The month of October is very special for all especially for the Carmelites, as we celebrate the Feasts of the Little Flower of Jesus, St. Therese and the Great Mother, St. Teresa of Avila. Both are honored as the Doctors of the Church. It is good to get acquainted with them, but I wish to write on Holy Mother Teresa’s HUMANENESS.

We are God’s grace to humankind, a sacrament of God’s love! Should Religious Life make us less human? Jesus could relate to the woman at the well and make her His first Evangelizer - She brought a whole village to Jesus’ feet. A friendship is not for one’s sake only but for the other. In the evening of one’s life we will be judged on LOVE. Every other is an opportunity for growth. Holiness is not apart from human love.

The emotional life of the mystics can be gauged from the friendship they entertained and from the way they gave expression to their emotional reaction.
St. Teresa says that one of the criteria by which we can discern the genuine character of PRAYER is the quality of Sociability. “Try then, sisters, to be as pleasant as you can, without offending God and get on as well as you can with those you have to deal with, so that they may like talking to you and want to follow your way of life and conversation and not to be frightened and put off by virtue, This is very important for nuns: the holier they are, the more sociable they should be with their sisters.

Although you may be very sorry if all your sisters’ conversation is not just as you would like it to be, never keep aloof from them if you wish to help them and to have their love. We must try to be pleasant and to humour the people we deal with and make them like us, especially our sisters.

So try, my daughters, to bear in mind that God does not pay great attention to all the trifling matters which occupy you, and don’t allow things to make your spirit quail and your courage fade, for if you do that, you may lose many blessings.

Progress of Prayer essentially consists in the progress of social virtues of Love of one’s neighbor, Detachment and Humility. Hence adjustment to changing circumstances is entirely necessary for a happy Religious life. “A disgruntled soul is like a person suffering from severe nausea, who rejects all food, however nice it may be – things which persons in good health delight in eating only cause her the greater loathing. Such a person will save her soul better elsewhere than here. (W.P)

St. Teresa mentions of St. John of the Cross: ‘You would never believe how lonely I feel without him… He is indeed the father of my soul, and one of those with whom it does me most good to have converse.

Her love for Fr. Jerome Gracian, her favoured confessor and the First Provincial of the Reformed Carmel, was one more remarked demonstration of her appealing humaneness. She was completed captivated by him and for the remainder of her life she had an over whelming affection for the gifted Carmelite. She called the three weeks she spent at Beas ‘the Best years of her life’. About the man himself: ‘I have not yet fully realized his worth. To me, he is perfect and better for our needs than anyone else we could have asked God to send us. I have not seen any one so perfect and so gentle –‘‘I would not have missed seeing him and dealing with him for anything in the World’. Teresa was aware of this extra-ordinary relationship and the misinterpretations that could be placed on it and in a remarkable letter wrote: For many reasons it is permissible for me to feel great affection for you and to show it in the dealings we have together. But it is not permissible for the other nuns to do so. During the weeks at Beas, Teresa received a vision in which she saw the lord with Gratian at His right and herself at His left. The Lord joined Teresa’s and Gratian’s hand and told her ‘that He wished me to take him in place of Himself for my whole life long, and that we were to agree together in everything. Shortly after that she made a personal vow to obey Gratian in whatever command he might give her, providing it was not against the will of God or the Superiors whom I was already bound to obey’.

She was 60 years old and had entered the highest regions of the spiritual and mystical life - making a vow to obey a 30 year old priest– almost as soon as she met him and before she could know him – It emphasizes Gratian’s unique charms. Teresa adopted an attitude toward him which was almost maternal. She offered him solicitous advice about almost every detail of his life:’ I am worried whether you have remembered to put on more clothes, because the weather is getting cold’. ‘Stop devoting the Hours when you ought to be asleep, to making plans however necessary they might be - or to prayer not to go to Seville as there was plague raging there. She wrote to the Prioress of Seville to take good care of him ‘because he so much needs to be looked after.’

For the saint such sensible love can lead our fellowmen to God. ‘Let the truth be in your hearts as it will be if you practice meditation and you will see clearly what love you are bound to have for our neighbours.’

St. Teresa reprimanded John of the Cross in her famous: Vijamon. (judgment) ‘It would be a bad business for us if we could not seek God until we were dead to the World…God deliver me from people who are so spiritual that they want to turn everything into perfect contemplation, come what may’.

Our heart is created for affection, for love which is always God centred and neighbor centred.

As we grow in the love of God, our tender feelings towards our fellowmen too develop proportionately. If these tender, legitimate sentiments are crushed, we become hard-hearted.

Do not think if for example my father or my brother dies, I ought to be in such close conformity with the will of God that I shall not grieve at his loss or that if I have trial or illness, I must enjoy bearing them’.

The saint used all possible female wiles to win over friends. Her methods to acquire useful allies were as amusing as they were ingenious. To the formidable Dominican Theologian, Bartholomew De Medina she sends the gift of fine trout instructing the messenger that if at all possible it should be delivered in time for his dinner. “We shall see if he will write me a few lines?” He did and from a relentless critic became an ardent supporter.

With the Jesuits she used different tactics: “Think out questions to ask them, for this is what they like”.

The sublime mystic in high union with God , could descend effortlessly to finding a job for a friend out of work, a new stove for the kitchen, urging cleanliness in table Lenin and clothing, prescribing home-made cures - drink 4 to 5 draughts of Rose water , sends pills for heart-weakness, sympathizes with the one having tooth ache, advising Lorengo how to invest money – not in cattle but in land, how to meet the whims of her son, purchasing a horse or partitioning the kitchen.

We see from her life that holiness does not make you less sensitive to HUMAN LOVE.


Let nothing trouble thee
Let nothing affright thee
All things are passing
God alone is changeless
Patience wins all things
Who has God lacks nothing

This is a beautiful expression of St. Teresa’s absolute trust in God!

It is a source of great strength to me as I journey on life’s winding path. When I feel disheartened, disappointed, discouraged, troubled or the load heavy to bear I keep repeating this and regain immense peace in my life.


Sister M. Stanislas A.C.(1189)
St. Agnes Convent, Mangalore


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