Erin Foord, ocds: St. Teresa’s Bookmark – Novena Day 6

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

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prv.3:5)

This is one of Scripture’s most frequent imperatives.

This is the Good News! How many times and in how many different ways does it need to be expressed before we embrace it with our whole heart, trusting with complete confidence that, “…all things work for good for those who love God”. (Rom.8:28) When we believe it sincerely, there is nothing to fear.

Each of us face many scary situations in our life, but are any of them legitimate for worry? Saint Matthew describes the Apostles on the brink of death. They cry out in terror, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” (Matt. 8:25) Jesus had been asleep as the boat became overwhelmed by the wind and waves. He does not chide the Apostles for being silent and waiting so long to act, Rather, He admonishes their fear calling out their lack of virtue. “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26) I repeat the above scripture for emphasis, “Lean not on your own understanding!” For as God declared through the prophet, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Painting by Father Robert Elias Barcelos, OCD, 2014

With our faith, hope, and love securely grounded in Jesus Christ, “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn.14:6), we will never be threatened by loss, because we possess the true wealth. We will not be disturbed or fearful because nothing can separate us from what we truly treasure, God Himself. As our Saint Paul confirms, “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.” (Rom.8:35,37)

So “Let nothing frighten you”. Fear is a poison that stunts and cripples our spiritual growth. Saint Teresa is encouraging us to grow in the virtues of faith, hope, and love for God. Prayer is the antidote as our Provincial Statues recommend, “strive to make prayer penetrate our entire existence, in order to walk in the presence of the living God, through the constant exercise of faith, hope and love….” Most “problems” cannot survive in the reality of God. When one of life’s situations goes awry we have an opportunity to recognize God’s presence in the simple details of everyday life, for He is everywhere, manifest at every moment for those who desire him. He is ever whispering to our heart, “Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.” (Jos 1:9) Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed this reality in a most beautiful way in her poem Aurora Leigh.

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

― Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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 an Ongoing Formation class for the Santa Clara , CA OCDS community.

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