Santa Teresa

For 99% of her life my mother was known to all as Zina: however, on the 15th of each October she proudly reclaimed her baptismal name of Teresa (Zina deriving from the diminutive form Teresina). Teresa is also my middle name, and so the two of us would celebrate our joint onomastico - our saint's name day. There was never any suggestion that we might transfer our loyalties to Therese of Lisieux - Teresa of Avila was definitely "our" Teresa! There were no deep theological or spiritual reasons, just something about Santa Teresa's flamboyance mixed with her down-to-earth humanity and humour which strongly appealed to us. Any woman who, exhausted from travelling and soaked from having fallen into a river could instantly think of berating God with dark humour - if this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you've got so few of them! - was definitely the patron saint for us!

So I was delighted to see a friend's Facebook status describing Teresa as a strong woman, full of reckless love for God. There are none so reckless as the wholehearted, and Teresa, once she had fallen madly and totally in love with God was definitely wholehearted. Even so, she remained grounded and practical, her spiritual advice strongly laced with common sense and humanity - and spiced with more than a dash of her characteristic humour.

There is a lovely prayer of hers. I don't know its exact origin, but I like to imagine her writing it to one of her dearly beloved convents, sending it as a form of blessing for each sister, with much tender love. We can certainly pray it for ourselves and for those we love... especially anyone called Teresa, to wish them a buon onomastico...

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and everyone of you.


  1. I've never heard that prayer of Teresa of Avila before but it is *exactly* what I needed spelled out in black and white (or blue and purple) today. Thank you for posting it - it feels like a gift.


Post a Comment