Sunday, October 14, 2012

Importance of Prayer

 "The soul is like a castle and the door to the castle is prayer."- St. Teresa of Jesus

"Behold, my God, my desires and the tears with which I beg this of you... have pity on so many souls that are being lost, and help your Church.  Don't allow any more harm to come to Christianity, lord.  Give light now to these darknesses."- Saint Teresa of Jesus
Saint Teresa of Jesus was primarily moved to form a new Community of Carmelites, the Discalced Carmelites, as a response to the damage created by the Reformation.  "At that time news reached me of the harm being done in France and of the havoc the Lutherans had caused and how much this miserable sect was growing.  The news distressed me greatly, and, as though I could do something or were something, I cried to the Lord and begged Him that I might remedy so much evil.  It seemed to me that I would have given a thousand lives to save one soul out of the many that were being lost there.... As a result, I resolved to do the little that was in my power, that is, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as i could and strive that these few persons who live here do the same." (Way of Perfection Chapter 1, no.2, page 41)

St. Teresa was a true daughter of her times, and a true daughter of the Church.  Her dying words, "I am a daughter of the Church," summarized her mission and characterized her zeal and determination.  Her thought was that even though she was limited in her ability to work within the Church because of her being a woman of her times, she saw the importance of union with God as the only thing necessary to effect a change.  She surrendered herself to the desire that God was kindling in her heart and resolved to use prayer as the weapon of choice to battle the works of evil.  She was a true daughter of Spain in her love of the Catholic Church and saw in the Church's ecclesiastical arm the powerful means of confronting the works of the devil.  Her reason for the Discalced Carmelite nuns' existence is to pray for priests and those who govern the Church. "we must ask God that in this little castle where there are already good Christians not one of us will go over to the enemy and that God will make the captains of this castle or city, who are the preachers and theologians, very advanced in the way of the Lord.  Since most of of them belong to religious orders, ask God that they advance very far in the perfection of religious life and their vocation, this is the most necessary.  For as I have said, it is the ecclesiastical, not the secular, arm that will save us.  Since in neither the ecclesiastical nor the secular arm can be of any help to our King, let us strive to be  the kind of persons whose prayers can be useful in helping those servants of God who through much toil have strengthened themselves with learning and a good life and have labored so as now to help the Lord." (WP, Chap.3 no.2, page 48, Kieran &Kavanaugh) 

The battle St. Teresa of Jesus fought in her times is the same battle we are confronted with today.  The Church is confronted by the same fight on moral truths and values.  Prayer has never gone out of style.  Even though times have changed, and we have a great number of choices as far as serving the Church, the value of being people of prayer is most basic.  Unfortunately, our modern world has fallen into the extreme temptation of thinking that "action" is the only way to solve evil.  The heresy of work.  You and I know of some people who believe that.  Fortunately for us, we have the testimony of St. Teresa, who believed that our actions should proceed from a life of authentic prayer.

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