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Posted by on Jul 17, 2009

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

St. Camillus de Lellis

St. Camillus de Lellis (feast day July 18) was the man in question. An earlier post gives more details of his life. However, in brief, here’s a thumbnail sketch of it. Born in the mid-1500s, he founded an order of religious men who dedicate their lives to the care of the sick and dying. But before be became the founder of a religious order, he was a soldier, a mercenary, a gambler, and overall rowdy fellow. His mother, who was nearing age 60 when he was born, had a dream in which she saw him wearing a cross on his chest. Those condemned to death wore crosses on their chests on their way to their execution, so she feared that he would grow up to be a criminal or leader of criminals. She died when he was about 13 and didn’t see his rowdy adolescence and young manhood. I assume she continued to intercede on his behalf after her death — and her prayers were answered. By the time he was 25, his life turned around and he dedicated his remaining years to care of the sick.

Today we take it for granted that Christians/Catholics will care for the sick and dying. We have many hospitals and religious orders that do just that. But in his time, it was a new idea. Sick and dying people who found themselves in hospitals rather than receiving care from loved ones in their beds at home were often neglected, fed as little as possible, sometimes beaten and even taken to the morgue before they were actually dead. Camillus believed that was wrong and set about to change that reality. He began working in a hospital from which he had been ejected as an unruly patient. He got rid of employees who abused patients and brought in others who would treat their patients with care and compassion. As he explained, “We want to assist the sick with the same love that a mother has for her only sick child.” It was not to be just a job or an impersonal service. In caring for the sick, the understanding of St. Camillus and his brothers in the order was that they were caring for Christ as they cared for the sick and dying.

Camillians were among the first to go out onto battlefields and care for the injured and dying. In this, they preceded today’s Red Cross by approximately three centuries. The red cross on a black cassock worn by Camillus and his followers was a reminder to them that hospitals, like churches, were also houses of God and the voices of the sick were music in God’s garden.

The life of Camillus de Lellis is a reminder to us that God does not call perfect people to do great works. God calls everyday, ordinary people to step up and try to make things better in the day to day world of their lives. Those who have not suffered a bit, gotten bumped around a bit by life, or even crashed into chasms of suffering from which they could not emerge without help are generally not going to be as capable of letting God work through them. If we think we can do whatever it is ourselves, then we don’t let the power of God burst through us to do it so much better. Saints like Camillus de Lellis show us how much can be done when we let God lead.

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Posted by on Jul 13, 2009

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

Saint of the Day: St. Henry of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor

7_13_henry2Holy Roman Emperor = Saint  – Is that even possible? Apparently so.

St. Henry of Germany was born to the Duke of Bavaria (in south Germany) on May 6th 973. He was educated by St. Wolfgang, the Bishop of Ratisbon. In 995 Henry succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria.

Emperor Otto III of the Holy Roman Empire was Henry’s cousin. Upon Otto’s death in 1002, Henry seized the royal insignia from Otto’s companions. His succession was strongly contested, but with the help of the Archbishop of Maniz, Willigis, Henry secured his royal election and coronation on June 7th, 1002. Henry was not crowned Holy Roman Emperor until 1014. He was the fifth and last emperor in the Ottonian dynasty.

As king, Henry worked on consolidating his power. He led successful campaigns against Poland and Italy. He became King of Italy in 1004, and established a lasting peace with the Poles in 1018.

Henry was convinced by Pope Benedict the VIII to make another campaign in Italy. In 1022 Henry set out to counter the growing Byzantine Empire. His objective was to capture the Byzantine Fortress of Troia in southern Italy. Henry used three armies in this campaign, but none of them were able to take Troia. One army, led by Pilgrim, Archbishop of Cologne, captured Pandulf IV, Prince of Capua and extracted oaths of allegiance from the principalityof Salenro and Capua. Henry sent Pandulf IV off to Germany in chains and put Pandulf of Teano in his place as prince. Although Henry failed to take his main objective, he was satisfied in knowing that western imperial authority still extended into southern Italy.

So, how much money did Henry have to bribe the Ministry of Magic with in order to become a Saint? (see Harry Potter for reference). Seizing royal insignia, arranging his rise to power, campaigning, all hardly seem to be Saint-like activities.

