Today is the Feast of Teresa of Avila.
Teresa was a 16th century Carmelite nun. She wrote several texts on prayer and because of her unique and profound insights she is one of only a few people named as “Doctor” of the Church. This past summer I was lucky enough to take a class on Teresa and John of the Cross. What I learned was both earth shaking and simple.
Teresa teaches people how to pray. Her spirituality is deeply rooted in the Incarnation of Christ. In the book of her life she states:
I am not asking you now that you think about Him
or that you draw out a lot of concepts
or make long and subtle reflections with your intellect.
For who can keep you from turning the eyes of your soul toward this Lord,
even if you do so just for a moment if you can’t do more?
You can look at very ugly things;
won’t you be able to look at the most beautiful thing imaginable? (Way of Perfection, 26.3)
There it is in a nutshell, if you want to pray, look at Jesus.
Often times we use a lot of energy talking about, talking about, prayer. Teresa reminds us that if we wish to pray we just need to put ourselves in the presence of God.