Posts Tagged ‘Teresa of Avila’

Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part II

Vladimir Borovikovsky: Job and his Friends

Vladimir Borovikovsky: Job and his Friends

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Satan believes that he can tempt Job into doubting God’s abiding friendship. Job’s friends make conditions worse. Today we read a speech from Bildad who believes that Job has brought ruin upon himself; but this friend is not privy to Satan’s challenge and dare as we are.  Bildad operates from his own experience and from the information he has at hand; he believes that Job has sinned and that he suffers as a result. There is no calculus in his mind for innocent suffering, and so here and in his second speech (Chapter 18) he encourages Job to confess and repent of his wrongdoing. This is something Job cannot do, of course, for he has not sinned. There is nothing to confess. He suffers innocently.

Teresa of Ávila is correct. Our intimate relationship with God is a challenging and arduous journey. Rather than being a state of mind or condition, it is a process in which our hubris, fear, suspicion and independence are winnowed away until we are left with humility, obedience, trust and love. When we meditate on the entire story of Job we are given the opportunity to examine our own journey with God and the quality of our faithfulness. Do we cling to God because of favors that might be granted us? Do we count God as a friend because we hope to receive certain blessings? Is this a relationship in which we do for God only because God is the best bet, carries the greatest weight, wields the greatest force and is the generally accepted deity? Or do we claim God as our own because God claims us? Do we humble ourselves before God because we understand that we are creatures created from God’s love? Do we hand ourselves over as objects of the dare – as Job does – because ultimately we trust God more than we trust ourselves?

If a friend approaches us in our misery and encourages us to fess up about something we have done when we have, in fact, done nothing to merit our pain: what is our response? Do we enter into the dare? Do we count on ourselves and our own resources? Or do we count on God?

Adapted from a favorite written on May 5, 2010.

Image from: https://catholicyearoffaith.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/faith-in-the-book-of-job-part-1/

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Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part I

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

In the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE Reading Guide on the book of Job, we find the following proposition: Satan and God have a conversation one day in which Satan insinuates that Job is righteous because of the rewards that he enjoys from God’s hands. He maintains that it is easy for Job to obey God when all is well and all things are right for him. Satan further believes that once these gifts and this favor disappear, Job will desert God, will show that he lacks integrity, and will even arrive at cursing God.  “In a very real sense, the drama of this book stems from Satan’s challenge found in 1,9: ‘Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?’ . . . The reader should note that God takes the dare”. (Senior RG 237)

As we follow Job’s trials, we later observe that “It is clear that Job had not been God fearing simply for the sake of blessing. His afflictions did not diminish his devotion. Even in adversity he maintained that all things are in God’s hands and God would render whatever God deemed fit . . . The content of Job’s laments and pleadings show that Job does not look for recompense; he wants vindication . . . It is apparent that the depth of Job’s piety is based on his relationship with God, not on some promise of reward. We must remember that at this time Israelites did not have a clear idea of reward or punishment in an afterlife, as Christian theology teaches. If justice was not meted out in this life, they had no hope at all of retribution. This makes Job’s disinterested piety even more admirable.  It also serves to challenge our own fidelity.  Job’s faithfulness can also be an encouragement to us . . . Job is not blindly docile in his suffering. Nor is he afraid to complain to God in his frustration . . . He does not really argue with God because he is suffering, but because he sees a conflict between his unwanted suffering and his faith in the justice of God . . . Devout people certainly have their differences with God. We are reminded of the great Teresa of Ávila, who in frustration complained to God, “No wonder you have so few friends”. (Senior RG 238)

Tomorrow, Job’s friends.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 237-238. Print. 

Adapted from a favorite written on May 5, 2010.  

Image from: http://www.examiner.com/article/a-theology-of-suffering-the-book-of-job-part-1-satan-s-power

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

stteresaofavila[1]Matthew 5:17-20

A Manual for Living

Matthew creates a bridge between Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and his many teachings which describe how we might understand, embrace and then enact this new Law of Love now that we have heard it. As people who have spent some time with both the Old and New Testaments, we will recognize these teachings and this new attitude before the Law as the fulfillment of the old law. We will see Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people – the promise he foretold through his prophets – that he will save, that we can do nothing on our own, and that there is only one force in the universe that makes the impossible possible, God’s Love . . . as shown to us in the person of Jesus.

