Yesterday was the feast day of one of my most favorite saints, St. Teresa of Avila (St. Teresa of Jesus). I have always been fond of her writings and her frank and decisive actions. I feel connected by her suffering of headaches like me. She seemed to have endless energy to fight against the status quo and rebuild a religious order. But one of the things that struck me the most was how she related to our Lord. One story about her exemplifies this: when she was complaining about being treated badly Christ told her ‘Teresa, that’s how I treat my friends’ to which she answered ‘If that is how you treat your friends no wonder you have so few’.
This, to me, points out the power of a contemplative prayer life. The contemplation I am talking about isn’t the special contemplation that St. Teresa and other mystics experience – but a much more accessible and available kind. One that if exercised by each of us brings us into that life of prayer we so much need.
St. Teresa walked the world in conversation with the Lord, a conversation that wasn’t rote, wasn’t a subject talking with a king; but one of a friend talking to a friend. The story mentioned above is just that, a friend talking with a friend. With this relationship, this ability to have a friendly conversation, St. Teresa found the energy needed to do the Lord’s bidding, to help her friend. This living a life in prayer enabled her to meet the challenges because she was meeting them with Christ.
We too should strive for this type of prayer life. By constantly conversing with our Lord, telling Him everything we feel, even complaining as St Teresa did, we build our life into one of intimate association with God. We talk with Him as friend, then we find we notice Him walking with us as friend and in time we act as He does, think as He does, feel as He does, love as He is Love. Our life becomes one of contemplating as He does. This is grace.