But Henry was not all about war and power. Henry was a prayerful man and was very generous to the poor. In fact, in addition to strengthening the German Monarchy, he also worked toward making a stable peace in Europe and helped to reform and reorganize the church. He strongly enforced clerical celibacy, but this was also for his own benefit, so that the public land granted to the church would always return to him upon the death of the cleric and not pass to an heir. This also ensured that the Bishops remained loyal to him (for he was the one to give them their power), which provided protection against ambitious nobles. Henry established multiple monasteries and arranged care for the poor. He built the Cathedral at Bamberg, which became a center for scholarship and art. Along with St. Odilo of Cluny and the other monks at Cluny (in France), Henry supported many religious reforms.  

At one time, Henry came down with an un-named illness and was miraculously cured at the Benedictine Monastery in Monte Cassino. From then on, Henry was very active in promoting Benedictine Monasticism.

Henry was married to St. Cunegund. They had no children and it is said that they had a mutual vow of chastity.

Henry died in 1024 and was canonized in 1146 – the only German king to be canonized. And no, he did not have to bribe the Ministry of Magic. A combination of securing and spreading Faith, caring for the poor, reforming the church, and remaining celibate and prayerful, Henry became a saint through his own actions. He is the patron of the childless, the disabled, Dukes, Kings, people rejected by religious orders, the handicapped, sterility and of the Benedictine Oblates.  

 

P.S If you  have not figured it out already, this post was not written by Kathy, but by her daughter Rosie 🙂

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Posted by on Jul 12, 2009

St. Maria Goretti – July 6

St. Maria Goretti – July 6

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The feast of St. Maria Goretti often leaves me feeling conflicted. Maria Goretti died in 1902 of stab wounds inflicted during an attempted rape when she was 11 years old. On her deathbed, she forgave the man (a 20 year old) who had mortally wounded her. He was the son of the family with whom Maria and her family were living. After serving his prison term, he lived an exemplary life as a lay member of the Capuchins (one branch of Franciscans). He was present for Maria’s canonization in 1950.

Apart from the speed with which the canonization process moved forward, I find myself wondering what it was that distinguished Maria Goretti from the thousands of other girls and women who have been raped and/or murdered by men who should have protected them. What made her suffering and death different from those of the other innocent victims of violence and violation among the women of the world?  Surely she is not the only one who has forgiven her attacker? Would she have been praised or even forgiven if she had submitted without a fight in the hopes of living on? What happens to victims who are not killed? What happens to those impregnated by their attackers?

Violence against women and girls has been a technique/weapon of war for centuries. When we hear of it today ocurring in non-Western countries, we “tut-tut” about the incivility of such behavior. We speak of enemy combatants versus innocent civilians. Generally we simply expect the women and their children to be helped and supported by their families and communities, though we know this is rarely the case. And we look down on cultures in which a woman who is no longer a virgin can never find a husband (read “social identity and security”) or be accepted as a respected member of her community. 

But are we in the Western world all that much better in the way we respond to women who have been raped? Recently I heard a prose poem on National Public Radio that quoted women who had been raped. They told about the experience and the reactions of their families, spouses, friends, police officers and medical personnel. They spoke of the fear and shame and sense of vulnerability they experienced in the moment. And then they told of the aftermath – as spouses treated them angrily or forced themselves on their wives in a sort of reassertion of ownership of their wives’ sexuality. They told of insensitive law enforcement officers and medical personnel, who assumed that their lack of physical wounds or signs of having been beaten meant that they had consented to the violation.

The poem ended with words I won’t soon forget, “I thought they would understand.” It was clear that the more hurtful and profound rape was the emotional and social one that these women were now forced to live. These women who are our sisters, mothers, neighbors, and friends.

So I think there are some fundamental questions we need to ask ourselves as a Christian community. How do we care for and support the woman who was the victim of this terrible aggression? How do we help her feel safe in her home again? How do we help her if she finds herself pregnant and alone afterwards? What if she is still a child herself? What if the strain of bearing her rapist’s child threatens to drive her over the edge into madness? How understanding and accepting are we if she submitted in order to save her life and/or that of her other children rather than fighting to the death?

While it is beautiful to praise a child who resisted the advances of a much older man and died as a result, I pray that we not stop there. Please, may the terrible accusation, “I thought they would understand” never be leveled against us because we focus too narrowly and insist that only one path through that awful valley of darkness is the right and praiseworthy one!

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Posted by on May 30, 2009

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

Saint of the Day – St. Joseph Marello – May 30

st-joseph-marello1

St. Joseph Marello was born in Turin on December 26, 1844. While he was still a young child, his mother died and his father moved the family back to San Martino Alfieri where they would be closer to their grandparents and other family members as they grew up.

