Teresa of Avila & Her Prayer of the Heart

Teresa of Avila
Teresa Sanchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born on this day, the 28th of March, 1515. We know her as Teresa of Avila.

She is one of only four women to be named a “Doctor” of the Roman Catholic Church, and to my mind one of the greatest of Catholic theologians. She is one of my favorite believers in the Christian religion. And a glorious example of its potential for leading people into lives of depth and authenticity.

Teresa and her special friend and sometime confessor St John of the Cross are the great masters of the Christian version of the Via Negativa, the “Negative Way.” the Negative theology is, to my mind and heart, the reach across time and space and culture that connects Christianity and Buddhism. Actually within the great silence it is the connection of all religion, or that part which is worth pursuing.

And an interesting person, as well. Among my favorite anecdotes about St Teresa is how once when she was visiting one of her monastic foundations, riding a cart in the mountains through a terrible rain storm. High on the side of a hill, the cart turned, and she tumbled dangerously down the side of the hill. Covered in mud and filth, she stood up to her full near five foot height, shook her fist into the rainy night, toward the divine itself, and declared at the top of her lungs, “God, if this is how you treat your friends, it’s small wonder you have so few of them!”

She sang to us:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

And, last, here Sister Donna D’Alla walks us through Teresa & the Prayer of the Heart.

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