15 Oct – Memorial for St Teresa of Jesus, Virgin & Doctor of the Church
Also known as Teresa of Avila, Teresa of Jesus (1515–1582) was born to the Spanish nobility, the daughter of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and Dona Beatriz. She grew up reading the lives of the saints, and playing at “hermit” in the garden.
Crippled by disease in her youth, which led to her being well educated at home, she was cured after prayer to St. Joseph. Her mother died when she was 12, and Teresa prayed to Our Lady to be her replacement. Her father opposed her entry into religious life, so she left home without telling anyone, and entered a Carmelite house at 17. Seeing her conviction to her call, her father and family consented.
Soon after taking her vows, Teresa became gravely ill, and her condition was aggravated by the inadequate medical help she received; she never fully recovered her health. She began receiving visions and was examined by Dominicans and Jesuits, including St. Francis Borgia, who pronounced her visions to be holy and true.
She considered her original house too lax in its rule, so she founded a reformed convent of St. John of Avila. She founded several houses, often against fierce opposition from local authorities. She was a mystical writer, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 27 September 1970 by Pope Paul VI. She is known for ‘holy wit’.
“God, deliver me from sullen saints.” – St. Teresa of Avila
– Patron Saint Index
The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith. That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us. As scripture says: I have made you the ancestor of many nations – Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.
Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I tell you, if anyone openly declares himself for me in the presence of men, the Son of Man will declare himself for him in the presence of the angels. But the man who disowns me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence of God’s angels.
‘Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
‘When they take you before synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how to defend yourselves or what to say, because when the time comes, the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.’
Abraham believed and hoped against all expectation
I will be 37 next year. I am starting to worry about my fertility statistics. The March of Dimes studies (http://www.marchofdimes.com/Pregnancy/trying_after35.html) have found that the risk of miscarriage rises to 20% if you’re within the ages 35-39, from only 9% if you’re aged 20-24. If you’re above 40, the odds of a miscarriage rise to 50%. At 25, a woman has a 1-in-1,250 chance of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome. At age 30, the odds rise to a 1-in-1,000 chance; at age 35, a 1-in-400 chance; at age 45, a 1-in-30 chance. My statistics deteriorate rapidly through my 30s and fall off a cliff, at 40. The odds are starting to stack up against me yet I am no closer to deciding on whether I should start to prioritize motherhood.
Will I one day look back and wish I had chosen otherwise? If it is too late by then, will I regret? And if I regret, what will that regret feel like? Will I be strong enough to withstand the pain of that regret? Will God send me an Abraham to be my rock on the nights when my faith wavers from despair? I have no answers, but it is starting to keep me awake at night. I am waiting for a sign from Him, waiting to decide one way or other.
In yesterday’s reading, we see Abraham and Sarah helping each other through their barren years. The waiting is the hardest part. God can be silent. In despair, they try to solve the issue through their own means, but that is not God’s plan. Their heir Isaac, that God promises, finally arrives in the form of a miracle – a woman past her childbearing years yields a son demonstrating “God is Lord of life and death; he brings down to the grave and raises up… He lifts up lowly from the dust, and raises the poor from the ash heap” (1 Samuel 2: 6-8).
It’s hard to keep your faith strong when you’re waiting. Waiting tests a person’s strength and resolve. In waiting, we yield to His time and His agenda; “whoever acknowledges me before people, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But the one who denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8). If He is not ready to answer, how do I stop myself from wavering?
Scripture bears examples of barren women who waited and prayed till God finally blessed them, in His time, according to His plan. Hannah wept in despair, and in her distress poured her soul out before God (1 Samuel 1:1-28). God in His time blessed her with Samuel. Elizabeth, barren and bent with age, was blessed with John (Luke 1:13-25). Both women were bowed down with despair, but still prayed and waited for Him.
It is in trials that we discover the power of Christ working, “My grace is enough for you; my great strength is revealed in weakness… all the signs of a true apostle are found in me: patience in all trials, signs, miracles and wonders” (2 Cor 12: 9, 12). I have no solution for me. I will simply yield all my insecurity, my indecision, my growing panic and my deteriorating fertility statistics to Him. And wait patiently for Him to reveal His plans for me. All in His time.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We pray for all parents who are trying to conceive. May God bless them with strength, love and patience, while they await for their prayers to be answered, in His time, according to His plan.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our loved ones who patiently stand by us through our struggles – emotional, spiritual and physical.
Sun, 16 Oct – Isaiah 45:1.4-6; Thessalonians 1:1-5; Matthew 22:15-21; Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time