VATICAN CITY (CNS) — On the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Pope Francis said he wished the whole church would follow her example and be in a “holy hurry” to bring the Gospel and God’s love to the world.
“It is time to walk, proceeding along the pathways with joy, prayer, brotherhood and this time lived as grace,” the pope said Oct. 15 in a letter to the bishop of Avila, Spain. The diocese is observing the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa, a mystic, reformer of the Carmelite order and doctor of the church, from the Oct. 15 feast day through the date of her birth, March 28.
Pope Francis asked Carmelite women to continue to study St. Teresa’s writings and “tell us who Mother Teresa was and what she can teach us men and women of today.”
For him, he said, St. Teresa teaches Catholics how to be pilgrims and how to live their lives as “a journey of perfection,” growing closer to the Lord each day.
Joy, prayer, brotherhood and attentiveness to the needs of the people of her day were four things about her that stand out, the pope wrote.
Every saint reveals something about God and St. Teresa showed that “God rejoices with us,” he said. Her joy was not fake and did not pretend that life was without trials, he said, but at the same time, St. Teresa teaches that “the Gospel is not a sack of lead that you drag heavily, but the source of joy that fills your heart with God and urges you to serve your brothers and sisters.”
Prayer was key to her life just as it is key to the life of any Christian, the pope said. St. Teresa’s example demonstrates that “praying isn’t a way to flee, nor does it mean putting oneself in a bubble, nor isolating oneself, but advancing in a friendship” with God.
While praying alone was important to St. Teresa, he said, she knew that the Christian journey is not one people can make alone. They need brothers and sisters and, even more, they need their mother, the church.
“How I would wish that today there would be more fraternal Christian communities where this journey is undertaken: proceeding in the truth of humility that frees us from ourselves so that we can love others more and better, especially the poor,” Pope Francis wrote. “There is nothing more beautiful than living and dying as children of mother church.”
Being part of the church and loving others, he said, means paying attention to the world’s problems and responding to the difficulties of modern men and women.
“If only we all would be infected with this holy hurry to go out and walk the paths of our age with the Gospel in our hands and the Spirit in our hearts,” the pope wrote.
St. Teresa of Avila
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- Pilgrimage to Spain in 2015 for jubilee celebration[/quote_box_center]
— By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service.