Sunday, September 21, 2008

A St Teresa for our times

Each time of communion beg some gift of God,
by the compassion wherewith He has entered thy poor soul.
Maxim 64, St Teresa of Avila

I am once again enthralled by Teresa of Avila. I find myself drawn to her regularly, at times when it makes not much sense: then, of course, it does.

On October 15th, we celebrate St Teresa, and on this occasion I will be preaching.

About what exactly?

It seems to me, at my early stages of researching that Teresa combined two wonderful qualities. She was a mystic, and a reformer. It is about these issues and their relevance today that I will speak of.

When I was interviewed by the Bishop, and again at selection conference, I spoke of my earnest belief that the future of the church lie in teachings and promotion of the mystic ideals. In many ways, the future of the church lies in it's past.

Instead of racing toward a plasma screen in every Chancel, or a cafe chat instead of liturgy; the church would be far better off delving back to the spirit of the mystics, none moreso than Teresa.

During the Spanish counter-reformation of the late 1500's, Teresa reformed the Carmelites in terms of Medieval ideas: a return to asceticism, prayer and poverty. Silence and solitude were among her ideals of life.

I believe that many Christians, and some who aren't as yet, are hunting for a stronger sense of the spiritual in their lives: it is a shame that many don't expect this from their church. Non Christians don't think they will find it within Christianity.

Teresa and the msytics are the key for the next generation of Christians. All want to experience God, but I don't think it will happen with the current batch of "new" ideas that the church is throwing up. Each new form (or formlessness) strikes me as a secularisation, reaching people where they are and so forth. There is nothing wrong with that, but once they are reached, what are you giving them?

Enter Teresa......

Call to mind continually throughout the day the matter of the morning meditation:
be very careful herein,
for it will do thee much good.
Maxim 31, St Teresa of Avila

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