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St. Teresa of Avila

Happy Saint Teresa of Avila Day! As we lovingly remember her on this day, I think of Saint Teresa of Avila Day 2007, when I said Mass in front of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Czestochowa, Poland. It was an incredible experience, and one I will never forget. The Mass was early in the morning, and I was so groggy. I did not have any coffee or breakfast before Mass and had some jet lag. I was trying very hard to knock the cobwebs out of my head so I could properly set up the Roman Missal for Saint Teresa of Avila in the sacristy of the shrine. 

Saint Teresa of Avila is a doctor of the Church. Her books about the spiritual life are considered classics. The Interior Castle may be her most beloved of all her writings. She is certainly one of the most beloved saints in Spain and in Latin America. She wasn’t too beloved when sought to reform her Carmelite Order, as she did experience some opposition. At one point, even the town was against her! But after being in a convent for twenty years that was like a club for young women, she realized she truly longed for a place filled with prayer, silence, and fasting. Saint Teresa did receive permission to begin such a community, and the reformed Carmelite convent was called “discalced,” meaning shoeless. The nuns in the Discalced Carmelites wore simple rope sandals with their habit. I wonder in some circles if former Cleveland Indian Shoeless Joe Jackson was called Discalced Joe Jackson.

Saint Teresa was friends with Saint John of the Cross. Saint John of the Cross shared the same passion for prayer and simplicity. He also helped reform the Carmelite Order for men. Both Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross lived in the 16th Century. The two of them, with their love for Christ, prayer, and simplicity, brought much needed reform to the Carmelites. To this day, the Carmelites offer spiritual direction and provide many wonderful retreat centers to help others grow in their relationship with the Lord. Lastly, I also read that Saint Teresa of Avila is the patron saint of headache sufferers. Throughout her life Saint Teresa suffered from migraines. So when you reach for the Extra Strength Tylenol when your head is pounding, be sure to ask Saint Teresa for some prayers. God bless and stay safe!

In Christ,

Fr. Steve Breck
Pastor, St. Mary Magdalene