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Day 6: St. Teresa of Avila

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St. Teresa of Avila: Companion in the garden
This is the method of prayer I then used: Since I could not reflect discursively with the intellect, I strove to picture Christ within me, and it did me great good—in my opinion—to picture him in those scenes where I saw him more alone... The scene of his prayer in the garden, especially, was a comfort to me; I strove to be his companion there.

If I could, I thought of the sweat and agony he had undergone in that place. I desired to wipe away the sweat he so painfully experienced, but I recall that I never dared to actually do it, since my sins appeared to me so serious. I remained with him as long as my thoughts allowed me to, for there were many distractions that tormented me. Most nights for many years before going to bed, when I commended myself to God in preparation for sleep, I always pondered for a little while this episode of prayer in the garden (Teresa of Avila: Mystical Writings, Crossroad).

Reflection questions

1. Try praying like St. Teresa, imagining Christ’s prayer in the garden. Try not to just think about what happened—put yourself in the scene and try to experience what Jesus must have been feeling in that moment.

2. Does imagining Christ in this way change anything about your understanding of the Passion?

3. Is there any place where your mind cannot go in this scene? A place that is too painful or too foreign to your experience?

4. Is praying without words and focusing on experience a regular part of your prayer? Is there anything different about the experience?

Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-82) was the foundress of the Discalced Carmelites and one of the first women to be named a Doctor of the Church.