St Teresa of Avila, a 16th Century Spanish mystic, was the founder of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites which is also known as Teresian Carmelites.
St Teresa’s vocation and mission were prayer in the church and with the church, which is a praying community moved by the Holy Spirit to adore the Father in and with Jesus, in spirit and in truth.
She considered the life of prayer to be the greatest manifestation of the theological life of the faithful who, believing in the love of God, practise detachment, to attain the fullness of that love.
She was proclaimed by Pope Paul VI on 27 September 1970 as the first woman Doctor of the Church and was known as a Teacher of Prayer.
Her major written works include The Life, The Way of Perfection, and The Interior Castle – in which she explains the practice of prayer.
In St Teresa’s teachings, prayer is a communion with God – Our Father, as Jesus – the son taught us. Prayer is about building a relationship with God who we know loves us.
How we pray, defines our relationship with God. St Teresa taught us to be aware of who we are addressing our prayer to when we pray, and to pray with an attitude of reverence and the right disposition of our heart.
St Teresa realised that not all souls travel by the same path to perfection, but that God leads souls by many different paths.
She realised that in order to teach the theology and practice of prayer, one has a basic pattern or structure to follow. In the context of prayer, the journey to spiritual perfection is a progressive passage from the lower to the highest stages of prayer, that is, from ascetical to mystical prayer; and this comes in tandem with essential spiritual growth and maturity.
The journey of spiritual perfection demands self and spiritual transformation and all who are called to this journey, desire to walk in the path of holiness, and sanctify their lives by living in faith, hope and love, in the spirit of the Beatitudes.
15 October is the Feast of St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582).
Carmel Missionaries of Prayer