Tuesday’s Feast – St. Teresa of Jesus

Today’s Mass Readings

Saint Teresa of Avila lived at the time of the Protestant Reformation: that powerful movement which sought to heal the Church by breaking her in two. Saint Teresa herself suffered personally and greatly from the same abuses that the Protestant Reformers preached against. Saint Teresa knew, however, that the four marks of the Church—its unity, its holiness, its catholic nature, and its apostolic nature—could not be given up.

By contrast, many wanted to reform the Church by saying that her oneness was a unity that only needed to be manifested in the Spirit: that the Church’s unity was an invisible bond, without any clear and visible expression in worship. Many wanted to reform the Church by saying that her holiness was based merely upon the gift of faith that comes from the Spirit: that the Church’s holiness did not need to be expressed through good works. Many wanted to reform the Church by saying that her catholic nature was based upon the same Spirit calling all peoples to follow Christ, without any concrete organization to His Church throughout the world. Many wanted to reform the Church by saying that her apostolic nature was based upon returning to the example of the apostles in the New Testament, without expecting them to have successors in one’s own age.

What Saint Teresa — as a doctor of the Church — taught was that the Holy Spirit always expresses Himself sacramentally. Within the Church, each of her four marks is manifested in a sacramental manner, by faith being “enfleshed” within the Body of Christ: through the ritual celebration of the sacraments, through morally good actions, through the Christian communities that are united as parishes and dioceses under the guidance of shepherds whose authority extends back to Christ Himself, and which is ratified in our own day by the Vicar of Christ who serves the Church as the Pope.

Above all, Saint Teresa taught that allowing the Word of God to take flesh in our lives means allowing the Cross to take flesh within our lives. We take the flesh of the Cross in the Eucharist, then, so that we might be able to love the Cross for the gift that it is.

Catholic Diocese of Wichita

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