My dear mother's name was Teresa, and celebrated her saint’s day October 15th under her Saint Teresa of Jesus. She felt towards her patroness a very special devotion, that wasn’t only fruit of her faith but also had a very important intellectual component, because my mother admired Teresa of Avila also as a woman do to her writings and her attitude towards life.
Not only she considered her poems and prayers as the most brilliant pages of our literature, but also, and above all, she understood that Teresa of Avila was a model and example of a liberated woman and of a character worthy of being followed by all women.
When my mother passed away in her night table she had the complete works...of Saint Teresa BAC edition. The book was completely underlined, filled with marginal notes and, among the pages, there were many articles of the press and magazines related, not only with Saint Teresa, but also with women that my mother admired, such as Madame Curie, Golda Meir or more recently Oriana Fallaci. With that book in my hands I understood perfectly that Saint Teresa was always a light bold in my mother’s life, not only in love and quest for God, but also as a point of reference in her life.
These intimate experiences helped me to understand better the true dimension of the book of Saint Teresa “Way of Perfection” that is, simply (and none the less), a perfect prayer manual but, as my mother would say, written not only for the cloistered nuns of the Saint’s time, but addressed possibly to all men and women of modern days.
It is not just a matter of knowing how to pray, but also to get acquainted with prayer and ever more in a world like ours, in which Catholics, within the walls of a convent or in everyday life, have lost the custom of small gestures: a sign of the cross when passing along a church, a visit to the most Sacred Sacrament, small prayers when working… and I am not talking about the rosary prayed in family or in community, simple attitudes that we consider proper of old times, in the desire of not recognizing that, or we either feel embarrassed of them for considering them naïve, or that they express that sad reality of modern times of not having time for God.
Saint Teresa shows us how to pray taking as a guideline the prayer of prayers, the same one taught by Jesus: the Our Father, the only gospel prayer, apparently brief and simple, but to which Teresa dedicates 22 chapters of her book, showing us the profound depths that the dialog with Jesus can reach and the wonderful way that we can express God’s love.
When I was a child and my mother showed me how to read and pray she always told me “vocalize well as Saint Teresa ordered her nuns”; thanks to that a person like me who, along life has to talk in pubic many times, may that be in big meetings or in conferences, can’t thank enough that, through Saint Teresa, had learned ever since a boy the principles of speaking in public, and to let oneself be understood with clearness, just as the Saint explained to her nuns when she was defining the requirements of mental prayer.
And I finish by giving thanks once again to my mother’s Teresian testimony that the faith is, besides many other considerations, the ground of living joyfully.
In her memory and also in my fathers, a man of strong and firm faith, may these words be addressed as a pondering of the “Way of Perfection”.
Joe Cocker, RIP
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