Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What Is Within, Give Alms

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

By Beth DeCristofaro

Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?  But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
(Luke 11:41)

“Sustain me, O Lord, as you have promised, that I may live, and disappoint me not in my hope.” (Suscipe of St. Benedict)

St. Theresa, articulate and inspired holy woman that she was had difficulty praying through much of her life.  According to catholic.org, she even used the excuse of being ill to avoid praying.[i]  It soothes me somewhat to learn that our greatest saints had difficulties like I do.  Taking time to pray is difficult enough but then sitting in stillness with God can be downright problematic as my active, distracted brain is as far away as my imagination takes it.  These past days I have felt for and suspect that I have been like Jonah who both ignored God’s voice and then resisted God’s mercy. 

In this I can hear Jesus’ voice to me:  give alms to what is within.  “Spend” my distractions, give away my flights of fancy, offer up my daydreams of myself in order to be cleaned and sustained by God’s grace.  Theresa relinquished herself completely to God and we have benefited by her insights and teachings among which is about prayer.  Theresa said:  "Prayer is an act of love, words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love." 

Is my prayer more than the right words, the right postures such as the leaders of the temple practiced?   I want to give up to the Lord those things which intrude before my face during prayer, engage my will to love and let God grace me that I may live.  Do my actions follow from my prayer?  It is in the fruits of our communion with God that God is known.

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