St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), has fascinated me for years. I often feel unworthy in saying that I follow her apostolic, contemplative zeal and desire for God. And yet, her powerful witness has educated me through the years. She was a strong and important female woman of the Church. St. Teresa of Avila was named the first female Doctor of the Church.

Teresa’s own history reveals her experience and motivations in the monastic life when she speaks of a mediocre prayer life, lax discipline and a loss of zeal for redemptive penance caused by too much socialization with visitors. The Lord in His infinite Wisdom called Teresa to give Him her heart and a desire to live differently through an intense experience of prayer experience to renounce worldly attachments and enter deeper into a life of prayer. An experience, not a discourse, moved her to making this a way of life and a teaching. It is reported that she was being encouraged by a mystical vision of her place in hell if she was unfaithful to God’s graces. 

The mystical life of contemplation became a source of trouble for Teresa as many didn’t understand the new horizons she had embraced. What she wanted was to reform her own life for the sake of the Kingdom. How much can we learn from her on this score? Too often we give into sin and mediocrity, we give ourselves “a pass” to excuse us from the right path, and we settle for gravel instead of silver and gold.

Read her works the Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection. Pick up a good biography. Ask Saint Teresa of Avila for intercession before the Throne of Grace.