ROMAN 1: 16-25

St. Teresa D' Avila

JUSTUS EX FIDE VIVIT.   The just lives from faith.   This brief citation that Saint Paul cites in today's first reading is taken from the prophet Habacuc.  In the life time of Saint Teresa of Avila whom we commemorate at this Eucharist, this text became one of the most broadly quoted statements of Habacuc's brief writings.  Teresa was destined to live in highly troubled times for the Catholic Church and the topic of the right interpretation of just what it means to live from faith was central.    Teresa was born at a date easy to remember, the year 1515.  Two years later the priest, Martin Luther, with vows in the Augustinian Order, posted in public a protest of Papal policy that was to have fateful consequences for secular history as well as for the Church.   During Teresa's lifetime the resulting separation of Luther and his followers from Rome was but the first of a series of divisions.

Teresa was not only a gifted mystic; as various contemporary witnesses and her letters reveal, she was a sprightly, free, witty, popular, and beautiful woman endowed with native intelligence.   She went through a lengthy period of worldliness.   When she came to read the Confessions of Saint Augustine in 1555, aged forty, she identified with his earlier sinful life and was moved by grace to begin a sincere spiritual conversion.   Teresa was to play a significant role in the life of a world troubled by Luther's break with Rome.  The reform of the Carmelite monasteries she founded represented part of the Catholic response that was initiated under the influence of the Council of Trent.  This Council, begun in 1545, completed, after thirteen years its long drawn out deliberations.  During the Council, in 1562 Teresa, managed to overcome various resistances and established the first discalced Carmelite foundation. Eventually, some 16 more were to follow, the last being made in 1682, the year of her death.  The communities that grew out of her witness and ministry gave spiritual inspiration as well as practical support to the Tridentine Church.

St. Teresa D' Avila Teresa's writings on prayer and on religious life that proved so widely influential were recognized as a major witness to the Church's teaching, accordingly, in 1970 Pope Paul VI proclaimed her, along with Saint Catherine of Sienna, the first women Doctors of the Church.   As we honor her memory at this Eucharist, let us ask her intercession for our Church today when we experience the tensions of a secularizing, oppressive society. May her prayer assist us to follow her courageous perseverance in witnessing to the requirements of the truth preserved in the Church.    And may this holy sacrament strengthen us, as it gave such courage to Teresa, in our fidelity to the Lord Jesus.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger