Monday, 28 March 2011

St. Teresa of Avila

This is a drawing I did of St. Teresa of Avila some time ago.  As my model, I was using the painting of St. Teresa that had been done of her in 1576 at the age of 61.  Even though the drawing is poorly done by a self-taught "artist", I tried to copy it as exactly as possible as I wanted to present the image more or less just as St. Teresa would have seen it.  I then debated for some months about whether to actually share it with you as I did manage to capture quite closely the look of the painting -- including all the bits that are poorly done!  I do have a gift for copying; not for original art work -- as you know.  Anyway, I finally decided that I would share it with you anyway as it gives me a chance to speak about St. Teresa -- a saint I am very fond of!

The story behind the painting goes this way.  Fr.  Jerome Gracian, her lifelong spiritual director to whom she had vowed obedience in everything, caused the painting to be made.  He felt that Teresa was often prideful and stubborn and so there was a need, as he saw it, to humble her.  Thus he commanded a Carmelite lay brother, Brother Juan de la Miseria, who was but a poor artist, to do the work.  After hours of excruciatingly painful posing for Brother Juan, Teresa was finally allowed to look at the result.  We are told that the Saint, upon seeing the finished result, laughed and told him, "God forgive you, Brother Juan; after making me go through no one knows what, you have turned me out ugly and bleary-eyed." 

By the way, the saying above her head was a statement St. Teresa often made to her sisters as she had come to find such joy in suffering with Christ in His Passion that she actually welcomed suffering as a gift from God.  Let those who can, hear what the Spirit is saying.

As many people reading my blog will know, St. Teresa of Avila, along with St. Catherine of Sienna, were the first two female saints to be declared "Doctors of the Church" by Pope Paul VI, meaning their writings and teachings are considered valid resources for the understanding of theology and Scripture.  St. Teresa has also been declared a "Doctor of Prayer."

St. Teresa not only had great insight into the spiritual life, she also had incredible energy in spite of almost constant illness during adulthood.  In spite of this, she led the reform of the Carmelite nuns, re-establishing the more austere traditions and customs of the founders of the Order.  During her lifetime she established 17 new convents and many men's cloisters as well as writing a number of books on prayer and the spiritual life which have long been considered classics within and without the Church.  She accomplished all this in a period of 20 years during the time of the Spanish Inquisition and often in the face of great hostility from her fellow religious and local priests and bishops.  Finally, she gained the support of King Phillip II of Spain and Pope Gregory XIII enabling her to continue her work until her death in 1582.

At the moment of death, it is reported that she said:  "My Lord, it is time to move on.  Well, then, may Your will be done.  O My Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come.  It is time for us to meet face to face."

Below is a well-known prayer by St. Teresa of Avila known as "St. Teresa's Bookmark".  It is actually a combination of St. Teresa's thoughts combined with bits from a song which was popular in Spain at the time she lived.


Next I want to show you 5 photos I received recently.  The email had a subject line of "Identity Theft" and so I supposed it to be about the serious business of having your identity stolen and how to try to prevent it from happening.

To my surprise and delight, I found the following photos instead of a serious treatise on the subject.  Many of you may have seen these already as they were being passed around the Internet; however, if you haven't here are a few I saved to share with you.  They need little comment as the photos are quite self-explanatory!  I, of course, could not help but ask "why" and give fanciful answers.

I have no idea as to what advantage there would be for a goose to pose as a penguin!  Maybe the farmer's wife had been searching for the goose with a large meat cleaver in her hand and the goose decided to hide out with the penguins until after another goose had been chosen for Christmas dinner!  By why penguins?  She would have had to go a long way to find any penguins!

I am not sure why a cat would want to steal the identity of a rabbit -- maybe the cat is thinking of having rabbit stew for supper!  It certainly wouldn't be because the cat has developed a taste for lettuce and carrots!

Is that a pelican on stilts?  Silly thing -- he isn't even pink!  And what do flamingos have that any self-respecting pelican would even want?

Now, I can understand why a cat might want to join up with the raccoons as they are excellent "fishermen" and can easily open clam shells, dig for and then break open crabs shells.  Most cats would think these skills to be admirable and the fact that the cat looks like a raccoon means the other raccoons would be willing to share!

What a ridiculous excuse for an elephant.  I guess the advantage would be that the adult females might be extra kind to this little "elephant" baby. As he appears to be so disabled, they would probably bring him all the leaves and grasses his little tummy might desire!  They are vegetarians, aren't they?

Now this is the most obvious one of all.  Why wouldn't a wolf want to be allowed to pasture with the sheep?!  This way he could take all the time in the world to encourage a little lamb away from its mother and into the ravine where he could then pounce.  Of course, looking at this silly wolf makes me wonder how successful he will be -- even with sheep!  If the sheep think he is a sheep then they will treat him as one of them which means head butting him severely if he tries to be obnoxious!


Well, that is enough silliness for one evening.

Suki is doing well although at the moment she is rather upset with me as she is convinced that it is time for her 'just before bed' feeding.  It is actually past that time, but so far I have been able to get her to believe that it is not quite time yet, but I don't think she is going to accept that for much longer.  This means that I will have to finish up with this post soon or else she is likely to come and try to sit on my keyboard.  Believe me, she has done this in the past!  It really messes up whatever I am writing plus she gets cat hairs all over the keys and the monitor screen!

So, I had better finish up here. 

I am doing reasonably well.  I am staying very busy these days with couples doing their marriage preparation course.  I am working with two couples at the moment and have another couple waiting until after Easter to start their program.  So, it is a busy time, but I truly do enjoy it.  In spite of all the aches and pains, life is good and I am grateful.

May the peace of God be with us all.

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