Archive for the ‘St. Teresa of Avila’ Tag

Feast of St. John of the Cross (December 14)   2 comments

Above:  St. John of the Cross

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS (JUNE 24, 1542-DECEMBER 14, 1591)

Spanish Roman Catholic Mystic and Carmelite Friar

Born Juan de Yepes y Álvarez

Also known as John of Saint Matthias

St. John of the Cross was a mystic, a Carmelite friar, a controversial reformer. and, for eight months, a prisoner of some of his fellow friars.

Juan de Yepes y Álvarez, born in Fontineros, Spain, on June 24, 1542, grew up in a poor family.  His father, Gonzago (d. 1545), was an accountant for wealthy relatives.  Our saint’s mother, Catalina, came from an impoverished family.  One of our saint’s brothers, Luis, died of malnutrition related to poverty.  Another brother, Francisco, survived, though.  Our saint attended a school for poor children in Medina (now Medina-Sidonia) then studied at a Jesuit school (1559-1563).

St. John was a friar for most of his life.  He became a Carmelite friar, John of Saint Matthias, in 1563.  The following year, he made his first profession and began theological studies at the University of Salamanca.  Our saint joined the ranks of priests in 1567.

Monastic rigor appealed to St. John.  He pondered joining the Carthusians, a strict order.  St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) dissuaded him, though.  He became enamored of her reforms among Carmelite nuns.  With her support he introduced similar reforms into the lives of Carmelite friars.  St. John founded his first monastery in 1568, at Duruelo, and became St. John of the Cross.  These strict reforms caused controversy within the Carmelite friar order in 1575-1578.  Ecclesiastical and imperial protection of St. John expired in 1577, so our saint spent December 2, 1577-August 15, 1578 as a prisoner at the Carmelite monastery in Toledo.  After St. John escaped, he spent months recovering from the negative health effects of the poor conditions.  While in captivity, he wrote The Spiritual Canticle.

The Church recognized a new Carmelite order–a discaled one–in 1580.  St. John spent the rest of this life founding monasteries and building up the order.  Nevertheless, controversy followed him into the Discaled Carmelite order of friars.  He died in 1591, after losing his job as prior at Segovia.

St. John was a mystical poet.  His works included the Dark Night of the Soul, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, and Living Flame of Love.

The Church recognized St. John.  Pope Clement X beatified him in 1675.  Pope Benedict XIII canonized our saint in 1726.  Pope Pius XI declared St. John a Doctor of the Church in 1926.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Judge eternal, throned in splendor, you gave Juan de la Cruz

strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul:

Shed your light on all who love you, in unity with Jesus our Savior;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Song of Solomon 3:1-4

Psalm 121

Colossians 4:2-6

John 16:12-15, 25-28

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 117

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Spiritual Paths   3 comments

Above:  My Desk, December 19, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Christian spiritual directors have, for some time, understood the variety of spiritual types, related, quite often, to preferences in prayer styles.  The last time I read deeply in the field, I learned that the middle two characters of one’s Myers-Briggs personality type often correlate to a preference of a certain style of prayer.

Another way of classifying spiritual types comes from Roman Catholicism:

  1. The Path of Intellect (Thomistic Prayer), in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Teresa of Avila;
  2. The Path of Devotion (Augustinian Prayer), in the style of St. Augustine of Hippo;
  3. The Path of Service (Franciscan Prayer), in the style of St. Francis of Assisi; and
  4. The Path of Asceticism (Ignatian Prayer), in the style of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The test for determining one’s spiritual type takes only a few minutes.  A one-page document with fourteen rows and four columns requires one to look at a row of four words and rank them (“1” to “4,” “1” meaning least descriptive and “4” meaning most descriptive of oneself at the time).  Then one tallies each column.

My spiritual type has changed.  In the middle 1990s, when I was in my twenties, I was, first and foremost, a Thomist.  I have forgotten what the second, third, and fourth rankings were, but I was definitely on the Path of Intellect.  This morning I took the test again.  My scores were as follows:

  1. The Path of Asceticism–48;
  2. The Path of Intellect–43;
  3. The Path of Devotion–30; and
  4. The Path of Service–19.

Asceticism, according to this definition,

involves imagining oneself as part of a scene in order to draw some practical fruit from it for today.

It also entails a certain rigor in spiritual discipline.

The Thomistic preference for spiritual order applies to me.

Spiritual growth over a lifetime entails both change and constancy.  I, as a Christian, embrace that principle as I affirm another one:  one’s spiritual path must flow through Jesus.  Furthermore, to assume that one’s spiritual path in Christ is the only proper path for all people is in error.  In fact, one’s spiritual path in Christ in the present may not be one’s spiritual path in Christ five years from now.  In my case, the new preference for asceticism is consistent with my embrace of minimalism.

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF RAOUL WALLENBERG, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF CHICO MENDES, “GANDHI OF THE AMAZON”

THE FEAST OF ROBERT CAMPBELL, SCOTTISH EPISCOPALIAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ADVOCATE AND HYMN WRITER

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Feast of St. Teresa of Avila (October 15)   8 comments

Above:  St. Teresa of Avila, by Peter Paul Rubens

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT TERESA OF AVILA (MARCH 28, 1515-OCTOBER 4, 1582)

Spanish Roman Catholic Nun, Mystic, and Reformer

Born Teresa de Cepeda

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Let nothing disturb you, nothing dismay you.  All things are passing, God never changes.  Patient endurance attains all things….God alone suffices.

–St. Teresa of Avila, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 448

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St. Teresa of Avila had many reasons to become dismayed, had she decided to permit them to dismay and disturb her.

