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Beyond Blue

Teresa of Avila: Our Prayers Need Not Be Perfect


In my daily meditational “Magnificat,” I read an excerpt from Teresa of Avila that gave me hope that we need not have perfect faith for our prayers to be heard by God. She writes:

I was alone then without any person in whom I could find some support, unable to pray vocally or read, but terrified by so much tribulation and fear as to whether the devil would deceive me, completely agitated and wearied without knowing what to do with myself. I remained in this condition for four or five hours, because there was no consolation for me either from heaven or from earth; the Lord left me to suffer and fear a thousand dangers. 


All fails me, my Lord; but if you do not abandon me, I will not fail you. Let all learned men rise up again me, let all created things persecute me, let the devils torment me; do not you fail me, Lord, for I already have experience of the gain that comes from the way you rescue the one who trusts in you alone.

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  • kate/deepwithin

    “Bidden or not bidden, God is there.” ~ Jung

  • Jason

    Read more about Santa Teresa de Ávila, because she IS interesting, and also religious, but also crazy nuts. But religious people can read into what they want, but a more intelligent person would read all the information not just an excerpt from a prayer to acheive their aims. (aims of the website)
    for example
    -She lived in 16th century Spain. Time of the Holy Inquisition where you were either christian or you came to an unfortunate end: persecution, death, exiled, imprisoned.
    -A time where women particularly were prejudiced: to be free you were either a princess or a nun
    – So think about what she writes and “why” she writes. (survival)
    -Theresa was crazy mad. Self-reportedly had “visions” and “levitations”. Never mind that these could easily be explained by the fact that she would fast for days on end all while undergoing self-mortification of the flesh is whipping herself and cutting herself: all to bring her closer to God.
    -These episodes left her so sick that her frail body was constantly in a state of illness. Compare this with Indians that went into the desert without food or water to experience their visions. It’s more a matter of brain chemistry.
    Anywho, just wish people would truely SEEK their enlightenment by going to a library every now and then instead of just listening to what another person says.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Carol

    Many of the saints, had they lived in our time, would have been either institutionalized or drugged into catatonic oblivion.

    Brain chemistry? Probably; but that is only part of the explanation, a half-truth, which is the worst kind of lie.

    Before the dualism that has been given philosophical expression by DeCartes, nature and Grace were not believed to be radically opposed to each other. The Catholic Church still teaches, although does not always practice, the belief that “grace builds on nature.” I prefer the Eastern Orthodox formula, “Grace transfigures nature.” What was called a “dionysian ecstacy” by ancient Greeks and was often named the “Divine madness” in the East is labeled a “manic episode” in our secularized Western society.

    In simpler, perhaps wiser, cultures, uncomplicated by Western technologies, psychological fireworks like these are not so much a matter of concern. It is understood that, when the visionary/mystic gets hungry, s/he will return to the practical concerns of mundane daily life.

    ‘[The world] has reached a major watershed
    in history, equal in importance to the turn
    from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
    It will demand from us a spiritual effort;
    we shall have to rise to a new height of
    vision, to a new level of life, where our
    physical nature will not be cursed, as in the
    Middle Ages, but even more importantly, our
    spiritual being will not be trampled upon,
    as in the Modern Era.’ ~Alexander Solzhenitsyn, ‘A World Split Apart

    The spiritual challenge of our time is to realize our sacred humanness, that there need not be a conflict between the natural and the supernatural, between the finite and the infinite, between time and eternity, between practicality and mysticism, between social justice and contemplation, between sexuality and spirituality, between our human fulfillment and our spiritual realization, between what is most human and what is most sacred.
    –Kabir Helminski, The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Shelly

    Thank you for posting this today. St. Teresa of Avila is a favorite saint of mine and the patron saint of the church I attend. I am so glad to know and it brings me great consolation as well, the saints struggled too. I know that God is there for me at ALL times. He will never forsake me. I struggle with the doubts and fears of slipping into a long term depression again especially after 3 days of it. I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel if I continue on towards it. I will be at peace again. I don’t like these struggling, seemingly God absent times but I know that the circle will be complete again and my heart will be at rest.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Skylark

    Thanks Theresa….and Carol..for your hope-filled quotes!It is through perserverence that character is built and hope is restored.
    As another great saint,St Paul, tells us, hope does not disappoint. We need to recall this to overcome the prevalence of the negativity of the current nihilistic secularism of our culture. The saints give us courage and hope by the example of their lives thru the trials and times they overcame. Always remember we are, as they were, on a journey. All journeys end! If we perservere ( and with the help of the saints and God’s grace)we will replace our misery with great joy…for all eternity. Stay strong and hold on to the faith of the saints! They are that great cloud of witnesses championing us forward to the goal! Depression, anxiety,all forms of weakness, can be our “stepping stones” toward our own sanctity. Crosses eventually are turned into crowns…as this most holy of weeks we are in reminds us! Turn your face to the sun….or the Son, as it shines for you!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nancy

    I was happy to read about St. Teresa of Avila in this first newsletter I received. Recently in a book of Catholic devotions I came across a phrase she repeated all through her day. I have been using it and it is a blessing.
    Let nothing disturb you
    Let nothing cause you fear
    God’s love is unchanging
    God will protect you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nancy

    I repeated it because when I posted it the first time they told me I had an invalid e-mail. As St. Teresa might have said, MEA CULPA, Mea Maxima Culpa.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Belleo

    I love the saints . Yes they suffered because suffering is part of humankind . Going East at one time I thought all my problems would be solved by Buddhism . Buddhists suffer just like we do . The saints followed Jesus . They suffered , they prayed , they had faith they made it to the Kingdom that was already in their hearts .
    I can’t say that I pray to Saint Theresa of Avila . Saint Ignatius of Loyola I talk with once in a while . I remember saying to him that I needed help with the horrendous pain I was in . Lying down on the floor I felt a soft rain falling within me. The garden within needed watering . Thanks for your post Therese . Marie

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