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
A spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed.
Some years ago, my family went through a tough period. A time where we learnt to let go of our own
selfish intentions – though filled with loving intent. Coming to terms with the impending departure of a loved one is never easy. Especially so when we are close to, and love the person so dearly. The pain is immense and we wonder how we will ever get through it.
Today’s reflection is dedicated to my loving cousin. She was such a woman of faith and trust in our Lord. She was diagnosed with Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumours or GISTs some twelve years ago. This type of tumour is uncommon and there is no effective known treatment for this. As traditional chemotherapy has not worked well against GISTs, no standard chemo regimens were recommended. Back then, my cousin was given 12 -18 months before the inevitable. The advice was to go on a clinical trial. But that’s all it was – a trial. She participated in the clinical trial but never completed it. The drugs affected her health and heart, so she stopped taking them. Yet she was the only one who survived. The others on the clinical trial eventually passed on. Each time she heard about the passing of someone on the trial, her heart sank. Nonetheless, our Lord cannot be outdone in His generosity. He blessed her in ways beyond our comprehension and expectations. In the six glorious years that passed after her dismal diagnosis, she travelled, ate well, spent precious time with loved ones and, above all, continued to serve the Lord in whatever way she could.
Then, the cancer came back and spread fast and furious. Within two months, the excruciating pain engulfed her entire body and she was unable to eat. However, she remained strong in spirit, was alert even when the pain was controlled and continued to trust and praise God. She was fully aware of what was happening to her body, yet she was not afraid. A priest who went to see her asked that in her agony and pain, she lift up her prayers for all priests, especially for him! He needed her intercession. I learnt that day that the prayers of those suffering are very powerful. She good-naturedly agreed and kept praying for the priests and those who asked her to pray for them. How selfless and trusting she was of Our Lord! She always knew that whatever time given was by God’s grace and she was going to spend each moment to the very fullest. At the same time, she was at peace with God and prepared for the day when the Lord eventually called her home. That day eventually arrived in Nov 2016.
For the rest of us, the mere thought of death frightens us. Hence we never ever give it a thought. Even those of us suffering terminal illnesses, choose not to address it – the eventuality. Those of us grieving over the loss of loved ones, or people like me, who refuse to come to terms with the eventual departure of a loved one. We are so blinded and engulfed by our own selfish sadness that we fail to see God’s hand in this. We hold onto to our sick loved one, even when the person is at peace and ready. But God has given us a spirit of wisdom, to seek God, to trust and give us hope. To see beyond our current circumstance. To see what God wants of us, to see what hope his calls holds for you, what rich glories he has promised.
So brothers and sisters, today we pray that we might have eyes to see prophetically. To see as God sees. To have the courage to ask God what He wants to show us during this time of crisis, to open our eyes to understand the purposes of our calling. Just before she passed on, my cousin sent me a message to say that she missed me and wanted to see me for a quiet and personal chat. That very personal message led me to believe that through all of her suffering, there was also a role for me in all of it. I just had to let the Lord reveal me what my purpose was.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Lord, may we be filled with the spirit of wisdom to see what Jesus is seeing, doing, revealing and saying. Open our eyes to see as you see. Open our ears to hear what you are saying and give us the courage to say “Yes!” to what you are asking of us.
Thanksgiving: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of wisdom – for our living, for our service and for our worship.