15 October, Friday — Left with Nothing but Me

Oct 15 – Memorial for St. Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor

Also known as Teresa of Avila, Teresa of Jesus (1515–1582) was born to the Spanish nobility, the daughter of Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and Dona Beatriz. She grew up reading the lives of the saints, and playing at ‘hermit’ in the garden.

Crippled by disease in her youth, which led to her being well educated at home, she was cured after prayer to St. Joseph. Her mother died when she was 12, and Teresa prayed to Our Lady to be her replacement. Her father opposed her entry into religious life, so she left home without telling anyone, and entered a Carmelite house at 17. Seeing her conviction to her call, her father and family consented.

Soon after taking her vows, Teresa became gravely ill, and her condition was aggravated by the inadequate medical help she received; she never fully recovered her health. She began receiving visions, and was examined by Dominicans and Jesuits, including St. Francis Borgia, who pronounced her visions to be holy and true.

She considered her original house too lax in its rule, so she founded a reformed convent of St. John of Avila. She founded several houses, often against fierce opposition from local authorities. She was a mystical writer, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 27 September 1970 by Pope Paul VI. She is known for ‘holy wit’.

“God, deliver me from sullen saints.” – St. Teresa of Avila

– Patron Saint Index

Rm 4:1-8
Lk 12:1-7

If a man has work to show, his wages are not considered as favour but as his due.

There was a time when I thought that I could work my way to obtaining a favour from God. I would pray Novenas with the thought that if I completed the nine days of prayer, that would be enough in exchange for what I was asking for. I would stress over saying those prayers as perfectly as I could to obtain maximum results.

Looking at our society, I don’t think it’s surprising if many of us fall into this trap. Internationally, we strive for meritocracy. We give awards based on the level of impact of one’s work. We promote people who work hard and produce results. At homes where we form our values, some kids learn early on (even if it was not the intention of their parents) that to get affection, they must be the perfect child. As a result, we feel that we must earn God’s love.

Towards God, there is really nothing we can boast of. Everything in our being came from God. All the atoms that make up our body, all that our body needs to survive, and even our souls came from God. There is nothing that we own that is not on loan from God.

For years, I have been struggling with this thought. After all, I have a pretty decent achievement record. But God has been patiently teaching me that he has a bigger gift for me. It’s a gift bigger that I can even imagine, and it’s something that I won’t be able to work for.

I learned from St Therese of Lisieux that even if I was the tiniest, most unnoticeable flower, God will still be delighted in me because God loves me as me. And even if I didn’t have faith, God will still love me because I’m me. Even if God is hurt with my unfaithfulness, he will still choose to love me through the pain he is feeling.

The souls who end up in Hell are eternally separated from God. Most of the time, we focus on how those souls suffer because of their eternal separation from God. And God wants to unite us all to him, but these souls will be forever away from him. I haven’t checked the Catechism on this but I guess that even after the Second Coming of Christ — and we who are destined to be with God in heaven are already in heaven — God will still ache eternally for His children who were separated eternally from Him, because God will continue to love them. So while the souls who are in heaven will experience eternal joy, God will still experience an eternal sadness.

I pray that this thought that God loves me so much, even if I have nothing to offer God, and the thought that God loves me so much he is willing to allow the chance for him to be eternally sad should my soul end up in hell, will stir in my heart a greater love for him.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)

Prayer: Dearest Lord, please instil in my heart a great love for you. Help me approach you as a child who knows I have nothing to offer you but my choice to love you and have faith in you.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for your eternal and faithful love for me.  

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