15 October – Memorial for St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor
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
I, having once heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus, and the love that you show towards all the saints, have never failed to remember you in my prayers and to thank God for you. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you to full knowledge of him. May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit and how infinitely great is the power that he has exercised for us believers. This you can tell from the strength of his power at work in Christ, when he used it to raise him from the dead and to make him sit at his right hand, in heaven, far above every Sovereignty, Authority, Power, or Domination, or any other name that can be named not only in this age but also in the age to come. He has put all things under his feet and made him, as the ruler of everything, the head of the Church; which is his body, the fullness of him who fills the whole creation.
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.’
A spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed.
Our family is going through a tough period now. A time where we are learning to let go of our own selfish intentions – though filled with loving intent. Coming to terms with the impending departure of a loved one is never easy. Especially so when we are close to, and love the person so dearly. The pain is immense and we wonder how we will ever get through it.
Today’s reflection is dedicated to my loving cousin. She is such a woman of faith and trust in our Lord. She was diagnosed with Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumours or GISTs some six years ago. This type of tumour is uncommon and there is no effective known treatment for this. As traditional chemotherapy has not worked well against GISTs, no standard chemo regimens were recommended. My cousin was given 12 -18 months before the inevitable. The advice was to go on a clinical trial. But that’s all it was – a trial. She participated in the clinical trial but never completed it. The drugs affected her health and heart, so she stopped taking them. Yet she was the only one who survived. The others on the clinical trial have since passed on. Each time she heard about the passing of someone on the trial, her heart sank. Nonetheless, our Lord cannot be outdone in His generosity. He has blessed her in ways beyond our comprehension and expectations. Six glorious years have passed since her dismal diagnosis. She travelled, ate well, spent precious time with loved ones and, above all, continued to serve the Lord in whatever way she could.
Today, the news is a little less upbeat. The cancer is back and is spreading fast and furious. Just two month ago, we were enjoying each other’s company on a cousins-only vacation. Today, the excruciating pain engulfs her entire body and she is unable to eat. However, she remains strong in spirit, is alert when the pain is controlled and continues to trust and praise God. She is fully aware of what is happening to her body, and she is not afraid. A priest that went to see her recently asked that in her agony and pain, she lift up her prayers for all priests, especially for him! He needed her intercession. I learnt that day that the prayers of those suffering are very powerful. She good naturedly agreed and has been praying for the priests and those who asked her to pray for them. How selfless and trusting she is of Our Lord! She always knew that whatever time given was by God’s grace and she was going to spend each moment to the very fullest. At the same time, she is at peace with God and is prepared for the day when the Lord calls her home.
For the rest of us, the mere thought of death frightens us. Hence we never ever give it a thought. Even those of us suffering terminal illnesses, choose not to address it – the eventuality. Those of us grieving over the loss of loved ones, or people like me, who refuse to come to terms with the eventual departure of a loved one. We are so blinded and engulfed by our own selfish sadness that we fail to see God’s hand in this. We hold onto to our sick loved one, even when the person is at peace and ready. But God has given us a spirit of wisdom, to seek God, to trust and give us hope. To see beyond our current circumstance. To see what God wants of us, to see what hope his calls holds for you, what rich glories he has promised.
So brothers and sisters, today we pray that we might have eyes to see prophetically. To see as God sees. To have the courage to ask God what He wants to show us during this time of crisis, to open our eyes to understand the purposes of our calling. Two days ago, my cousin sent me a message to say that she missed me and wanted to see me for a quiet and personal chat. We have a date tomorrow. I believe that through all of her suffering, there is also a role for me in all of this. I just have to let the Lord show me what my purpose is.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, may we be filled with the spirit of wisdom to see what Jesus is seeing, doing, revealing and saying. Open our eyes to see as you see. Open our ears to hear what you are saying and give us the courage to say “Yes!” to what you are asking of us.
Thanksgiving: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of wisdom – for our living, for our service and for our worship.