October 2002Do that which most stirs love. St. Teresa of Jesus

Living From The Center

Every person has within them a heaven, whole and unbroken. Such was the thinking of C.G. Jung. It seems to me that if St. Teresa of Avila had known a C.G. Jung, she would have agreed.

During a recent retreat, our group was re-exposed to the Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer, of course, is that prayer form that takes one, gradually and non-violently, to the center. In the process, the person who prays learns to let go of fleeting distractions and ends, hopefully, in a place of rest with God. One of the benefits of this discipline is that of becoming more adept at letting go outside the times of prayer. For Teresa of Jesus, this prayer form became known as her Prayer of Quiet, explained in detail in The Way of Perfection. In modern-day terminology, one could say that, in going to prayer, one reads, reflects, responds (from the heart,) and then rests in the presence of God.

It would appear that another benefit of this manner of praying is that of becoming more accustomed to living from one's center, and returning there in the course of one's day. One also learns how to live life, fully. Teresa became quite skilled at this. What makes her personality and her spirituality so attractive is that her approach embraced all the aspects of her life, and not just the so-called pious moments, thus creating a healthy balance.

She said that the bad inn was only for a night. She prayed to be delivered from sad saints. She knew how to get up and keep going when her cart overturned on the dusty road. (She also knew just what to say to God at moments like these.) When her Sisters swooned at prayer, she advised them to eat more, pray less, and do more work. She was reluctant to have the Sisters play games at recreation, for she believed that at any moment the spirit of recreation could come upon the group. Possibly, she was afraid that she wouldn't be able to dance or play her tambourine.

In the context of community, (something that meant much to her,) and questioning spiritual advisors, she found and lived out her own unique mystery. She knew how to pray life. "Life ,too, is a prayer."*

* Karl Rahner

Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.

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