Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Avila lived in the 16th century (1515-1582), in Avila, a small town near Madrid, in the Carmel of the Incarnation (pictures: Carmel_Incarnation_Avila). 

Outwardly, her life was not too bad: a large room, a lot of people coming for a visit, many oppotunities to be distracted from her true vocation: living alone with God, in silence and prayer. 

Later, when she was about 40 years old (not young anymore at this epoch), she clearly saw that God had another project for her.

Teresa felt that she had to find the way back to the original Rule of the hermits of Mount Carmel, with a small community of sisters. Prayer, and espacially mental prayer, should again become an absolute priority in their lifes.

Silence, simplicity and solitude, with some time spent in community, are fundamental elements for living alone with God. This only is essential: solo Dios, basta. God only.

"Solo Dios, basta"  should not be interpreted as a flight from human beings. Through her prayer, Teresa of Avila feels fully united to people and most of all, she wishes that everyone belonged to God.

A few years later, Teresa of Avlla founded many monasteries, starting with San José in Avila (1562; pictures: Carmel_San_Jose_Avila). Between 1567 and 1582 she founded 16 Carmels for women in Castilla and Andalusia, in small or large towns. The stories she wrote (The Book of Foundations) are quite picturesque. But this was not enough. Together with John of the Cross, she also reformed the masculine branch of the order, starting with the foundation of Duruelo in 1568. In many letters, she expresses her great wish: the foundation of a Carmel in Madrid, and she always emphasizes how important this is. The Carmel of Madrid has been founded indeed, in 1613, about thirty years after her death. 

All these foundations were acoompanied by huge resistance. Many obstacles coming from the church, the society, and most of all from the Carmelite order itself. Her sisters didn't appreciate at all that Teresa wanted to tell them how they should organize their life. Teresa had been accused of almost everything imaginable. She had been excommunicated, and her writings were on the Index of the Inquisiton. Her personal relationship with God in mental prayer was suspected of being protestant.  

Nevertheless, in spite of serious health problems, in addition to all the other problems she had, she went on, untiringly, with an always greater certainty: SOLO DIOS, BASTA. In a growing union in God: "O life of my life!" (Interior Castle, 7.2.6). Video: A walk through the Interior Castle.

Teresa of Avila leaves us many writings: about her life with God, prayer, the foundations and about 470 letters. Water is prominent in her contemplative life.  

When it rains, God himself waters... (Teresa of Avila: Autobiography 11,7)

Living water:  Teresa_of_ Avila_Gospel_Samaritan_woman

Other documents:

video: Let nothing disturb you (nada te turbe)

video: The Presence of God



Poem: I_live without living in myself

Nada te turbe (spanish): Nada_te_turbe, English: Let_nothing_disturb_you
Music: Virtual choir of Carmelites - Nada te turbe

Video: Let nothing disturb you