning, I felt somewhat at a loss. St. Teresa has been my morning companion for so long now that I felt bereft without her. I'm almost tempted to start reading the book over again. It's a great introduction to Teresa and I found it much less daunting than Interior Castle. I'm looking forward to reading the latter sometime soon, but I think that first I will re-read Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel--On Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay. It's been quite some time since I read that, but I remember it as being very good.
Back in my charismatic days, I remember people telling me that St. Teresa warned against visions and the like, so I was surprised to find that this was not so at all--at least not in her autobiography. In fact, she describes three different kinds of visions in detail, and she does so at least partially so that we will recognize them when we experience them. The first is just a sensing of the presence of Jesus or whoever else might be manifesting himself to her at the moment. There really isn't any "vision" involved in this. Then there are visions which one sees in one's imagination, and finally, there are times when the vision appears in a sensible way.
Years ago, we attended The Heart of Spain exhibit at the Alexandria Museum of Art. It was the most magnificent exhibit I have ever seen, indeed, it was more like a spiritual experience than an art exhibit. There were two amazing images of St. Teresa there. One was The Communion of St. Teresa, which was a thousand times more beautiful than you can tell from this website, and huge--about 8' x 8'. The other was a larger-than-life carving of St. Teresa from the waist up in pretty much the same position as shown in the above picture, except that her arms were raised higher. It must have been about 1.5 times life-size. It made me feel as if I was being confronted with her overwhelming personality.
Well, this has been a rambling sort of a post, but I wanted to write something in honor of St. Teresa before the day passed. I'll close with her prayer, which I love, and which has stood me in good stead in many troubled times.
Let nothing disturb thee.
Let nothing afright thee.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patient endurance attains to all things.
Whom God possesses in nothing is lacking.
God never changes.