Vatican City (AsiaNews) - To be "witnesses of God" in our society, "often lacking in spiritual values" and dedicate "time to prayer every day " on the "path to God, to seek his friendship," which is not "a waste of time, rather a time that opens us up to the path of true life, to love of God and the Church to "a real love for our brethren". This is the teaching that the life and work of St. Teresa of Avila, the first of the "Doctor of the Church" to whom Benedict XVI announced he will dedicate a “short cycle” of his lessons in the upcoming general audience .
Teresa of Avila, in the words of the Pope, is "one of the greatest exponents of Christian spirituality of all time", a " true teacher of life for the Christian faithful of every era " and "in our current society often lacking in spiritual values, she teaches us to really feel this thirst for God that exists in our hearts
Her spirituality is "profound and articulated", which "first proposes the Gospel virtues as the basis of all Christian life and human existence in particular, the detachment from earthly goods and evangelical poverty"; "love for one the other as an essential element of community and social life , humility as love of truth, determination as the fruit of Christian audacity, theological hope, which she describes as the thirst for living water. Neither does she forget human virtues: affability, truthfulness, modesty, kindness, happiness and culture. Secondly, Saint Teresa proposes a profound harmony between the great biblical figures and listening to living the Word of God. "
Teresa, the Pope recalled, was born in Spain, in Ávila in 1515 to, as she herself writes in her autobiography, " virtuous, God-fearing parents". She had nine brothers and three sisters. At less than 9 years of age, her reading of the lives of the martyrs involved her to such a degree that she runs away from home to die a martyr and go to heaven: "I want to see God," she tells her parents. Some years later she reveals that she found two truths in her childhood reading: "everything that belongs to the world passes from here and only God is forever, forever, forever."
Her familiarity with of spiritual books, especially of Franciscan spirituality, "teach her meditation and prayer." At age 20, she entered the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation in Avila. Three years later, she became seriously ill, so as to remain in a coma for four days. "Even in the fight against her illness the Saint sees the battle against weaknesses and resistance to the call of God." In 1543, "she loses the closeness of her family”: her father dies and all her brothers emigrate to America one by one. In the Lent of 1554, at 39 years, Teresa reaches the culmination of her struggle against their own weaknesses. The accidental discovery of the statue of " a very wounded Christ," a leaves a strong impression on her life.
"Parallel to her interior maturation, Teresa begins to concretely develop the idea of reforming the Carmelite Order: with her bishops’ support she founded the first reformed Carmelite convent in 1562 in Avila. On receiving the approval of the superior general, she would go on to found a total of 17. Her meeting with St. John of the Cross is of fundamental importance, with whom, in 1568, at Duruelo, near Avila, she founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelites. In 1580 she obtained from Rome the erection in autonomous province for her reformed Carmelites, the starting point of the religious order of Discalced Carmelites. Teresa ended her earthly life is while engaged in its foundation. In 1582, in fact, after founding the Carmelite convent in Burgos and while making her return trip to Avila, she died the night of October 15 in Alba de Tormes, humbly repeating two phrases: "In the end, I die as a daughter of the Church" and "My spouse, now is the time that we shall see each other!". "A life consumed within Spain, but spent for the whole Church." She was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1614 and canonized by Gregory XV in 1622, she was proclaimed "Doctor of the Church" by Pope Paul VI in 1970. "Teresa of Jesus had no academic training, but has always valued the teachings of theologians, scholars and spiritual teachers. As a writer, she always stuck to what she had personally experienced or had seen in the experience of others, in short based on experience. "
Among her major works the first to be mentioned is her autobiography, titled Book of Life, which she calls the Book of God's mercy. Composed in the Caramel in Avila in 1565, "the work often shows her dialogue of prayer with the Lord. It is a fascinating read, because the Saint not only tells, but shows how she revived the experience of her deep relationship with God. " In 1566, Teresa wrote the Way of Perfection, which she called the Admonishments and advice by Teresa of Jesus to the her nuns. She offers them “an intensive program of contemplative life to serve the Church, at founded on the virtues of the Gospel and prayer. Among the most valuable passages , her commentary on the Our Father, a model of prayer”. The mystic’s most famous writing is the Interior Castle, written in 1577, at her full maturity. It is a reinterpretation of her own journey of spiritual life and at the same time, a codification of the possible conduct of the Christian life to its fullness, holiness, under the action of the Holy Spirit".