Teresa de Cepeda, born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, came from a wealthy, well-educated family.  Her father was a merchant.  Her mother died when our saint was 14 years old.  St. Teresa became a Carmelite novice at the age of 21 years.  Her father objected, but she persisted.

Carmelite spiritual practice in that convent was quite lax; it was more like a boarding house than a nunnery.  Our saint, in her early twenties, was an invalid for several years.  During that time she read deeply in spiritual classics and became enamored of mental prayer, which she described as

friendly conversation with Him who we know loves us.

However, St. Teresa, having recovered her health, spent the next fifteen years neglecting her spiritual life.

St. Teresa, having renewed her spiritual life in 1555, had St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572) as a spiritual director.  In 1562, with the support of her bishop and the Pope, opened St. Joseph’s Abbey, the first of her new, rigorous convents.  More followed, starting in 1567; she founded 17 convents in all.  A friend, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), whom she met in 1567, founded rigorous Carmelite monasteries.

St. Teresa had to contend with opposition from ecclesiastical officialdom–bishops and the Spanish Inquisition–as well as from within her order.  Inquisitors were suspicious of her reported visions; mysticism alarmed the theological enforcers.  More opposition came from within our saint’s Discaled Carmelite order.  For a number of years St. Teresa was in internal exile, forbidden to found new convents.  That internal exile ended, though.

For years St. Teresa traveled through Spain on official business.  During one such journey, from Avila to Burges, she suffered her fatal cerebral hemorrhage and heart attack.  She, aged 67 years, died at the Alba de Tormes Convent on October 4, 1582.

St. Teresa’s writings have continued to enrich seekers of God.  The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, the Life, Spiritual Relations, Exclamations of the Soul to God, and Conceptions on the Love of God have joined the ranks of spiritual classics.

The Church has honored St. Teresa.  Pope Gregory XV canonized her in 1622.  Pope Paul VI declared our saint the first female Doctor of the Church in 1970.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST DAY OF ADVENT:  THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF CHANNING MOORE WILLIAMS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY BISHOP IN CHINA AND JAPAN

THE FEAST OF ALICE FREEMAN PALMER, U.S. EDUCATOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIOC, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT TUDWAL, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINT OSMUND OF SALISBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

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O God, by your Holy Spirit you moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection:

Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching,

and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness;

through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Song of Songs 4:12-16

Psalm 42:1-7

Romans 8:22-27

Matthew 5:13-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 639

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This is post #1650 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg and Saint Hildegard of Bingen (September 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Hildegard of Bingen

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JUTTA OF DISIBODENBERG (CIRCA 1084-DECEMBER 22, 1136)

Roman Catholic Abbess

Her feast transferred from December 22

mentor of

SAINT HILDEGARD OF BINGEN (1098-SEPTEMBER 17, 1179)

Roman Catholic Abbess, Mystic, Theologian, Poet, Playwright, and Composer

One of my goals in renovating this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, as I keep repeating, is to emphasize relationships and influences.  Therefore, I merge the feasts of St. Hildegard of Bingen (September 17) and her mentor, Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg (December 22).

Blessed Jutta, born circa 1084 in Spanheim, was a German noblewoman.  Her brother was Meganhard, the Count of Spanheim.  She became a hermitess on November 1, 1106.  Blessed Jutta lived near the Abbey of Saint Disibod, Disibodenberg.  She taught children and became the center of a female community before beginning to serve as the first abbess of the new convent at Disibodenberg in 1116.  One member of that community then convent was St. Hildegard, born in Böckelheim, near Spanheim, in 1098, and also of German nobility.  She, raised and educated at Disibodenberg, succeeded Blessed Jutta as abbess in 1136.  St. Hildegard held that post until 1147.  That year she and eighteen nuns founded a new, independent convent near Bingen.  She served as the abbess there for the rest of her life.

St. Hildegard was a mystic; she had been one since childhood.  From 1141 to 1150 she published accounts of 26 of her visions in Scivas (Know the Ways).  Our saint’s visions were consistent with theological orthodoxy, according to the Archbishop of Mainz, a group of theologians, and Pope Eugenius III.  After 1150 St. Hildegard continued to report and write about her visions.

St. Hildegard was a remarkable person, especially by the standards of her time and place.  In 1152-1162 she made preaching tours in the Rhineland.  She corresponded with monarchs and popes, wrote at least one drama, composed religious texts and music, and wrote treatises on science and medicine.  She was, by the standards of her time and place, unusually scientifically astute.  St. Hildegard, as a theologian, belonged to the school of Creation Spirituality.  The Church has recognized her as a Doctor of the Church, a title it bestows on few saints.  The only other women so honored were St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), and St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897).

Despite St. Hildegard’s respected status in the Church during her lifetime, she ran afoul of ecclesiastical authorities toward the end of her life.  She permitted the burial of an excommunicated man in the convent’s cemetery.  Then our saint disobeyed an order to disinter the corpse; the deceased had reconciled with God before he died, she said in her defense.  St. Hildegard’s defiance led to the Archbishop of Mainz placing the convent under an interdict, a penalty she protested.  Eventually the archbishop lifted the interdict.

St. Hildegard died a few months later, on September 17, 1179.

Pope John XXII beatified St. Hildegard in 1326.  She was informally “St. Hildegard” for centuries until Pope Benedict XVI made it official in 2012.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 15:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIXTUS III, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF BLAISE PASCAL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCIENTIST, MATHEMATICIAN, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MAGNUS AND AGRICOLA OF AVIGNON, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF AVIGNON

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HAMMOND, ENGLISH MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

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God of all times and seasons:

Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, a student of Jutta,

may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation,

and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 43:1-2, 6-7, 9-12, 27-28

Psalm 104:25-34

Colossians 3:14-17

John 3:16-21

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 589

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