Did you know that St. Teresa of Avila stopped praying for 15 years?
And this happened right after a time of deep contemplation and prayer.
It is said that when St. Teresa had a serious illness, it was nothing short of a miracle that she managed to live. At that time also, she exhibited great faith and patience in bearing her sufferings, all through the grace of God.
After she recovered, however, that’s when the temptations began. Although blessed with visions, she believed those who remarked that they must be from the devil. She also felt she was not good enough, and thus, under the disguise of humility, she stopped mental prayers.
Avoiding mental prayers, however, had lamentable consequences
Because the more she stayed away from prayers, the more she indulged in worldly activities and the more sinful she felt. It was like a vicious cycle because the more sinful she believed herself to be, the more she stayed away from prayer!
“I began, then, to indulge in one pastime after another, in one vanity after another and in one occasion of sin after another. Into so many and such grave occasions of sin did I fall, and so far was my soul led astray by all these vanities, that I was ashamed to return to God and to approach Him in the intimate friendship which comes from prayer. This shame was increased by the fact that, as my sins grew in number, I began to lose the pleasure and joy which I had been deriving from virtuous things. I saw very clearly, my Lord, that this was failing me because I was failing Thee. The devil, beneath the guise of humility, now led me into the greatest of all possible errors. Seeing that I was so utterly lost, I began to be afraid to pray.” – St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa shares with us that the greatest mistake would be to avoid prayer
We may think that we are giving due reverence and respect to God by not approaching Him, but we are depriving ourselves of the chance to be cleansed and healed from our sins. We do not grow holy by avoiding God. We only grow holy by His grace, and how do we find grace if we do not draw close to God?
I feel that a similar thing has happened to me. Even if I had always been busy writing religious articles, recording Christian hymns and sharing my Catholic books, I often did not have time for a more intimate conversation with Jesus.
Deep within me, I feel ashamed. But the more I neglected prayer time, the more I gave in to various temptations and the less inspired I was with spiritual things. My soul was hungry deep within, and I was avoiding the spiritual food that could nourish my soul.
Now I would like to approach Him more, confessing my sins and shortcomings, and asking Him to give me the grace to change. I know I’m not holy enough to stand in in His Presence, but I would like to trust His infinite mercy.
Have you also felt lacking in your intimate time with Jesus?
St. Teresa has these inspiring words for us:
“So let him not be tempted by the devil, as I was, to give it up for reasons of humility, but let him believe that the words cannot fail of Him Who says that, if we truly repent and determine not to offend Him, He will resume His former friendship with us and grant us the favours which He granted aforetime, and sometimes many more… And anyone who has not begun to pray, I beg, for love of the Lord, not to miss so great a blessing. There is no place here for fear, but only desire. For, even if a person fails to make progress, or to strive after perfection, so that he may merit the consolations and favours given to the perfect by God, yet he will gradually gain a knowledge of the road to Heaven.”
You may also want to read “Can You Imagine the Ecstasy of the Holy Saints?”
Jocelyn Soriano is the author of the book Defending My Catholic Faith.
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NABRE)