PRAYERS AND THOUGHTS OF ST. TERESA OF AVILA
Every note of Teresa’s life was a melody to God. This melody started to be written in Avila on March 28, 1515, and was finished in Alba de Tormes on the evening of October 15, 1582.
--Brother Juan Torres, OCD
We See the Mystic:
O My God! Source of all mercy!
I acknowledge Your sovereign power.
While recalling the wasted years that are past,
I believe that You, Lord, can in an instant turn this loss to gain.
Miserable as I am, yet I firmly believe that You can do all things.
Please restore to me the time lost, giving me Your grace,
both now and in the future,
that I may appear before You in “wedding garments.” Amen.
If Lord, Thy love for me is strong
A soul in God hidden from sin,
I acknowledge Your sovereign power.
All that I fear is but lose thee.
What fears can yet assail thee now?
Lord, grant that I may always allow myself to be guided by You,
always follow Your plans, and perfectly accomplish Your Holy Will.
Grant that in all things, great and small,
today and all the days of my life,
I may do whatever You require of me.
Help me respond to the slightest prompting of Your Grace,
so that I may be Your trustworthy instrument for Your honour.
May Your Will be done in time and in eternity by me,
in me, and through me. Amen.
As this which binds me unto thee,
What holds me from thee Lord so long,
What holds thee Lord so long from me?
O soul, what then desirest thou?
Lord I would see thee, who thus choose thee.
Lord, you are closer to me than my own breath, nearer to me than my hands and feet. Amen.
Love’s whole possession I entreat,
Lord make my soul thine own abode,
And I will build a nest so sweet
It may not be too poor for God.
What more desires for thee remain,
Save but to love again,
And all on flame with love within,
Love on, and turn to love again.
We See the Realist:
For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.
I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him.
May God protect me from gloomy saints.
Majestic sovereign, timeless wisdom,
Lord, You know better than I myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Handsome lover, selfless giver,
your beauty fills my dull, sad eyes.
I am yours, you made me.
I am yours, you called me.
I am yours, you saved me.
I am yours, you loved me.
I will never leave your presence.
Give me death, give me life.
Give me sickness, give me health.
Give me honour, give me shame.
Give me weakness, give me strength.
I will have whatever you give. Amen
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking
I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
Release me from craving to
straighten out everybody’s affairs.
Make me thoughtful but not moody;
helpful but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom,
it seems a pity not to use it all;
but You know, Lord,
that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details;
give me wings to get to the point.
Seal my lips on my aches and pains;
they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
I dare not ask for improved memory,
but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person
is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places
and talents in unexpected people;
and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. Amen.
We See the Intersection of the Two:
(The spiritual journey of St. Teresa is imaged in The Interior Castle. This is divided into seven mansions [also called dwelling places], each level describing a step to get closer to God. In her work, Teresa already assumed entrance into the first mansions by prayer and meditation.)
The first three mansions are considered to be active prayer and asceticism. The first mansions begin with a soul's state of grace, but the souls are surrounded by sin and only starting to seek God's grace through humility in order to achieve perfection. The second mansions are also called the Mansions of the Practice of Prayer because the soul seeks to advance through the castle by daily thoughts of God, humble recognition of God's work in the soul and ultimately daily prayer. The third mansions are the Mansions of Exemplary Life characterized through divine grace a love for God that is so great that the soul has an aversion to both mortal and venial sin and a desire to do works of charitable service to man for the ultimate glory of God.
The fourth through seventh mansions are considered to be mystical or contemplative prayer. The fourth mansions are a departure from the soul actively acquiring what it gains as God increases his role. The fifth mansions contains incipient Union in which the soul prepares itself to receive gifts from God. If the fifth mansion can be compared to a betrothal, the sixth mansion can be compared to lovers. The soul spends increasing amounts of time torn between favors from God and from outside afflictions. The soul achieves clarity in prayer and a spiritual marriage with God in the seventh mansions.
She candidly reveals this interior journey as being inseparable from her love for Christ and that the highest mansions can only be gained by being in a state of grace through the Church sacraments, fervent devotion of the soul's will to Him, and humbly receiving a love so great it is beyond human capability or description. Through prayer and meditation the soul is laced in a quiet state to receive God's gifts (she calls "consolations") of contemplation, and Teresa notes that man's efforts cannot achieve this if it is not His divine will. In fact she humbly repeats that she is never worthy of these consolations but is always immensely grateful for them.
Finally, the prayer most associated with her and her life,
often referred to as St. Teresa's Bookmark
Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices. Amen.
St. Teresa of Avila, the celebrated Carmelite nun, mystic and Doctor of the Church wrote this prayer in the 16th century. It's called St. Teresa’s Bookmark because, according to tradition this great saint carried it around in her prayer book, where it was found after her death in 1582.