In every depiction of St. Teresa of Avila, the Holy Spirit is above her, inspiring her to write her magnificent theology of the spiritual life. She holds the pen that will give expression to the inner inspiration of the Spirit of God. She stands on the corner of Armitage and Seminary, with open book and pen in hand, welcoming those who pass by to open the book of their hearts to God in prayer.
Prayer is our relationship with God, Who wants nothing more than to have our lives be a completely open book to His Presence. God knows us more than we know ourselves and we never have to fear revealing to Him even the thoughts that trouble us the most. As Teresa teaches, the humanity of Christ is the gateway into God’s very life. And the humanity of Christ teaches us to be completely transparent to God, talking to God like a friend we trust to tell ALL our deepest secrets. Teresa was a close and deep friend of Christ, Who taught her the foundation of prayer and the spiritual life is friendship with God. How beautiful!!!!
I spend much time walking alone, praying, trying to give expression to my love of Christ. Sometimes, inner thoughts and difficult memories trouble me, even embarrass me. I want to hide them from Jesus, fearing what he might think. How ridiculous to even think this, since I know that God knows everything and that I can’t hide anything from Him. My intellect knows the Truth, but my heart wanders in other directions, away from the Spirit. Jesus teaches in today’s gospel to trust in the Spirit. He goes so far as to say that the one sin that can’t be forgiven is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, which means to completely doubt the power of Spirit to transform our hearts. To refuse to let the Spirit breath in our hearts, in our parishes and in our Church is truly grievous in the teaching of Christ.
Teresa was a woman led by the Spirit and transformed by the Spirit. She fought many demons, her own and those who tried to prevent her theology from finding expression. Teresa was much too smart for her “inquisitors,” who never tired of hounding her, trying to keep her quiet, even accusing her of heresy!! Yes, this devout, daughter of the Church, loyal to the Pope and Church, was deemed dangerous! The only thing dangerous was these religious leaders trying to shut down the workings of the Holy Spirit.
Teresa had the last word: the tremendous body of her spiritual teaching, making her the very first Woman Doctor of the Catholic Church, declared so by Pope Paul the VI in 1970!! This is the inscription on the pedestal on which the statue of Teresa rests. What a beautiful tribute to this woman of the Spirit.
Buen Camino. Fr. Frank