Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It Is Love Alone That Gives Worth

Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1647-1652) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

It's been a long time since I posted about religion or spirituality, but Saint Teresa of Avila is one of my favorites. I was going to write about her back in October, on her Feast Day, but the circumstances regarding the dating of her death are so absurd that I feel inappropriate honoring her on that day.

St. Teresa passed away either just before midnight October 4, 1582, or, moments later, after midnight on October 15. How the heck can eleven days be "moments later"?! Well, because of the concurrent implementation of the Gregorian calendar, replacing the outdated Julian calendar, there was no October 5 through 14 in 1582.

In any case, St. Teresa of Avila writes with a simple authenticity, avoiding wild cosmological expressions or fanciful apocalyptic visions. Her mysticism is experienced and conveyed with humility and compassion. Although visionary, Teresa never obfuscates or ornaments her insights, attempting to sound profound. I don't know if I believe in that which she experienced, but I certainly do believe that she had a "mystical" understanding and is attempting to share it with her readers, in a spirit of generosity and tenderness.

Teresa of Avila (1827) by Francois Gerard

Moreover, I find her insights beautiful and inspiring. Her world is one where Love is the divine spirit, which dwells within our souls. For humanity, salvation is to be found by accepting this Divine Love and allowing it to be your eternal guide.

So, in celebration of this great Christian mystic, born on March 28, 1515, let's consider her blessed teachings.


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