Why I So Dearly Love La Madre


from Journey to Carith
Peter-Thomas Rohrbach

[Quoting St Teresa]

They were saints in their own opinion, but when I got to know them better they frightened me more than all the sinners I had ever met. (referring to a local Church Ladies' Guild)

"Lord deliver us from sour-faced saints," she said. And the nuns of her convents leave us an unforgettable image of the saint playing the mandolin and dancing for her sisters at recreation. "My chief fear," she wrote, "is that the sisters should lose the spirit of joy by which the Lord leads them, for I know what a discontented nun is."

She prays to be delivered from foolish devotions, and she chides superiors who are too rigorous with their charges. On one of her travels she was criticized for eating an expensive partridge when it was served to her, and she looked up surprised and said, "There is a time for partridge and a time for penance."

Even the townspeople began to voice criticisms, and Teresa was publicly denounced from the pulpits in Avila. On one occasion she was attending Mass at St. Thomas' church with her sister, Juana, when the priest berated "nuns who left their convents to go and found new ones." Juana was extremely ingidnant, but when she turned to watch Teresa's reaction she saw that she had a smile on her face.

. . . but a more penetrating insight into her character might perhaps be gained from a phrase she employed so frequently in her writings--"I just laughed to myself."

Teresa was adamant on the point, but she met stern oppostion, especially from her friend Peter Ibanez. He wrote her a memorandum "two sheets long, full of refutations and theology." However, she remained unconvinced, "I replied that I had no wish to make use of theology, and I should not thank him for his learning in this matter if it was going to keep me from following my vocation and being true to the vow of poverty."

But most of all for her deep love of the God-born-Man Jesus Christ, for teaching us that the humanity of Jesus is as important as His divinity and that it is the humanity that bridges us to the divinity, showing that they could coexist.

Teresa was practical, apparently funny, a real talker (and she remained so throughout life) and yet deeply, deeply spiritual. She was an astounding woman and a Saint for all time, one from whom we might learn a great deal today if we were to open our ears to listen.

And apparently, she was stubborn as a mule. (Only a good quality when you're on God's side.)

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 19, 2005 4:05 PM.

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