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Teresa of Ávila
Teresa of Ávila

Let Nothing Frighten You

Friday, March 17, 2023

Let nothing disturb you. / Let nothing upset you. / Everything changes. / God alone is unchanging. / With patience all things are possible. / Whoever has God lacks nothing. / God alone is enough. —Teresa of Ávila  

In CAC’s Turning to the Mystics podcast, Father Richard shares what drew him to Teresa of Ávila: 

I first opened her Book of My Life when I was in college, and it just seemed like gobbledygook. I was nineteen or twenty years old; I just had no real inner experience. I conveniently shelved her, and only came back in my early years here in New Mexico. Realizing I had much more to learn if I was going to present myself as a teacher of contemplation and action, I had to go to the best in the field, and she was there. And I found what I once thought was so abstruse was now striking home again and again. [1] 

Richard describes the gifts of mystical experience, particularly those Teresa emphasizes:  

Mystics always bring this message in some form: “Do not be afraid.”  

They know that it is all okay and will be finally okay, too! They want to tell us so that we can stop fretting and fearing and enjoy divine union now. Enjoy is the operative word. Mystical experience allows us to enjoy our own lives and to stop creating enemies and thinking we need to be afraid of certain people; to stop fearing nations and races we feel we have to punish and kill.  

Where can we expect to go in life if we follow this way of perfection? What are its fruits? When we are enjoying deep union, we won’t need to create divisions, mistrust, and separation.  

True spiritual encounter changes our politics, our attitude toward money, our use of time, our relationships toward foreigners and the weak, our attitude toward war and nationalism. We are citizens of God’s Big Kingdom now (see Philippians 3:20). Be prepared to have a very different lifestyle afterward.  

If you are not ready to change, don’t seek out God. Once we have one sincere moment of divine union, we will want to spend all our time on the one thing necessary, which is to grow deeper and deeper in love every chance that we get.  

Talk to those who have had a near-death, or nearing-death, experience. They all agree: it’s all about love. It’s all about union.  

Saint Teresa of Ávila and her Way of Perfection are time-tested, reliable guides to this life:  

Of love, nonattachment, and humility. 

Of letting go, entering luminous darkness, and being ambushed by the Lover of the Cosmos. 

Of recognizing union on the other side of fading dualisms. [2]  

Teresa herself reminds us: 

Remember: if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love. [3]  


[1] Adapted from James Finley with Kirsten Oates, “Bonus: Richard Rohr on Turning to Teresa of Ávila,” September 14, 2020, in Turning to the Mystics, season 2 (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2020), podcast, MP3 audio. 

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, foreword to The Way of Perfection, by Teresa of Ávila (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2017), 14–15. 

[3] Teresa of Ávila, The Interior Castle, trans. Mirabai Starr (New York: Riverhead Books, 2004), 91. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Les Argonauts, Camino de Santiago, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper, Winter Bird. Jenna Keiper, Mystic. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

Perched in solitude, in communion with the Beloved. 

Story from Our Community:

This year’s Daily Meditations theme of the Prophetic Path has been a wonderful guide to me in a year so far spent mostly in the hospital with a treatable but rare neurological condition. When I realized I was not well, I handed myself over utterly to God’s providence in the whole process, whatever that may be, whatever outcome. I have been held in love in amazing ways and am encouraged to use this time as a special Lenten retreat. I am so grateful for the inspiring threads I can follow on the early Christians, desert mothers and fathers, and other topics. I am such a beginner on this path—but I’m finding great riches in that experience. Thank you. —Anna W. 

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