The Faith Of St. Teresa Of Avila

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the person I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.

“This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.”

You gotta feel for Jonah. His is the unlikely prophet. (Can’t you just hear him saying, “Me, Lord, are you sure? See, look over there, there’s George. Look at George, he’d be much better. Yeah, that’s it, send George.” Since God doesn’t change his mind, Jonah changes his tactics. “Sure God, whatever you say. I’ll get right on that,” as he quite literally heads in the opposite direction.

Oh my goodness, how I can relate! There is a similar tape that plays in my mind telling me I am not good enough, smart enough, kind enough to do what God sets before me. And how many times have I assented to God’s will, only to put it on the bottom of my to-do list and say, “Sure, God, I’ll get to that.”

It is bad enough that God’s corrective action for Jonah is to have him cast overboard to spend 3 days in the belly of a fish. Once Jonah delivers his message, Assyria repents, is strengthened by God and eventually breaks Israel into pieces. It almost begs a sarcastic, “Thanks, God, glad I could help you but…”

But all the humor at Jonah’s expense aside, Jesus doesn’t make references lightly. The Israelites of Jonah’s time had turned away from God and God used a reluctant prophet to raise up the enemy who would destroy them.

In Jesus’s time, the Israelites have once again lost sight of what is important and reject Jesus. More concerned with maintaining traditional roles and precision law-abiding, they have lost sight of the law as a means to a relationship with God. They too reject a prophet, not just a prophet, “but one who is greater than Jonah”.

So what does this mean for us today? It is easy to look around and say, “Evil generation? Yes, we’ve got that covered.” Fortunately, we also have the saint whose Feast Day is today, St. Teresa of Avila. She is a guide. She too lived in an evil generation. Joining a Carmel in search of a quiet life and contemplative prayer, she instead found a place where wealthy and social elite gathered bringing with them trivial conversations and a worldly focus.

From a wealthy family herself, Teresa could have been content with being one of the society women who frequented the monastery, pious in their location and poisonous with worldly values. But St. Teresa joins the contemplative life and reforms it from within by looking to herself. Well aware that none of us have the power to live a holy life on our own, St. Teresa opened herself up so completely to the Holy Spirit that she is able to hear Jesus himself speak.

So like, St. Teresa of Avila, let us not bemoan our own evil generation and let us learn from the Israelites of Jesus’s time that the law of God is a path to Him and set to change the only one we can-ourselves.  To be honest, St. Teresa, you scare the bejeebers out of me because you show me that there is no obstacle to being a contemplative besides me. Come, Holy Spirit.

While wearing many hats, Sheryl O’Connor is the wife and study buddy of Thomas O’Connor. Not having received the gift of having their own children, their home is filled with 2 large dogs and their hearts with the teens and youth with whom they work in their parish collaborative. Sheryl is the Director of Strong Families Programs for Holy Family Healthcare which means her job is doing whatever needs to be done to help parents build strong Catholic families. Inspired by the works of mercy, Holy Family Healthcare is a primary healthcare practice in West Michigan which seeks to honor the dignity of every individual as we would Christ. Find out more at