Joseph was known to be a devout child and was well respected in his community. He entered the seminary for the first time in 1856 and remained until 1862, when he experienced a need to step out and experience life in the broader world. He went to Turin to study and remained there until early 1864, when he decided that his vocation was indeed to the priesthood. So at the age of 18, he returned to the seminary, expecting to spend his life as a parish priest.

In 1868 he was ordained and much to his surprise was assigned to serve as secretary to his bishop. In this role, he attended the First Vatican Council. As the bishop’s secretary, he was in a better position than many to be aware of the great need for outreach to young people and to serve the poor. He also gained much experience as a counselor and advisor to other priests.

Joseph Marello was very drawn to a life of quiet prayer and contemplation, considering entering the Trappists at one point. However, his bishop convinced him to remain in more active work within the church, so he continued his secretarial work.

One interesting characteristic of Joseph Marello was his appreciation of the power of personal communication through written letters. Predictable, reliable, timely mail service was a new thing in his day and he began at an early age to write to his friends. He encouraged them to do the same, so that they would not be isolated or grow apart. I suspect that today he would have his own blog and be an avid user of the Internet, Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites!

The Oblates of St. Joseph began in 1978, with a small group of 4 men who joined Joseph Marello to live together and serve the poor and orphaned at the Michelerio Orphanage in Asti, Italy.

Oblates, according to Webster’s Dictionary, are lay people who attach themselves to a monastery and give all they have over to the monastery. The original group of Oblates were all laymen. Eventually some priests began to join the group and the order expanded to welcome them. Today Oblates include priests, brothers and lay men and women who continue to live in their own homes and communities.

Joseph Marello and his companions chose St. Joseph as their patron and mentor, wishing to follow his example of quiet service to Jesus and his followers. His vision, as conveyed to his fellows, was that they should, “Be Carthusians indoors and Apostles outdoors.” In other words, they were to live intense spiritual lives which would spill over into active lives of service in the community outside their homes.

Eventually, Joseph Marello was called to serve as a bishop in the Church. He was sorry to leave the home he had shared with his companions, but entered fully into his new role as Bishop of Acqui. He served as bishop for 6 years, visiting parishes in his large diocese, writing letters and caring for his people. On May 30, 1895, while on a visit to Savona to celebrate the life and work of St. Philip Neri, he died.

The Oblates of St. Joseph have continued and now serve in 10 countries around the world. They continue to work with the poor, with young people and with the elderly and immigrants. Devotion to St. Joseph and loyalty to the Pope and Church teachings are hallmarks of the order.

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Posted by on Apr 29, 2009

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

St. Catherine of Siena – April 29

st-catherine-of-siena

April 29 is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, O.P. Catherine Benincasa was born in 1347 in Siena, Italy. She was the 25th and final child born to her parents. Her father was a wool dyer and her mother was mistress of a large and active household. (Catherine was actually a twin, but her sister died shortly after birth.)

As a girl, when asked who my patron saint was, the only St. Catherine I knew at the time was Catherine of Siena. So I decided to take her as my patroness. That was fine with my mother, since I hadn’t been particularly named with a saint in mind! I didn’t know much about her, but she seemed like a strong, intelligent, interesting woman, so I stuck with her.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned much more about her and have become much more impressed with her spunk, her intelligence, her courage and her great faith. She was a woman who took matters into her own hands at a time when parents, and particularly fathers of families, made life-determining choices for their children. She cut her hair rather than get married. She accepted her parents’ decree that she should become a servant of the family if she wouldn’t behave as a daughter was expected to behave. She spent many years devoted to prayer alone in a small room at home. She was a mystic who allowed the love of God to flow forth through her to those in the world around her. She ventured out into a turbulent world, becoming an advisor to popes and other leaders of church and state. She cared for plague victims and organized others to do so as well. For most of her life she couldn’t read or write, but that didn’t stop her. She dictated and sent letters to people great and small. She recorded her insights into the spiritual life in works that are read to this day. Her influence has lasted far beyond her short 33 years.

In 1970, she became one of the first two women honored as Doctor of the Church for her writings.

I asked several people who are familiar with the work of St. Catherine of Siena to share a short idea or two with us about her. These are the responses I received, in order received.

