Teresa of Ávila by François Gérard (1770−1837)

A Beautiful reflection by a sister in Christ, on what St. Teresa of Avila has taught her about humility and her growing laundry list of things to do:

“God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me.”

Saint Teresa of Avila’s feast day was on October 15. I have never had a huge devotion to her, but recognize her as a Doctor of the Church. I’ve always held her in high regard for that title alone.

However, this month’s Magnificat seems to be largely devoted to her. Many of the reflections contain snippets of her wisdom. After reading “How the Church Has Changed the World,” a marvelous piece written by Anthony Esolen, I found myself in tears, weeping really. Esolen examined the many popular statements of our culture; “Believe in yourself, “Avoid suffering and do as you please.” He then counterbalanced these self-serving views with the way in which St. Teresa of Avila actually lived.

So all this has my soul yearning for more of St. Teresa.

I went over to our bookshelf and dusted off St. Teresa’s “Interior Castle.” Anthony gave it to me as a birthday gift before we were married and it has sat on my bookshelf ever since. I am learning a lot from St. Teresa’s wisdom, although I am not even through the Introduction to the book!

The first thing that strikes me is how she teaches that humility is the dwelling in which the soul must spend much time, in order to advance to greater union with Christ. Humility. I’ve been taking this to heart and asking God to teach me more about humility and how I can apply it to my life.

Just today, it dawned on me that one of my biggest obstacles to interior peace is my “To-Do list.” We all have one. Mine happens to be an entire notebook page filled with all of my most urgent “to do’s.” The most annoying part about this list is its tendency to get longer and longer before it gets shorter. Ugh.

When I do manage to cross a few items off my list, I feel such pride, so in control, so mighty. It’s embarrassing really, but I know you all have lists too. On the other hand, when I don’t manage to get anything crossed off, I carry the “to-do’s” around like big heavy burdens. I remind myself constantly that “I still have to schedule those appointments, pay those bills, meal plan…,” turning me into the epitome of Martha, and so far away from Mary.

St. Teresa’s topic of humility has me thinking about my “To-Do list” in a different light. As it is very long and I am never able to get through it as I wish I could, I am now going to call it my “Humility List.” If God really wants me to accomplish any given task on any given day, I have full trust that He will give me the grace, the time, and the energy to do it. All else on that list is a lesson in humility, a sign of all the things I want to do but am not able to do, and thus an offering to the Lord. “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

I have a lot to learn about humility, but I am already feeling peace in knowing that I can offer even my endless “To-Do list” to Him.  All the things I just am not able to get to today, are a greater offering than the small acts I do accomplish today.

St. Teresa of Avila, Pray for us!

“Seek your own consolations,” says the world, measuring worth by the resume or the hogshead.  But Teresa says that “perfection consists not in consolations but in the increase of love.”  We look for no other result than that there should be more of love in the world, and to till the soil for love is to seek someone to obey, so that we “might not be following [our] own will in anything.”  Love does not seek its own, after all. ~Anthony Esolen
Debbie Pienta is a Catholic wife, mother of four, women’s group leader, and doula. Read her entertaining stories on pregnancy, birth, and raising babies at Mommy Days Doula Care.

Kimberly Cook

Writer, Podcaster, Mother, & Catholic Apologist. Meet Kimberly

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