Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church
(Galatians 4:22-24.26-27.31-5:1; Luke 11:29-32)
Women today often speak of a "glass ceiling" prohibiting them from advancing to the highest places in an organization. Through the glass they see their goal, but the presence of the glass impedes them from reaching it. Unfortunately the glass ceiling has always been a social reality; however, once in a while a woman has been able to penetrate it. St. Teresa of Avila certainly did.
Teresa was born in the city of Avila, Spain in the sixteenth century. It was a time of great national prosperity owing to the riches of the Americas which Spain was able to exploit. As often happens with prosperity, however, people become relaxed - a condition that especially compromises religious life. Noting that the Carmelite Order had become largely undisciplined, Teresa began a reform that reached past the convents of nuns to the friars of the Order. In addition to turning the tide of laxity, Teresa wrote religious classics that have edified many spiritual lives for over four centuries.
Living in a time of almost universal superfluity, our society has also given itself to a certain laxness. For example, the habit of doing penance on Fridays, that is mandated by Church, is commonly ignored. We need religious leaders like Teresa of Avila to guide us in living a disciplined life of sacrifice and prayer as well as a true appreciation of God's bounty.