Aided by Spirit, Propelled by Grace by Beth DeCristofaro
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither (John 15:5-6)
“’It is time to walk’, to set out on the paths of joy, of prayer, of fraternity, of time lived as graced! Let us be taken by the hand of St Teresa as we go through the journey of life. May her footsteps always lead us to Jesus.”[i]
Paul and Teresa lived in turbulent times. Neither of them gave up on either their dogged discipleship or their incredible positivity that with God, all things are indeed possible. As a child, Teresa longed to be a missionary. Instead, she spent her life right in Avila, her hometown. Paul traveled the world. Both evangelized, wrote and taught from, being rooted, at home, in their spiritual journeys.
As close to us as anyone, including ourselves, Jesus is the conduit of the life that God has given us. Theresa of Avila’s writings are of life’s path to God and prayer is a dialogue with God without which we are in danger of losing our way. Paul taught that the Spirit aids us and Theresa envisioned that as we spend time in prayer we become more able to be with and move in concert with the Spirit, coming closer to the fulfillment of union with Christ. However, this happens due to God’s grace. We place our hearts in a state of love then act in love which is the essence of prayer.
Theresa felt that friendship with Jesus defined her prayer. She felt actual friendship with saints. She believed that friends in Christ, including worldly ones, are vital to the Christian life. And for Theresa, joy in the journey was a necessity no matter the mundane tasks of life. As she reformed the Carmelite order she taught this necessity to all her congregations and practiced it herself. Small committed communities are encouraging, faithful society of friends with which to make our way along the path to Christ.
How is your community bearing you along on your path to Christ? How are you bearing others along with you? Are there reforms you need to make or simply a joyful recommitment?
Message of Pope Francis
to the Bishop of Avila on the occasion of the opening
of the Teresian Jubilee Year http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/pont-messages/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20141015_messaggio-500-teresa-avila.html