Twelve Morsels From Saint Teresa of Avila

When she felt that she was going to go into an ecstasy and levitate she summoned the nuns to hold her down and sit on her so this would not happen publicly.

“For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.”

“Prayer is an act of love, words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”

Of her attachment to friends in the convent, Jesus said to her: “No longer do I want you to converse with human beings but with angels.”

One of her confessors was convinced her visions were from the devil. He actually commanded her to give the apparition an obscene gesture the next time it appeared to her. In a quandry what to do, as she knew it was Jesus appearing to her, she obeyed her confessor and Jesus immediately told her that she did right to obey.

Concerning the devil she said:  “I am more afraid of those who are terrified of the devil than I am of the devil himself.”

She once complained to her Beloved Savior that she resented the unkindness she received from those who were jealous of her, did not believe her, judged her as proud and singular, and otherwise spread gossip against her. And Jesus said:  “Teresa, that’s how I treat my friends.” Teresa responded, “No wonder you have so few friends.”

When one of the nuns expressed surprise that the saint, who was her superior, ordered the kitchen to prepare a delicacy for a certain feast day, she said to the “surprised” nun: “There’s a time for partridge and a time for penance.”

And, again, “May God protect me from gloomy saints.” Priceless.

Not only did she suffer from the gossip of the lax nuns who opposed her reform, but even a Papal Nuncio in Spain called her “a restless disobedient gadabout who has gone about teaching as though she were a professor.”

And, worse, one of the leaders of the Carmelite Order excommunicated all of the nuns at a reform convent because they voted to have her for their prioress. Some Vicar General even had the police guard the door of the convent so that Teresa would not get in.

Last on my list, and my favorite, is what she said when she arrived late to help a certain pregnant woman who asked her to come and pray with her when she was ready to deliver her baby. Seeing that the baby was already born and doing fine Teresa said, “The saint won’t be needed after all.” Can you picture her expression as she said this? I can. This reminds me of Saint Bernadette who once complained to her fellow sisters of the Sisters of Charity that with all the curious people coming to their convent to see her the next thing that would happen is that her face will be on holy cards. Ah, the prophecy!