Happy feast day of St. Teresa of Avila. St. Teresa is one of my favorites. She was not only a strong-willed reformer, she was a contemplative par excellence. St. Teresa had that “double spirit” that is such a part of Carmelite spirituality. Like Elijah, the “father” of all Carmelites, St. Teresa had the ability to move seamlessly between the active and contemplative callings of her life. She found the source of her strength in contemplation with God and that led her to do her good works and reform one of the greatest religious orders in the Church.

Ecstasy of St. Teresa by Bernini (Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome)

I recall fondly my summer with St. Teresa. I was in Rome studying Latin and I had brought five books with me. (1) Lewis & Short, (2) Gildersleeve & Lodge, (3) Teresa of Avila Complete Works Vol. I, (4) Vol. 2, and (5) Vol 3.

I used the first two books for class. The other three I read in my spare time. All but a few evenings were spent eating alone at a small local restaurant blocks from the Vatican. I had found a gem in my neighborhood and relished the two-hour meals I had sipping wine and eating two (ok, three) courses of delicious food. I asked to sit in the corner, and I brought St. Teresa along. She was my spiritual companion, and despite the fact that the restaurant was not the best place for contemplation, it served me well. I was blessed to have so noble a companion and continue to be blessed by her example of humility and undying service to the Lord.

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