A timely message, reported by the Vatican News Service, about the 450th Anniversary of the Carmelite Reform, focusing on the teaching of a Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila.
“Vatican City, (VIS) – Benedict XVI has sent a message to Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila, Spain, to mark the 450th anniversary of the foundation of the Monastery of St. Joseph and the beginning of the Carmelite reform by St. Teresa of Avila. The message, ample extracts of which are given below, is dated 16 July.
“The reform of the Carmelite Order, the anniversary of which fills us with inner joy, arose from prayer and tends towards prayer. In promoting a radical return to the original Rule and abandoning the mitigated Rule, St. Teresa of Jesus sought to create a form of life which favoured a personal encounter with the Lord, finding ‘a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us. Nor need we feel strange in the presence of so kind a Guest'”.
“St. Teresa presented a new way of being Carmelite in a world which was also new. Those were ‘difficult times’ in which, according to that Mistress of the spirit, … ‘the world is on fire. Men try to condemn Christ once again. They would raze His Church to the ground. No, my sisters, this is no time to treat with God for things of little importance’. Does this luminous and engaging call, written more than four centuries ago by the mystic saint, not sound familiar in our own times?”
“The ultimate goal of Teresa’s reform and the creation of new monasteries in a world lacking spiritual values was to protect apostolic work with prayer, proposing a form of evangelical life that would act as a model for people seeking the path of perfection, on the basis of the conviction that all authentic personal and ecclesial reform involves an ever more faithful reproduction of the ‘form’ of Christ in our own selves. … Today too, as in the sixteenth century, in the midst of rapid transformation, it is important that trusting prayer be the heart of the apostolate, so that the redeeming message of Jesus Christ may sound out clearly and dynamically. It is urgently important for the Word of life to resound harmoniously in people’s souls, with sonorous and attractive notes”.
“The example of St. Teresa of Avila is of great help to us in this exhilarating task. In her time the saint evangelised unhesitatingly, showing tireless ardour, employing methods free from inertia and using expressions bathed in light. This remains important in the current time, when there is a pressing need for the baptised to renew their hearts through individual prayer in which, following the guidance of St. Teresa, they also focus on contemplation of Christ’s blessed humanity as the only way to reach the glory of God”.