St. Teresa of Avila is someone who knows the process of reforming oneself all too well. She grew up with a good Catholic family, but she fell into the sin of vanity. This self-centered attitude remained with her even when she entered the convent. At the time, the convent that she lived in, allowed its nuns luxuries that defied the vow of poverty.
For a while, Teresa centered her life on pleasing others and leading a “minimalist”, spiritual lifestyle, making sure that she didn’t commit any serious sins, but also avoiding any means of improving her virtues. It wasn’t until Teresa lost her father and encountered a wise mentor in the form of a Dominican priest that she started turning her life around.
It took a long time, though, for her to finally acknowledge her vanity. In fact, what finally got Teresa to learn humility and completely devote her life to Jesus was when she saw a statue of Christ in his bloodied, beaten, battered form.
To quote her autobiography:
“It was a representation of Christ most grievously wounded; and so devotional, that the very sight of it, when I saw it, moved me—so well did it show forth that which He suffered for us. So keenly did I feel the evil return I had made for those wounds, that I thought my heart was breaking. I threw myself on the ground beside it, my tears flowing plenteously, and implored Him to strengthen me once for all, so that I might never offend Him any more.”
Saint Teresa of Avila spent the rest her life reforming the Carmelite order, even when the odds were against her, and during times that people disapproved of her. Eventually, she would write works that centered on the reformation of the soul:
The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle .
I highly recommend you read them, along with her autobiography. We may not struggle with obvious addictions such as alcohol, drugs, or pornography, but there are other addictions that we may not be aware of. We can easily be addicted to our own vanity or our desire to please other people.
We may be trying to live a minimalistic spirituality instead of giving ourselves completely to God. We may say that we are living holy lives, but our actions may contradict our words. In other words, we have a lot in common with how St. Teresa of Avila was during her youth and adulthood.
Thankfully, my dearest sisters in Christ, we can learn from St.Teresa of Avila by reforming our souls during this Lenten season. We can meditate on the crucified Christ the way that she did and understand the true meaning of humility.
And even when we fall, these words from St.Teresa can be a good motivation for us to get back up again:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone Suffices
1.What are some things that you struggle with? Do you identify with what Paul said in Romans 7:15-20? Do you feel like your constant struggles are beyond God’s help?
2.What parts of St. Teresa’s life did you feel drawn to the most?
3.How does the image of the Crucified Christ make you feel?