Erin Foord, ocds: St. Teresa’s Bookmark- Novena Day 5

St. Teresa of Jesus Novena

O most loving Heavenly Father! We thank you for the great gift you gave us through your beloved St. Teresa of Avila, virgin and doctor of the Church. Her life was a great example of prayer, sacrifice and faith in You. We humbly pray for her most holy intercession… (Mention your intentions)

St. Teresa, we know that you are a powerful intercessor because of your close relationship to the Holy Mother and Jesus through prayer. Open wide the doors to the interior castle of our hearts and souls so that we may know how to pray! Pray for us, that we may have the gift of prayer. St. Teresa of Avila, you are an example of prayerful holiness that we will try to follow. You are in heaven praising God. With your seat of honor, please beg God to bring me to eternal rest with you.

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory be…

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us! Amen

Let nothing frighten you:

When people and situations frighten us, it indicates a deficiency and misdirection of our faith, hope and love. Rather than being committed entirely to God, they are invested in earthly things. When threatened we feel vulnerable and insecure and again there is a shift in our heart’s desire from Thy will be done to my will be done. As we examine what frightens us we recognize that the threat is based upon a perceived separation or loss from people or things that we inordinately made the objects of our faith, hope, and love, rather than God.

In this way, just as being disturbed over unfulfilled attachments, being aware of our fears can help identify to what degree we are children of God or children of the world. God is Spirit. His children are made in His image and will resemble His nature of Love. Do we recognize our self as Spirit and know, “it is not by bread alone that we live, but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD?” (Deut. 8:3) Or, do our fears betray hearts longing for what the world has to offer, “…sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life?” (1Jn.2:17)

Anybody can believe in God, even demons believe He exists. It is trusting in God that takes faith. Our faith is based on the understanding that the Creator of the universe, possesses a power beyond our imagining, as well as an intelligence that we cannot begin to comprehend or fathom, and a love that surpasses all knowledge (cf. Eph.3:17). When an attachment overpowers our virtues causing them to waver, we succumb to fear. In this way fear is very

much a temptation. It arises from doubts in our heart that oppose the corresponding virtues. We are tempted against faith that God exists, or against hope that He is powerful enough to grant our desires, or wise enough to know what is actually best for us, or tempted against charity that He loves us as His dear children.

God is all powerful, all knowing, and all good and loving. The Archangel Gabriel assures us in his words to Mary, “Nothing is impossible for God.” (cf. Lk.1:37) Our faith based on this understanding establishes trust and our trust gives way to surrender, “Thy will be done.” (Mt.6:10) It is essential that we recognize and have full confidence in God’s will as our greatest good. This is what Jesus taught and what we ask every time we pray the “Our Father”, “Thy will be done.” We must also realize the importance of the “present moment” as the expression of God’s will for us (permissive if not perfect). It is in this context that Saint Teresa proclaimed, “To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.” We should always interpret life according to our faith. When we suffer loss we should proclaim the words of our holy mother, “Our greatest gain is to lose the wealth that is of such brief duration and, by comparison with eternal things, of such little worth.” She is well acquainted with human nature and quickly adds the lament, “yet we get upset about it and our gain turns to loss.”

Over and over in the scripture God entreats us not to fear. The phrases “do not be afraid” and “do not fear” appear over 110 times. Much of what we fear are mere shadows, figments of our imagination that will never be realized. They are self-created speculations stemming from some form of non- acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what already “IS”. When we include our all powerful, all wise, and all loving God in our imagined future there should be no reason for fear. There are only situations that need to be dealt with or accepted. As the famous serenity prayer suggests, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

It is vital that we always embrace the present and future situation with absolute faith and hope in God’s love for us. We need to be vigilant that fear is a temptation against faith as Jesus’ explains, “…do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matt. 6:30) Jesus’ instruction extends even to legitimate needs for bodily sustenance and clothing. He continues, “…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. (Matt. 6:30-33) Do we believe this?

About the author: Erin Foord has been a Secular Discalced Carmelite for 40 years.  He served as President of the California-Arizona Provincial Council from 2014-2017. He gave this conference as part of the Ongoing Formation class for the Santa Clara , CA OCDS community.

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