By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Catholic Personality: Teresa of Jesus

I quote from the Penguin Classics introduction by J.M. Cohen:

Teresa was no cold intellectual, but quickly became involved in the life and problems of anyone with whom she came into touch. We see her compelling a priest who was living in sin to throw away the amulet with which his mistress had 'enchanted' him, and to set about mending his ways. We learn, too, later in the book, of the alarm with which various other priests viewed her when they began to hear her confessions. They were very much afraid that she might become attached to them in the worldly sense: a suspicion which she found quite absurd. Yet many passages in her works and letters testify to the warmth of her affections, and right at the end of her life she was not ashamed to confess her deep disappointment when an old friend failed to accompany her on a journey. 'I must confess to you, Father,' she wrote to him, 'that the flesh is weak, and it has felt this more than I should have wished--in fact a great deal.'

Introduction to The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself, pp. 12-13.

We see the same passionate warmth of personality in Paul of Tarsus:

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 (ESV) 11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

Of course, it all goes back to the Psalmist (by the way, Teresa was also of Jewish background):

Psalm 119:32 (KJV) 32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

Such warmth is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is present in the lives of many other saints, known and unknown. We must ask ourselves if our piety is not missing something crucial that was manifestly and noticeably present in them.