St Teresa of Avila

On Sunday 15 October we contemplated the life of St Theresa of Avila at the monthly Evening service. 

In the profound tranquility of St Martha's, we thought about the achievements of the woman who lived through the Spanish Inquisition, reformed the order of Carmelite nuns and as mystic and teacher wrote books about contemplative prayer and the soul's union with God.

Teresa wanted people to see that there is more to praying than simply talking to God.  Praying is about listening to God too.  But ultimately, 

"prayer is simply being with God
and being filled with God's love."

"It is love alone that
gives worth to all things" 

In "The Interior Castle", she describes the mystical life in terms of walking through seven rooms in a great castle.  God is in the innermost room, calling for you.  But first, you have to make your way through the other rooms and each room has challenges to face.  Outside the castle, it is dark and there are lots of scary creatures.

This picture of the East window in St Martha's, an Ascension Window, shows Jesus rising from the ground with his hands held in a position suggesting that we might be held between them.  Teresa wrote:

"Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world."

She also  wrote:

"Let nothing disturb you

Let nothing make you afraid.

All things are passing.

God alone never changes.

Patience gains all things.

If you have God you will want for nothing.

God alone is enough."