From Susan T. Mahan, Ph.D.
I like the fact that Catherine did not seek to be the center of attention even though she had an exceptional spiritual life. When her family was angry at her for refusing to marry and isolated her; then made her work as a servant and wouldn’t let her out of the house, she totally accepted it and prayed her way through the day. She was not resentful but saw the gift in her circumstances. She also followed her inner discernment as to what the Lord wanted for her and trusted Him. She did not bend to what others expected – her family, her social class, even the Pope.

From Michael Fones, O.P.
What I really admire about Catherine was her ability to cross boundaries and categories that normally would have been off limits to women – and often, even men. She traveled extensively, at a time when travel was unusual and dangerous. Because of her holiness, she was brought in to mediate between factions at odds with one another. She was, as Jesus said of those who are born from above, like the wind; you couldn’t tell where she came from or where she was going. I find her fascinating because of her single-minded devotion to the Blessed Trinity, and the intense personal relationship she had with God, which is so beautifully expressed in her masterpiece, the Dialogue.

From Sr. Barbara Long, O.P.
I think the most interesting things for me are all of her efforts in striving to bring peace to the Church and the warring city states of Italy. At the end of her life, she thought that she was a failure, and yet look what a legacy she has left us.

In these our turbulent times, the example of St. Catherine of Siena is one upon which we should all draw.

Image by Bro. Robert Lentz, OFM

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Posted by on Dec 23, 2008

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

Saint of the Day 12/23- St. John of Kanty (Cantius)

St. John of Kanty (June 24, 1390 –  December 24, 1473) was born in the town of Kenty near Oswiecim (Auschwitz) in the diocese of Cracow, Poland. St. John of Kanty had an easy going personality and a brilliant mind. At the age of 23 he enrolled in one of the oldest universities in Europe, the Cracow Academy.

St. John of Kanty spent most of the rest of his life studying philosophy and theology and becoming head of the department of philosophy. The only time he was away was a brief period during which he had been fired as a result of unjust charges brought by his rivals. He served for eight years as a parish priest, winning the hearts of his parishioners, who begged him to stay with them when his position at the University was restored. As a result of this experience, he is sometimes seen as a patron for those who are out of work or seeking work.

Founded in 1364, the Cracow Academy was renamed in 1817 as the Jagiellonian University to commemorate a Polish dynasty.  Copernicus registered at the Cracow Academy 80 years after John of Kanty first registered. Several centuries later another Polish philosopher at the Jagiellonian University, Carol Wojtyla – Pope John Paul II,  would look to St. John of Kanty as a patron. In his 1997 visit to his homeland, Pope John Paul II prayed at the tomb of St. John of Kanty as he had when he was a student. His address to professors of the university was based on the theme that summarized the life of St. John of Kanty –  knowledge and wisdom seek a covenant with holiness.

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Posted by on Dec 12, 2008

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

Our Lady of Guadalupe – December 12

Once again, today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

When I was a girl, this feast was not a major focus of my life. Growing up in Eastern Washington, in a community with relatively few Mexican Americans, we simply didn’t celebrate this feast.

Then I married into a Mexican American family and all that changed. I learned much more about Our Lady of Guadalupe. I discovered the traditions associated with her feast day. I got up early one morning to join the community in Oakland in singing the mañanitas at 5:30 a.m. We celebrated together in the liturgy and then had a wonderful breakfast of posole, champurrado and pan dulce (soup, chocolate/cocoa, and sweet Mexican bread) with the Mexican immigrants who were our English language students and friends.

When I was pregnant with our first child and nervous about the course of the pregnancy, my mother-in-law advised, “Just put it in Our Lady of Guadalupe’s hands. It’ll all be OK.” She was right. More than once since then Our Lady has gotten a problem dumped into her hands. It always turns out OK – not always the way I expected, but always OK.

Tonight we’ll again celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We don’t get up for mañanitas these days, but we do celebrate. We’ll get out the nice dishes, have a tasty dinner, and eat pan dulce with champurrado for dessert. And once again, we’ll celebrate the special relationship with Our Lady we enjoy as a Mexican American family.

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Posted by on Dec 4, 2008

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

Saint of the Day: St. John of Damascus – December 4

St. John of Damascus (676 – 794), a monk and priest, was a native of Damascus and was also Chief Councilor to the Caliph. As a Christian, he held an hereditary position of great importance under the Ummayid dynasty of Syria.  The Caliph was the chief religious and political leader of the Islamic world.

