Quote of the day: 6 March

Lent at the Incarnation


Teresa is prioress of the Monastery of the Incarnation during the three-year period 1571-1574, from age 56 to 59… accepting this office was “the hardest trial of obedience that Teresa ever had to submit to.”

Teresa was designated prioress not through the election of the nuns, but through her being appointed by the superior… Obviously the nuns at the Incarnation saw themselves as unjustly deprived of their normal right to elect the prioress and they opposed this appointment with every effort. When [Teresa] the new prioress came down from St Joseph accompanied by the provincial, Angel de Salazar, and a great retinue, the nuns impeded them from entering closing the main door.

Avila, Monastery of the Incarnation

The group, including Teresa, had to enter the monastery furtively through a little door in the lower choir. And even so they met with a strong and noisy opposition, perhaps not so much to the new prioress as to the offensive way in which she was being imposed on them.

Everything calmed down when Teresa organized the solemn taking of possession in the community choir placing in her prioress’s seat the statue of Our Lady of Clemency and directing to the community a very humble and peaceable sermon. It seems that this brought an end to the resistance.

Everything calmed down when St. Teresa organized the solemn taking of possession in the community choir placing in her prioress’s seat the statue of Our Lady of Clemency and directing to the community a very humble and peaceable sermon.

John Singer Sargent, A Spanish Madonna

As prioress at the Incarnation, St. Teresa “benefitted by the first Lent of the triennium to safeguard recollection in the house, closing the speak rooms and herself confronting some of the annoying visitors.”

But more than anything else, she cares for the religious life of the house. She began by getting rid of the numerous seculars who were living in the house. She kept only those who were caring for the sick. She was very careful about the liturgy and assistance at choir. She herself gave the example, from the day of the great uproar, going to Communion the next morning.

She benefitted by the first Lent of the triennium to safeguard recollection in the house, closing the speak rooms and herself confronting some of the annoying visitors. Despite the poverty of the house, she herself on occasion gave food to some of the bashful poor. From the depths of her interior she heard the encouragement of the Lord: “the Lord gave me hope that his house would continue to improve” (Spiritual Testimonies 27).

Tomás Alvarez, O.C.D.

Alvarez, T 2011, St. Teresa of Avila 100 Themes on Her Life and Work, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh K, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

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