Thursday, October 16, 2008

Music for St Teresa of Avila

I have composed another piece for my ongoing "Saints" series. This time it was St Teresa of Avila.
Here is the piece.
My other posts about her will let you know my feelings about her, and what an impact she has had on my journey.

Where my other pieces in this series have been shorter (Catherine of Siena in particular), or in movements (Julian of Norwich), St Teresa ended up 9 minutes. It contains many peaks and troughs, and is rather dynamic. I think it reflects her writing style: rambling, unpunctuated, free and personal. The modulations seem to describe points of view from different angles.

I read and meditated on the following vision of hers before recording the piece:

I saw an angel close by me, on my left side, in bodily form.
This I am not accustomed to see, unless very rarely.
Though I have visions of angels frequently, yet I see them only by an intellectual vision,
such as I have spoken of before.
It was our Lord's will that in this vision I should see the angel in this wise.
He was not large, but small of stature, and most beautiful —
his face burning, as if he were one of the highest angels, who seem to be all of fire:
they must be those whom we call cherubim.
Their names they never tell me;
but I see very well that there is in heaven so great a difference between one angel and another,
and between these and the others, that I cannot explain it.
I saw in his hand a long spear of gold,
and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire.
He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart,
and to pierce my very entrails;
when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also,
and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God.
The pain was so great, that it made me moan;
and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain,
that I could not wish to be rid of it.
The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God.
The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one.
It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God,
that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.
The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (c.1565) Ch. 29

Pretty intense stuff, but hard to resist, and hard to not believe. Although this famous vision is fantastic and wonderful, The St Teresa that has stayed with me exists in the following:
Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee;
All thing pass;
God never changes.
Patience attains All that it strives for.
He who has God Finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

When I am feeling difficult and harsh, these words remind me of why I am here, and why I am going through what I am.
And he said unto all,
If any man would come after me,
let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily,
and follow me.
Luke 9:23 RV

No one, not even Jesus, said being a Christian would be easy.

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