A Spanish Saint-St Teresa de Avila

October is a great month, children are settling down to their classes at school, parents are getting used to the daily routine and church is celebrating many of its famous saints. There is St. Francis of Assisi, October 4th, St. Ignatius of Loyola October 17th, St. Luke October 18th, St. Jude October 28th and even Blessed John Paul II October 22nd. This is all bringing to the ultimate saint celebration on November 1st—All Saints Day.

Saints have such a powerful way to catechize even in today’s world. The lives that these saints lived have in such self-sacrifice and many paying the ultimate price of giving up their lives for their faith in Jesus is very incredible. They really teach young and old alike that living the life of a saint is really a gift.

St. Teresa of Avila is one such saint that had a gift for living a life with Christ. Ever since she was a young child she would sit with her brother Rodrigo and they would talk about how marvelous it was to be a saint. She had such great admiration for the lives of the saints. This admiration was probably given to her by her parents and her catechists. From an early age St. Teresa knew that she wanted to be like the saints that she wanted to live a life really close to Jesus. She is often referred to as St. Teresa of Jesus.

St. Teresa grew up in Spain in the 1500’s. She entered the convent when her mother died. While she loved the religious life she found it to be too distracting from what she really wanted to do and that is meditate on the salvation of Jesus. As a child, she loved reading romance novels that included stories about the handsome price navigating the castle similar to the ones all over her country. This prince would navigate the castle until he found his princess. The actual finding the princess was the main thing but the journey there is what made it all possible.

When she wrote her book “The Interior Castle,” she probably had that imagery in her mind. For Teresa the interior castle was a journey one took and within the main big castle there were many smaller castles. Each castle brought us more beauty and brought us closer to being in the Kingdom of God. This journey was mystical and beautiful and spiritual.

In our lives, we have to set time aside to allow us to be on this journey. We have to take time to break from what we do dedicate a small portion of week our day in search for that inner castle. As catechist we not only owe that to ourselves but to our students and their parents. But at times, everything we do in life can derail us and we find it hard to find the time necessary to be on that journey. St. Teresa knew that many of life’s daily events disrupt us and she left us with this beautiful prayer to helps us remember what is important in life.

Nada te turbe
Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia

todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene,
nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.

Change of Seasons

September 22nd is the first day of Fall. The change of seasons often goes unnoticed in this day and age. But the changing of the season can be a good time for us to reflect on where we are in our lives and where we want to go spiritually. The image that comes to mind when thinking of the changing of the season from Summer to Fall is the packing away of our Summer stuff and taking out our Winter gear. For many of us it’s a time to revisit our closet and see what’s in there and do some sort of cleaning.
I live now in an area where the change of season is not as dramatic. The ritual of putting away Summer clothes or taking out Winter apparel does not apply here in the Bay Area as much. But I remember as a child growing up in Arizona where season change was very dramatic. We may not have had the harsh winters of the northeast but we had the Summers that resembled an inferno. In our part of Arizona we did have freezing Winters where the temperature often got to into the 20’s. So we did have winter clothes that definitely needed to be put away for the 100 plus temperatures of Summer. Of course the tank tops and shorts that were pretty mandatory for Summer had to be exchanged in the Fall for the coats, long pants, and sweaters. I always preferred the Winter to the Summer and even to this day I prefer it to be colder rather than hot. I run into people now days that say to me when they find out I am from Arizona—-oh it’s hot but it is a dry heat. As if the dry heat of Summer is a consolation when it is 110 degrees. My response in often, an oven is dry heat but I am not going to stick my head in there because it feels good!
The church also invites us to a change of season in our heart. While outside we are putting things away and taking out stuff that was stored, our hearts can also have a change. This change as the church teaches us is a conversion. Our hearts can be converted in many ways but specifically the church offers us the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation as a way to cleanse our hearts. This is not an easy Sacrament for many of us. We have to sit down with the actions or inactions that we have not done right. Just like the closet during the change of season we have to confront the clutter and the mess and look for ways to make it better. But we have all been through a moment of reconciliation where the priest counsels us and gives us that absolution and we feel freed, a sense of relief from what was holding us down. Similar to the first time you walk into your closet after you have cleaned and donated our old clothes; there is a sense of openness and organization that makes you feel good.
This change of season consider not only cleaning out your physical closet in your home or apartment but also looking into your heart and cleansing it of the sin that ties you down.

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