David Levering Lewis’s book, God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 – 1215, provides an interesting insight into this transitional world in which Christianity gives way to Islam. (God’s Crucible also deals with the ways in which Islam stopped at the Pyrenees and the reconquest of Spain.) There were roles for Christians and Jews as subordinate groups.

The Sassanid dynasty of the second Persian Empire (which included Syria) had been defeated a generation earlier by the Caliphate in 651. St. John of Damascus became a key religious and Christian cultural figure at a time of great transition. St. John of Damascus is often called the last of the Greek Fathers and signals the end of the great Patristic period in theological and philosophical reflection. The little that we know about his life is fragmentary and subject to historical criticism. What we do have and know are his writings.

In the various theological controversies of the Patristic period, in both the East and the West, the political and cultural context provides a fascinating dimension for appreciating the wider meaning and importance of these seemingly abstract issues and their very real importance not only to the faith but also to the wider culture.

Despite his contributions to law, philosophy, theology, and music, St. John of Damascus is best known for his role in the Iconoclastic controversy. The Byzantine court endorsed a movement that rejected the veneration of religious images. St. John of Damascus, a high official in the Islamic Caliphate in Damascus opposed the Emperor, Leo III, and supported the Patriarch of Constantinople in support of the veneration of icons and their public display. Ironically, the making and admiration of images of either a secular or sacred nature were not tolerated by Islam. Although Islam provides a place for Jesus as a prophet and accords a special place to Mary, St. John of Damascus exhalted her status in his writings on the Assumption of Mary into heaven. At a time of the repression of Christian culture, St. John of Damascus composed hymns that became the core of the Eastern liturgy and are sung even today.

It is perhaps only fitting that St. John of Damascus has become the subject of venerated icons. The one above is an Arabic icon from the the 19th century attributed to the iconographer Ne’meh Nasr Homsi and is now in the public domain.

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Posted by on Nov 11, 2008

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

Martinmas and Veterans Day

St. Martin as a bishop: modern icon in the chapel of the Eastern Orthodox Monastery of the Theotokos and St Martin, Cantauque, Provence.

St. Martin as a bishop: modern icon in the chapel of the Eastern Orthodox Monastery of the Theotokos and St Martin, Cantauque, Provence.

The feast of St. Martin of Tours, sometimes known as Martinmas, falls on November 11. In the United States, we celebrate November 11 as Veterans Day – a day we honor those who have served in the military of the country. It is a national holiday, though many businesses are open and retailers offer sales in the hope of luring people who are enjoing a day off!

As a child, I remember hearing people from my grandparents’ generation speak of the day as Armistice Day. This was the day, in 1918, on which World War I stopped. The Armistice was declared and hostilities were set to end at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – and so they did. That was a war called “The War to End All Wars,” but unfortunately, it didn’t. So, when World War II followed all too soon afterwards, the name of the day was changed to Veterans Day, in honor of all veterans.

It seems appropriate that the feast of St. Martin of Tours coincides with this day of honoring those who have served their countries militarily, as he too served in the army. His life and contributions to the Christian community are discussed in greater detail in an earlier post, and they were impressive. Nevertheless, he is most commonly known for the legend told about him, in which he is approached by a begger and asked for help. Martin is said to have cut his military cape in half and given half of it to the beggar. Later, in a dream, he saw Christ in the form of the beggar, wearing the cape.

Martin was not a Christian at the time he served in the Roman cavalry, but had entered the Catechumenate before entering the military. Before he left the army, he had been baptized. As his faith grew and deepened, he became convinced that as a Christian, he could not kill, even as a member of the military. He accepted arrest and imprisonment rather than fight. He volunteered to go to the front of the troops, unarmed, but a peaceful solution was reached before the battle, so he did not have to prove his courage and commitment to non-violence in that way.

It seems to me that Martin’s insight that killing is not the calling of Christians is one that has been shared by many men and women who have served or refused to serve in military forces through the centuries. Certainly, there have been times when Christians have turned their backs on this belief, even claiming that killing was done on behalf of God. For those times we must beg God’s forgiveness and that of those harmed. However, the veterans I have known generally will say that war is never the best answer to human disputes. Terrible things happen in war. It does not really resolve the problem between nations. Sometimes it seems to be the only way to stop a terrible evil, but it’s never the best option. (Stopping the Holocaust is often given as an example of a good reason to go to war, but it must be acknowledged that even World War II was fought not to stop the Holocaust – of which there was very little awareness outside of Europe – but rather to stop the military aggression of certain nations.) Martin of Tours would agree that war is never to be the first response of nations or their people to conflicts with others.

