Every car I’ve had since the age of 21 has had a pro-life sticker on the back bumper / window. I once attended a pro-life conference where it was said that two ways to make an effective and low cost witness for the unborn was to write letters to the editor and put a sticker on the back of the car. The sticker on back of my car back in Ireland is the following. If you’d like to order one for free, click on this link . A witness for the unborn is ultimately a witness for Jesus – “Whatever you do [for] the least of these my brethren, you do [for] me.” Matt 25:40.
St Teresa of Avila (+1582) is one of the spiritual ‘greats’ of the Catholic Church and for this reason Pope Paul VI made her a ‘doctor’ of the Church in 1970. I recently came across an article detailing 5 primary lessons from her life. This is a link to the full article: https://www.ncregister.com/blog/5-important-lessons-from-st-teresa-of-avila Below is a shorter excerpt from the larger article.
The first is a huge hunger for heaven. I was impressed that when I visited in Alba de Tormes the cell in which she died, I saw painted above her bed a mural of a scene that happened when she was 7 years old. She had precociously built a little hermitage in the backyard of her house.
One day there she and her 5-year-old brother Rodrigo began to converse about the happiness of the saints in heaven. They were transfixed by the thought of living “forever and ever.” Rodrigo asked how they could get to God in heaven fastest, and Teresa replied through martyrdom. He asked how they could become martyrs and Teresa told them Muslims were killing Christians in Morocco.
And so off they impetuously began to walk south toward Morocco, forgetting the geographical complication of the Mediterranean between Spain and North Africa! They got outside the city walls as far as the ancient Roman Adaja Bridge where their Uncle Francisco, returning from a hunt, saw them and asked where they were going. When they told him they were heading to Africa to be martyred by the Moors, he cleverly volunteered to give them a ride. After they hopped on his horse, he galloped them back to a different type of martyrdom awaiting them at home.
The story is one of the most beautiful in hagiography, attesting to the childlike love we ought to have for God, for heaven, for eternity. That love still radiated from within her as her hopes were finally fulfilled in 1582.
The second lesson is about the importance and art of prayer. She is a doctor of the Church precisely because, with her fellow Carmelite reformer St. John the Cross, she is one of the most important teachers of the interior life in the history of the Church.
She used a vivid writing style and the image of an Interior Castle with seven “mansions” (each containing many rooms) to communicate deep truths about prayer and the spiritual life. St. Teresa invited all her sisters — and others — through each of these stages of spiritual progress by opening themselves up more fully to the work of the Holy Spirit.
The third lesson is about continual conversion. She entered the Carmelite monastery when she was 20, but the house was in a spiritual malaise. Some nuns had suites of rooms, with servants and pets. Eventually she succumbed to the worldliness herself, spending vast amounts of time entertaining visitors and friends in the parlor, giving herself over to various compromises with mundane vanity. When she was 39, God reawakened her from her lukewarm life in which she was tolerating venial sins and renewed her desire for holiness, for happiness.
That experience of conversion leads to the fourth lesson, which is a Church conversion. She witnessed and experienced what can happen to people even in places where people profess total dedication to God. She became aware of how much Church institutions, beginning with Carmelite convents, needed profound reform, and, despite great personal suffering, spent the rest of her life trying to be an instrument to bring her fellow Carmelites, and through them the Church, back to her first love.
The Church is always in need of reform and of holy reformers, who are instruments of God to bring us back to what Jesus in Bethany called the “better part” and “one thing necessary” [putting the Lord Jesus first in our life].
Finally, in this Year of St. Joseph, she shows us all to grow in devotion to him. Her love for the man God the Father chose to raise his Son according to his humanity and to protect and provide for the Holy Family began when, at the age of 26, she was cured of a physical illness after praying to St. Joseph.
“Finding myself so crippled while still so young and earthly doctors having failed to cure me,” she wrote, “I took the glorious St. Joseph for my advocate and protector, and commended myself earnestly to him. … His aid has brought me more good than I could ever hope for from him. I do not remember once having asked anything of him that was not granted.”
She tried to spread a contagious love for the spouse of the virgin.
“I wish I could persuade everybody to be devoted to this glorious saint, for long experience has taught me what blessings he can obtain from God for us. Of all the people I have known with a true devotion and particular veneration for St. Joseph, not one has failed to advance in virtue; he helps those who turn to him to make real progress. … All I ask, for the love of God, is that anyone who does not believe me will put what I say to the test, and he will then learn for himself how advantageous it is to commend oneself to this glorious patriarch Joseph and to have a special devotion for him. Prayerful persons, in particular, should love him like a father.”