While at the Incarnation in the second year that I was prioress, on the octave of the feast of St. Martin, when I was receiving Communion, Father John of the Cross who was giving me the Blessed Sacrament broke the host to provide for another Sister.
I thought there was no lack of hosts but that he wanted to mortify me because I had told him it pleased me very much when the hosts were large (not that I didn’t understand that the size made no difference with regard to the Lord’s being wholly present, even when the particle is very small).
His Majesty said to me: “Don’t fear, daughter, for no one will be a party to separating you from Me,” making me thereby understand that what just happened didn’t matter.
Then He appeared to me in an imaginative vision, as at other times, very interiorly, and He gave me His right hand and said:
“Behold this nail; it is a sign you will be My bride from today on. Until now you have not merited this; from now on not only will you look after My honor as being the honor of your Creator, King, and God, but you will look after it as My true bride. My honor is yours, and yours Mine.”
Saint Teresa of Avila
Spiritual Testimonies: 31 Spiritual Marriage (Excerpt)
We lack data about Teresa’s introduction to the liturgy in her first years. In the Diocese of Avila, it was prescribed that girls receive Communion at age twelve (for boys at age fourteen).
Yet the real liturgical introduction for Teresa took place at the Incarnation where she was incorporated into a contemplative community, which gave the highest importance to liturgical prayer and disposed of a good, young choir to solemnize it.
The little story of her Communions is significant: the Constitutions of the Incarnation (the ancient Constitutions) strictly prescribe a limited number of Communions. In such a way that during the brief period of young Teresa’s spiritual lukewarmness, the frequency of her Communions was also less, and when she recuperated she began to communicate every fifteen days (The Book of Her Life, 7.17).
In the Constitutions of St. Joseph’s, Teresa doubled the prescribed number of times. Yet in her personal life, she invariably practiced daily Communion. And with careful, fraternal sense, she strove that insofar as possible at least one of her nuns would receive Communion at her side. Habitually she wanted the community to participate actively in the celebration of the Mass.
She herself usually made use of a little Missal to follow the rite. She gave special importance to everything referring to the celebration at the altar; the corporals, the flowers, the cleanliness of the place, even to the extreme of cleaning the occasional little shrine where the caravan of the founders stopped for the celebration.
With her entry into mystical experience, the Eucharist became the support of her whole life. The most intense graces she received on the occasion of receiving Communion. In one of these moments, she received the charism of founder.
The mystical graces documented by her as being given during the Mass or after Communion are numerous. Very special is the Eucharistic grace given on Palm Sunday or that of the spiritual marriage after receiving Communion at the hands of Fray John of the Cross, or those others she received at decisive moments in her foundations.
Tomas Alvarez, O.C.D.
48. Liturgical Formation (Excerpts)
Alvarez T & Kavanaugh K 2011, St. Teresa of Avila: 100 themes on her life and work, ICS Publications, Washington DC.