What the Theologians Say 6


Saint Teresa of Ávila (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. Columbus had recently opened up the Western Hemisphere for Europeans, while Luther had started the Protestant Reformation. This was to lead to the Counter-Reformation, of which teresa would be a part. When she was 16, her father decided to send her to a convent. At first she hated it but eventually began to enjoy it. However, when the time came for her to choose between marriage and religious life, she struggled with the decision. A difficult marriage had ruined her mother, but being a nun didn't seem like much fun. She eventually chose to be a nun as she felt it was the only safe place for someone as prone to sin as she was. At first she developed a reputation as an entertainer in the Order, but by the time she was 40 she felt the need to reform the Order and started a new convent in Avila, which was followed by 17 others.

She aligned herself against pleasure seeking and prompted those around her to adopt the disciplines of mental prayer and contemplation, but possessed a keen wit.

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and on 27 September 1970 was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Like many of these theologians, whose words at first might be considered dry and dusty, her utterings have a surprisingly modern ring. Here are a few of them:

'Prayer and comfortable living are incompatible.'

'It is foolish to think that we will enter heaven without entering into ourselves.'