St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church

Facts about Teresa of Avila

  • born in Avila, Spain on March 28, 1515
  • entered the Carmelites on 1535
  • began reforming the order and founded her first convent, St. Joesph, in 1562
  • in 1575 she was told to stop and made to retire to Costile due to a dispute between the two different Carmelite groups
  • in 1579 King Philip II of Spain found a solution to the dispute, Pope Gregory XIII confirmed it in 1580
  • for two years Teresa traveled and continued working on reforming the Carmelites
  • she died in 1582
  • she was canonized in 1622
  • made a Doctor of the Chruch in 1970by Pope Paul VI
  • she is the patron saint of headaches
  • her feast day is Oct 15

What was she reforming?

Teresa wanted her order, the Carmelites, to go back to convents existing on public offerings and poverty rather than relying on personal endowments of the wealthy. This caused a conflict between the two Carmelite groups, the Primitive and Mitigated. The Primitive was what Teresa was espousing. However, in the conflict, she was told to retire and stop working. Eventually, she was able to return to her life’s work with help from the King and Pope Gregory XIII.

Her prayer that will serve us well at this time

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Avila

 

When you feel troubled, pray the prayer above and remember that you have God.

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What is a Doctor of the Church

Have you ever wondered, what is a Doctor of the Church? Well, wonder no more. I’ll explain, in broad strokes what that means.

How does one become a Doctor of the Church?

First, you must be a saint. A saint is someone who has great holiness. A Doctor of the Church has holiness that is outstanding. During their lifetimes, they truly exemplified what it means to follow Christ. They also left behind a body of work for us today. Writing, letters, books, sermons, which had great depth on a particular doctrine or teaching of the Chruch. This helps us, even today, grow in our own understanding. Their work has withstood the test of time.

How many Doctors are there?

 

36; 32 men and 4 women. The Church has been selecting DOctors from saints since 1298. The latest, St. Gregory of Narek, was made a Doctor in 2015 by Pope Francis.

The four women Doctors are Catherine of Siena, Theresa of Avila, Terese of Lisieux, and Hildgard of Bingen.

While all the saints are notable, a few are more well known than others: St. Anthony of Padua, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas.

For a complete list, look here.

 

I mentioned in my podcast that I am starting a study group on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. I’d love to see you there and signing up is as easy as entering an email. 

Our NotLukewarm Challenge this week is to write in honor of all the great writing left to us from the Doctors. Read a bit of scripture or just sit and pray by writing your prayers. Take 5 or 10 minutes. That’s all!

 

 

St. Catherine of Siena

I think of saints as my friends. Let me introduce you to my friends, Catherine of Siena. Born in Siena, Italy in 1347 she was one of 25 children, though only 13 lived. In fact, she was a twin but her sister died as an infant. As a child, Catherine was considered a sweet and lovable girl who enjoyed being with others and doing good things. When she was 6 years old she had a vision of Jesus blessing her from heaven.  After that, she became more patient and devoted to praying. She realized she wanted to devote her life to God and not marry. This created tension in the family and CathWoman Doctor of the Churcherine’s mother punished her by having her act as the servant in the home, hoping this would get Catherine to change her mind. It didn’t. In fact, she used this time to go into her “inner cell of self-knowledge” and learn the virtue of humility.

Her writings

Catherine was not literate, which was common at that time. Instead, she has secretaries who wrote as she dictated. We have over 350 of her letters, prayers and her great work, The Dialogue, which is a record of her conversation with God during her mystical experiences.

Her life

Catherine died in Rome in 1380; was canonized in 1461 by Pope Pius II and made a Doctor of the Chruch by Pope Paul VI in 1970. She is one of 4 women saints to hold that honor.

She has much wisdom for us now though she lived over 650 years ago. One point she makes is one I ponder often: she says that knowledge of God leads to love of God, the more we know Him, the more we love Him, and that loving and serving God is what will lead us to loving and serving others. As God said to her, “I take delight in few words and many works.”

 

the not lukewarm challenge

 

This is a mighty quote on prayer from God to Catherine, “Prayer is a weapon with which you can defend yourself against every enemy. If you hold it with love’s hand and the arm of free choice, this weapon, with the light of holy faith, will be your defense.”  This week, when life overwhelms you or you are not sure what to do next, run to prayer. It will help you no matter what is happening.