This portion of Matthew’s Gospel serve as a manual for living. Jesus puts into plain words how his followers will deal with communal and conjugal relationship, with anger, hate and revenge. Jesus explains the importance of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. He tells us why we must refrain from judging, from cheapening ourselves, from believing false prophets. He reminds us of God’s providence.

When there is conflict and confusion, chapters 5 through 7 of Matthew bring tranquility and clarity. They lay out a clear path which leads to a narrow gate. We need fear no thing and no one when we apply this code to our lives for as we are reminded in Paul’s letter to the Romans (8), there is always life in the Spirit through Christ.

Teresa of Avila’s words are so true: Anyone who perseveres in seeking God’s friendship is amply rewarded . . . Place yourself in the presence of God, and do not exhaust yourself searching for reasons for understanding what lies beyond your reach. Do not lay blame on your soul, for the good of your soul consists not in thinking much, but in loving much. (Let Nothing Disturb You)

This, then, is the New Law as explained in this new Manual for Living: We are not called to exhaust ourselves with worry or with work; rather, we are to place ourselves within the bounds of this new Law of Love, for this alone saves.


Image from: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/stteresaofavila.htm

Adapted from a reflection written on June 24, 2009.

Enter the words Manual for Living into the blog search bar and continue to reflect.

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Friday, January 17, 2013

Deuteronomy 5: Speaking with God

We have heard his voice from the midst of the fire and we have found out today that a man can still live after God has spoken with him.

Reubens: Teresa of Ávila

Reubens: Teresa of Ávila

Moses acts as mediator for the Chosen People because they believe that anyone who sees the face of God and hears his voice must live no more. This thinking changes when Jesus acts and moves among his people to heal their wounds and cure their anxieties.  This thinking is altered with Jesus’ death and resurrection.  This new idea of a God among us transforms our human fear if we only allow it.  Christ becomes our new arbiter with God, interceding for us with our petitions before the Father.

Like the Hebrews, we also have the opportunity to hear the voice of God.  We might see his face in those who live as Christ asks; but perhaps like the Hebrews, we are a bit afraid to approach the Holy Presence to petition favor.  What we read today tells us that we need not dread God’s presence, and we need not hesitate to ask Jesus for his help . . . this is what he awaits – our realization that he loves us more than we can imagine.

Prayer is the best way to hear the voice of the Creator, Redeemer, and Consoler, and God has advice for us that is better than any offered by any human.   We may not have time for formal, liturgical prayer.  We may not feel comfortable in communal prayer.  We may find that individual prayer lacks direction and intensity.  However, whatever our condition or opinion regarding prayer, we must address all obstacles to it . . . for this is the only way to reach the serenity that God promises, the peace that Christ purchases, and the love that the Holy Spirit offers.

Today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation is taken from words of Teresa of Ávila regarding prayer.  The good that one who practices prayer possesses . . . is that in spite of any wrong they who practice prayer do, they must not abandon prayer since it is the means by which they remedy the situation; and to remedy it without prayer would be much more difficult.

This does not mean to say that those who pray each day have a magical entrée to God’s presence and favor; but what it does say to us is that people who pray daily have a place to take the stresses that come to bear on them as they maneuver their daily obstacle course . . . and that place is God.

We might wish that God would show us a physical smoking presence with a loud booming voice as the Lord does with the Hebrews in today’s reading . . . but would this be more helpful than that quiet voice which speaks to us from behind to which Isaiah refers in 30:21?

We might wish we had stone tablets on which are written God’s words clearly . . . but is this more loving than God’s writing on our hearts as Jeremiah predicts in 31:33?

Teresa of Ávila tells us that she trusts in God’s mercy and love; she perseveres in prayer through the dry times in order to maintain contact with this God of compassion and peace.  When we struggle with our own desire to know God intimately and to commune with him daily, we will know that we are not unique . . . for holy and saintly people have their doubts, their fears and their anxiety when they speak with God.  We can do no worse and no better than this then, to listen for the voice of God . . . a God who loves us in spite of any wrong we commit.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 28.5(2010): 385-386. Print.

