First read: 1999
Owned since: 1999
Today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), founder of the Discalced (Barefoot) Carmelite order of nuns and author of several classics of Catholic mysticism, including Interior Castle and her autobiography. This book is a wonderful introduction to a woman I consider one of the first modern female saints.
Teresa is my own patron, chosen at confirmation some 30 years ago. She was a brilliant, stubborn, independent woman who had to learn humility, obedience and charity. Theoretically cloistered, she was a great traveler at a time when travel was unimaginably miserable. She was sharp and funny, impatient with fools but selfless, longing for intimacy with God but aware of her own absurdity and unworthiness. I liked her when I was a teenager, and I like her even more as I get older.
Her most famous prayer is as comforting now as it must have been 400 years ago.
Let nothing disturb you,
Nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patient endurance attains to all things.
Who possesses God wants for nothing.
God alone suffices.