Saturday, October 03, 2009

St Teresa and the Cardinal

The year 2015 will mark the 500th anniversary of Teresa`s birth.

Those of us who read her in English are dealing with a different language of a different time

Her greatest trials were from good, orthodox spiritual people with considerable positions and influence in the Roman Catholic Church in Spain of her time.

A declaration of her as Doctor Ecclesiae would have shocked the highly patriarchal society of sixteenth century Spain, especially the officials of the Spanish Inquisition.

What was the view or interpretation of St Teresa in the Church of mid-Victorian England ?

In 1865, Lockhart wrote and published The Life of Saint Teresa of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which was based on quotations from a translation of St. Teresa's Vida. It was edited by Henry Edward Manning, the then newly consecrated Archbishop of Westminster who provided the Preface. The work was published however under the name of Manning alone.

In the second edition of 1867, Manning produced a much more extensive Preface and the quotations are from the second edition.

Some of his thoughts about St Teresa are worth revisiting:

"The life and writings of S. Teresa are a perpetual exposition of the words of S. Paul to the Ephesians :

`That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by His Spirit with might unto the inward man. That Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts : that being rooted and grounded in charity, you may be able to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth. To know also the charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fulness of God.` Ephesians. iii. 16-19.

Her single and unceasing aim was to unite herself to God, through His Incarnation, with the most expanded vision of her intelligence illuminated by faith, and the most intense union of her will inflamed by charity. This appears from the outset of her life. ...

At seven years old she used to pray to die that she might see God. She read in the lives of saints that the martyrs enter immediately upon the vision of God. She at once desired to be a martyr that she might immediately see God. For this purpose she resolved to escape from her father s house,, and find her way into Africa, that she might be martyred by the Moors.

She secretly left her home, but was overtaken at some distance beyond the walls of Avila, and brought back to her parents. When asked why she had run away, she said, `I ran away because I want to see God, and I must die before I can see Him`. This is the key of her whole life ..."