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teresa_of_%C3%81vila

Written on May 28, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Luke 12:25: Our Span of Life

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Let go of control AND let God’s life flow. (Rohr 134)

A number of times, we have reflected at noon that when we make certain to devote a portion of each day to time with God, we find that we have more of this precious gift of seconds, minutes, and even hours. Now that I have aged, I smile each time I hear my ego-self say, “I don’t have time to reflect and write today, I have too much to do”. Now that I am wiser, I know from experience that on the days I spend time with scripture, more time appears for me. This is unfailing. Just when I think I can better spend my summer morning in attending Morning Prayer or Mass, I remember the days that magically lengthened when I spent time dedicated to listening for and to God alone. This happens without exception.

“God is moving among the pots and pans” by Lorraine E. Espenhain in Seton Magazine

Teresa of Avila reminds us that God visits us even among the pots and pans and so we can easily dedicate each moment of work and play as an opportunity to experience God through our work and interactions. Once we master the art of giving and doing all for and in God, we will find ourselves praying non-stop, giving our worries over to God, thanking Christ for accompanying us, asking the Spirit to breath patience, prudence and endurance into our minds and hearts.

This paradox may be difficult to believe and so Richard Rohr, OFM reminds us that . . .

“Only when you give up your preoccupation with control will you be able to move with the Divine Flow. Without all the inner voices of resistance and control, it is amazing how much you can get done and not get tired . . . Giving up control is a school of union, compassion, and understanding. It is also a school for the final letting go that we call death. If you practice giving up control early in life, you will be much happier and much closer to the truth, to the moment, and to God – none of which can be experienced if you are doing all the engineering and steering”. (Rohr 135)

We may wish we had learned this lesson earlier in life; but no matter the age of our understanding, the lesson never leaves us once learned. Our scholarship is well worth the effort.

For all your worrying, you cannot add a single moment to your span of life. (NAB)

This message is so difficult.

Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying? (GNT)

This message is so direct.

Can any of you by worrying add an hour to his life? (CJB)

This message is so simple.

And which of you, by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? (DRA)

This message is so wonderful.

Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? (MSG)

This message is so full of promise.

Today we practice the art of letting go so that God might flow within us. When we fully realize that we cannot make events happen that must happen, or prevent circumstance that must occur, we begin to experience the common wonderful gift of living in God’s time rather than our own. And we begin to recognize and appreciate our place in God’s creation.

God’s actions are not measured by time . . . to better understand this concept opened for us by Teresa of Avila, read God is moving among the pots and pans by Lorraine E. Espenhain iSeton Magazine at: http://www.setonmagazine.com/homeschool/general-homeschooling/god-is-moving-among-the-pots-and-pans 

Enter the words God time into the blog search bar and reflect on The Common Wonderful gift of time.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

When we compare different translations of these verses, we find tools to help us in our letting go . . . so that we might enter into God’s Common Wonderful.


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John 8:1-11: Contemplating God’s Mercy

Sunday, August 27, 2017

“God is a riverbed of mercy that underlies all the flotsam and jetsam that flows over it and soon passes away. It is vast, silent, restful, and resourceful, and it receives and also releases all the comings and goings. It is awareness itself (as opposed to judgement), and awareness is not the same as ‘thinking’. It refuses to be pulled into the emotional and mental tugs-of-war that form most of human life. To look out from this untouchable silence is what we mean by contemplation”. (Rohr 187)

Richard Rohr, OFM, tells us that if there is one characteristic to assign to God, it is mercy. This life-giving quality of forgiveness, fidelity, and love is God’s signature characteristic. Rohr quotes St. Teresa of Ávila from her book THE INTERIOR CASTLE. “The soul is spacious, plentiful, and its amplitude is impossible to exaggerate . . . the sun her radiates to every part . . . and nothing can diminish its beauty”. Rohr continues, “This is your soul. It is God-in-you. This is your True Self”. (Rohr 187)

Pope Francis tells us that THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY in his signature work published in 2016.  He, like Rohr and St. Teresa, reminds us that in order to understand and experience mercy, we must first acknowledge that we are in need of mercy ourselves. Just as Jesus forgives the condemned woman in John 8, God wants to forgive each of us. Just as Jesus does not reproach the woman in John 8, God refuses to reproach each of us. Just as Jesus contemplates the possibility that God’s kingdom is now, God gives us the gift of mercy and insists that the kingdom is here.