But what, you ask, is Martinmas? Martinmas is the name of the celebration of Martin’s feast in Europe. I first experienced the celebration of Martinmas when my sons were little and attending Waldorf school. (Waldorf schools celebrate many European Christian holidays.) It is a harvest festival. It is a festival that marks the end of Autumn weather and the beginning of Winter weather in many nations. The thing that was most fun about the feast was the custom of making lanterns and going out after dark to walk with the lanterns.

For a week or more before the feast, the children would make lanterns of paper. Some were simply construction paper colored by the children and rolled into a cylinder with a bottom and a wire handle. Others were more elaborate. Sometimes a balloon was inflated as a base and tissue paper layers glued over the balloon to form the lantern. Once a wooden frame was built in the form of a star. Then layers of tissue paper were applied to form the walls. Leaves and glitter were included on that lantern. That one hangs in our living room to this day, a beautiful reminder of a school festival and a saint’s feast day.

(In some schools, glass jars are decorated for lanterns. They are also beautiful, but tripping in the dark can result in dangerously broken glass. Plastic peanut butter jars might be a reasonable solution to that problem!)

Once completed, the lanterns are hung by wire from a stick, a candle placed in the bottom, and children and parents sally forth in a procession around the school or neighborhood. In some countries, children visit neighbors and receive candy or other treats – much like Halloween in the US.

Martinmas Lantern Walk - From Today in Faerie School

Martinmas Lantern Walk – From Today in Faerie School

If you decide to celebrate Martinmas with a lantern walk, be very careful with lighted candles. There are now battery-operated “candles” that you might consider using, especially for very young children. We never had any serious accidents, but I’m sure Martin wouldn’t mind opting for safety on his feast.

After you go out for a little lantern walk, follow up with a warm dinner and/or dessert, lots of laughter and fellowship and a happy night’s sleep.

Happy Martinmas! Happy Veterans Day! And may the Lord help us all to find better ways to resolve our differences.

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Posted by on Oct 15, 2008

“Who was that saint who was a mercenary, Mom?”

Saint of the Day – St. Teresa of Avila – October 15

St. Teresa of Avila - by Peter Paul Rubens

St. Teresa of Avila - by Peter Paul Rubens

St. Teresa of Avila, also known as St. Teresa of Jesus, was a Carmelite nun, reformer of her order, mystic, and writer.  She is one of only three women who have been named “Doctor of the Church.” She had a lively intellect and loved people and parties. She wasn’t afraid to argue with the Lord or to oppose those of her time who believed her reforms unnecessary and even dangerous. She experienced many years of illness, including three of paralysis. She found prayer difficult for many years and even refused to try. It wasn’t until she was middle-aged that she began her great work of prayer, reform and teaching.

Many books and articles have been written about St. Teresa of Avila. I refer you to them and to her own writings for details about her life and contributions.

I also invited Mother Marija of Holy Annunciation Monastery in Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania to share a thought with us about St. Teresa. Her response:

The invitation: “What is one thing you would like people to know about St. Teresa of Avila?”  To be true to Teresa one must be faithful to Teresa’s own thought, at least as well as another can understand and convey it. Our Holy Mother St. Teresa, is a Doctor of the Church, so she needs no other “recommendation” in her teaching capacity. Her own mystical life is self-described in her writings: Life, The Way of Perfection (written for her daughters the Carmelite nuns), and the Interior Castle,  which book describes – even maps out – the journey of a soul through seven stages of the inner life to union with God. Again, Teresa had the Carmelite nuns in mind when writing this book, as the epilog expressly tells us. So what would I like people to know about Teresa? Simply that she is a true guide for a life of prayer – a “life”, meaning that prayer for Teresa is the WAY to God. Our Lord is, of course, the WAY and Teresa’s way of prayer is friendship with Jesus. The Way of Perfection, a life of Prayer and finding Jesus as the Way for each of us seems for Teresa  to be identical. After all, she is Teresa of Jesus.

Thank you, Mother, for your contribution. May God bless you and all who seek to serve Him through a life of prayer and friendship with Jesus.

The books of St. Teresa of Avila are still in print today. You can find them listed in our discovery engine at http://www.theologika.net/search. Just enter her name and you’ll get links to her works.

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