Allow St. Teresa of Avila and St. Margaret Mary to Inspire you.
St. Teresa of Avila was the first female Doctor of the Church. We celebrate St. Teresa’s feast day on October 15th. St. Teresa was known for her reformation of the Carmelite order, the founding of new convents, and her writings on prayer. She died in 1582 at the age of 67.
On October 16th, the following day, we honor St. Margaret Mary, the Great Apostle of the Sacred Heart. Between 1673 and 1675 St. Margaret Mary received a number of visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her director, Fr. John Croiset, inspired by her visions and revelations, wrote a book on Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus during her lifetime and it was published a year after her death in 1691. This book had an immense circulation in Europe and was instrumental in making Devotion to the Sacred Heart well known to many Catholics.
These two women offer us a tremendous example of holiness and spiritual union with Our Lord. These women were very similar in that they were both religious sisters who, after having a spiritual awakening, were never the same. They have inspired many generations to dedicate their lives to the Lord. Their witness has taught me several key lessons.
First, I learned that these saints experienced significant moments of grace that impacted them.
St. Margaret shares in her letters how her First Communion made her care less about worldly matters and have a desire to be holy. Her most significant moments were the apparitions she received of Jesus as a young sister while at Paray-le-Monial in France.
St. Teresa – While looking at a wooden cross, St. Teresa had a profound experience of appreciating what Christ had to suffer for her and was overwhelmed by her lack of gratitude for His suffering. She turned to the Lord and asked Him to strengthen her desire to grow closer to Him.
St. Margaret Mary – The closer St. Margaret Mary grew to the heart of Jesus, the more she was willing to freely suffer to offer up her joys, pains, and sorrows to the Heart of Jesus. During one of her visions of our Lord, she saw Christ’s heart engulfed in flames and surrounded by thorns and heard his loving voice share these words, “Behold this Heart, which has loved so much but has received nothing but coldness, indifference, and ingratitude in return.”
Many of us can recall the moments we first experienced Christ in a real and transformative way. It might have been at our First Holy Communion, as St. Margaret Mary recounts in her letters, or going on a retreat and hearing presenter share the message of our faith in a new and real way. Just pause for a minute and think about the spiritually impactful moments in your own life. Grace-filled moments like these are deeply personal experiences that we should treasure and hold on to as a way to encourage us along the path of holiness.
We should share our own significant moments with our children and family members as a testimony to the power of the extraordinary graces from Our Lord.
The second lesson I learned is to allow the Lord to touch your heart!
A true deepening of faith begins in the heart when we come to realize the gift of our faith and start to comprehend what Our Lord sacrificed on our behalf. We have the free will to respond to the graces provided to us and to turn to the Lord in gratitude, and serve Him out of Love. When we go through this heartfelt change, we come to realize that it doesn’t matter what others think of us. What matters most is what Jesus thinks of us.
St. Teresa of Avila- “Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.”
(Santa Teresa de Jesús, Complete Works St. Teresa Of Avila, Volume III)
St. Margaret Mary- “May the sacred fire consume our hearts unhindered and make them throne worthy of holy love.”
(St. Margaret Mary, Letter 2)
The third lesson I learned is to develop a solid prayer life.
We must not get discouraged about where we want to be in the spiritual life but rather take it one day at a time. Don’t get discouraged and walk away from your prayer life. St. Teresa shares that for many years, before her deepening of faith, she would barely pray. This can easily become a temptation for all of us, but this temptation must be “cast away” as we are called to develop a deep and lasting prayer life with Christ.
For example, St. Teresa, though a consecrated nun, did not change her worldly ways overnight. Rather, over the course of four years, she experienced a deepening of her faith that resulted in a deep and lasting prayer life where she came to see Jesus as her beloved friend. For anyone interested in cultivating such a relationship I recommend any of her writings such as: The Book of Her Life, The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, and The Foundations. These remarkable works are spiritual classics that will considerable benefit.
-St. Teresa of Avila- “Souls without prayer are like people whose bodies or limbs are paralyzed: they possess feet and hands but they cannot control them.”
(Teresa of Ávila, Interior Castle)
-St. Margaret Mary- “Let us pray in the Heart and through the Heart of Jesus, which wishes henceforth to make Itself the Mediator between God and man.”
(St. Margaret Mary, Letter 89)
The fourth lesson I learned is to discover the peace that only the Lord can offer.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”- 1 John 14:27. This verse points to the beautiful gift God is offering if we place our trust in Him.
May we turn to Christ for His eternal peace in our life. This is what we long to give each and every person we come in contact with. May the peace of Christ fill our hearts, our homes, and beyond. These saints experienced heavenly peace despite their many trials and difficulties.
St. Teresa of Avila: “May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”
(From the Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila)
St. Margaret Mary: “The Spirit of God does all things in peace. Let us have recourse to God with love and confidence, and He will receive us into the arms of His mercy.”
(Letters of St. Margaret Mary)
The fifth lesson I learned is to love Jesus, for He is our greatest gift!
Let us learn to follow Christ like these two saints and recognize that He is the greatest gift. Our Lord is offering a deep, personal relationship that was won by His death on the Cross. Our love for Him will bring about salvation for our own soul and impact many other lives. These two humble saints, from hundreds of years ago, are a great example of how God can reach other people through us. May we strive to become saints, and may our names be called out among the faithful in years to come.
St. Margaret Mary: “But the Giver is more precious than all His Gifts
(St. Margaret Mary, Letter 13)
St Theresa of Avila: “Always think of yourself as everyone’s servant; look for Christ Our Lord in everyone and you will then have respect and reverence for them all.”
(St Theresa of Avila, Maxim 25)
May we be inspired to love the Lord with all our heart and become fully alive with an active faith!
Jesus, I Trust in You.
To learn more about the Sacred Heart of Jesus check out my latest book: Secrets of the Sacred Heart by Ave Maria Press
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