“We live in a society that encourages us to discard the habit of recognizing and assuming our responsibilities: It is always others who make mistakes. It is always others who are immoral. It’s always someone else’s fault, never our own”. (Pope Francis, 2)

We live in a place and time when blame and fault are assigned, credit is taken, and deep divisions grow. We live in a place and time when mercy and love are needed, stories are believed, and bridges are built over deep chasms. St. Teresa, Rohr and Pope Francis tell us that God is a riverbed of mercy. They remind us that God’s generosity and love have no bounds. Once we begin to contemplate God as seen through the actions of Jesus, we know all of this to be true. Once we allow God’s Spirit to enter our lives, we allow ourselves to slide into the mighty flow of mercy that washes away all that separates us.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Pope Francis, THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY: A Conversation with Andrea Tornielli


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Micah 2:1-2: Confronting Dangerous Winds

Tuesday, June 14, 2015

François Gérar: St. Teresa of Ávila

François Gérar: St. Teresa of Ávila

A Favorite from October 17, 2010.

Teresa of Ávila and Catherine of Siena

I cannot understand what it is that makes people afraid of setting out on the road to perfection.  May the Lord, because of who he is, give us understanding of how wretched is the security that lies in such manifest dangers as following the crowd and how true security lies in striving to make progress on the road of God.  Let them turn their eyes to him and not fear the setting of this Sun of Justice, nor, if we don’t first abandon him, will he allow us to walk at night and go astray.  Teresa of Ávila, MAGNIFICAT Meditation for October 15, 2010. 

This past Friday was the feast day of Teresa of Ávila and on that day the readings focused on the fact that we are chosen by God, that God loves us more than we can imagine, and that nothing we think or say or do is secret from him.  Today’s readings are about how we are to be persistent in prayer, just as were Teresa of Ávila and Catherine of Siena, two women who have been named Doctors of the Church, two women who did not let their fear of anything earthly keep them from doing as God asked them – even when it involved great risk to themselves and to all they struggled to do in God’s name.

Here is an excerpt from today’s MAGNIFICAT Day by Day reflection taken from one of Catherine of Siena’s letters.  You know full well, most holy Father, that when you accepted holy Church as your bride you agreed also to work hard for her.  You expected all these contrary winds of pain and difficulty to confront you in battle over her.  So confront these dangerous winds like a brave man, with strength and patience and enduring perseverance.  Never turn back because of pain or discouragement or slavish fear, but persevere, and rejoice in the storms and struggles.  Let your heart rejoice, for in the many contrary things that have happened or will yet happen the deeds of God are surely being done, nor have they ever been done in any other way. 

Catherine of Siena

Catherine of Siena

Both of these women remind us that we are called to perfection and that perfection lies in our persistence to do God’s will despite the inconveniences and risks we meet along the way because God will never let God’s work go undone.  In today’s Noontime we read that woe befalls those who plot iniquity, those who lie on ivory couches to lay schemes and plots, those who covet what others have and are, those who cheat others out of what they are due.

Today’s readings (Exodus 17:8-13, Psalm 121, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2, and Luke 18:1-8) remind us that Moses and the Israelites, Paul, Timothy, the nameless Persistent Widow, and Jesus himself did not abandon the work given them by God – even in the face of great odds and overwhelming fear.   All of this reminds us that when we are doing the work of the Gospel we will encounter unforgiving and dangerous head winds.  We will experience great darkness and be tempted to undo our walk of perfection and persistence.  All of this reminds us that in the midst of the greatest suffering and distress we do not find agony alone . . .  there also do we find our God, and other who would do God’s will.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 15 & 17.10 (2010). Print.  

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