Sunday, October 14, 2007

St. Teresa of Avila

Tomorrow (October 15) is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila. She is one of the most beloved saints in Spain, and one of my favorites. She was from a well of and prominent merchant family (several of her siblings married nobility). She found her vocation after a long search. Her theology was one of prayer and spirit, but she was not a stern Catholic. Rather, she opened herself to the joy of Catholicism. She was also a scholar who found herself enmeshed in the controversies of the day, especially with regards to the controversies between the several Carmelite branches.

Two stories though stand out in my mind. In the first, several of her fellow nuns and some of the novices were disheartened. So in order to raise their spirits, she took out some cymbals and had them dance. In the second, Saint Teresa was visiting a convent on official business when she was fed some delicious partridge. She enjoyed it so much, she asked the novice serving her to get her some more. Which she enjoyed with obvious pleasure. When the novice look a little disapproving, Saint Teresa said (in what I have always imagined was a little bit of sarcasm) "My child, there is a time for penance and a time for partridge."

To me that is one of the keys to Catholicism -- believe, but with joy.

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