Journey into the heart of God with Saint Teresa of Avila

In case you haven’t noticed from my blog title, I am passionate about the power of prayer. I’ve witnessed miracles and had mystical encounters that have motivated me to reorient my entire life towards God. For the last 15 years, every time I try to go further and faster toward an external calling, I wind up instead being drawn more deeply into a life of prayer and contemplation – I believe that prayer in and of itself is a big part of God’s plan for my life, along with standing up for the validity of prioritizing prayer in daily life.

As wonderful as it has been to develop a strong prayer life during my years as a stay at home mom, it has also been a struggle to accept the invisibility of this calling into a deeper life of spirituality, partially because I haven’t always had the language to talk about it or even an understanding of all the facets of it – I’ve been learning as I go. Plus, contemplative prayer is inherently a battle against self, which has challenged me to my core, alongside the struggles inherent in motherhood. Also, our society does not value the work of parenting or deeper spirituality whatsoever, which is probably why the invisibility has been a struggle.

It’s always a gift to find a nugget of wisdom from a faith hero, which affirms the validity of my path and helps me stay the course. One guiding light for me is Saint Teresa of Avila, who was made one of the first female doctors of the Catholic Church, due partially to her ability to articulate the invisible journey of prayer in her spiritual classic The Interior Castle.

When I’m tempted to doubt my calling to invest time to the invisible art of prayer her words comfort and guide me:

God alone is enough.
Let nothing upset you,
let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins
all it seeks.
Whoever has God
lacks nothing:
God alone is enough

Deep down I know she’s right: God Alone Is Enough. And the more time I spend refocusing myself on that truth in contemplation, the more He has become the natural desire of my heart. I want all of my actions flow from a deep sense of connection with Spirit, and I am committed on working toward that goal throughout my life.

Through my writing, I hope to encourage others to incorporate more prayer into their lives and provide a language for the blessings and burdens we are likely to encounter on the spiritual pathway, kind of like Saint Teresa did, only in a more modern (and in far less groundbreaking way).

Especially in our society, where we are encouraged to move quickly through our days, I think we all need reminders of how powerful prayer really is and the importance of taking time to cultivate a deeper life of faith.

Another poem I love by St. Teresa of Avila is:

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.”

I love how these words make my spirit soar, filling my heart and soul with joy and a sense of God’s presence within me. The spiritual journey isn’t always easy, but the mystics like St. Teresa remind us it’s the most breathtakingly beautiful journey we can undertake in life and point us towards new horizons of what is possible with faith.

I also adore this this poem by St. Teresa:

“Christ has no body now but yours.

No hands, no feet on earth but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.

Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

We are all called to share the joy we find in our relationship with God, especially with “the least among us.” I am grateful for the way Saint Teresa challenges us to live our faith in this poem. Even when it seems impossible to give more, she inspires me to pray for the ability to serve others far beyond what I would otherwise ever hope to.

Where are you at in your prayer life? Do you feel connected to God at this point of your faith journey? What kind of blessings and challenges have you faced in time spent contemplating God? How are you being called to put your faith into action?

God, give us the grace to trust You enough to answer Your calling into a deeper life of prayer. Fill us with a desire to know You better, and give us the strength to persevere into an ever-deeper relationship with you, so all of our actions can be aligned with Your will. In Jesus name we pray, Amen 

Written by Nicky Gant for www.uniteinprayer.org 1/29/2018 then edited / republished on 7/19/2019

 

 

 

3 Responses

  1. This was beautiful and perfectly worded. My relationship with God has had its ebbs and flows. I work toward prayer and meditation and strive to feel God’s presence with me every day. I know he’s always there, residing in my soul, but I struggle to feel the depth of that connection. I know it is caused in part by the barriers my mind creates but I am always living my life with knowing that God is there. I am him and he is me. I hear him in my intuition and inner voice and I strive to listen to that every day. Just like anything, the more you devote yourself to something, the more it will develop and expand over time.

    1. Great points. Thanks for reading and for the great thoughts! I agree that perseverance in prayer pays off! But it’s really hard through those “dark night” times when we can’t feel God’s presence. Good for you – it’s hard to tune into the “inner voice” with so many distractions these days. Bless you

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