Irrepressible gaiety

A while back I came across a book called Out of this World on our bookshelves. It was a 1985 directory of retreat centres and places offering a retreat-like experience and hospitality. The author had clearly visited many of the places, as, in addition to a factual account of the type of accommodation and retreats offered, the grounds, facilities and so on, there were, dotted around, one or two lines of what was clearly the author's own impressions of the place.

When I saw how he summed up our place Llannerchwen I chuckled: Serious, intense, but filled with the irrepressible gaiety of the deeply religious. I love it, especially the idea of the deeply religious being filled with irrepressible gaiety! I have certainly met quite a few RSCJ of whom that could be said! And when I think about today's saint, Teresa of Avila, it's probably a good description of her as well. She was undoubtedly serious - at least about prayer, growing in holiness and in her relationship with God - and undoubtedly intense... but she was also a woman of great humour and cheerfulness, someone who could wryly berate God whilst also laughing at herself - a woman who epitomised irrepressible gaiety.

Today also marks the end of the celebrations of 500 years since Teresa's birth, and this morning I came across this prayer which someone had posted on Facebook. As I'm writing this in between packing to go to Newcastle for a vocation discernment weekend it seems a very good prayer to say, not just for myself, but for all those considering a call to religious life, and especially in the Society. May we - may they - be people who, like Teresa, can witness to God's joy in the world, able to pray with all our hearts: Yours I am, O Lord, and born for You: what do you ask of me?

God, our Father,
we praise you and we bless you
because you have given us the grace
to celebrate the fifth centenary
of the birth of Saint Teresa of Jesus.

Lord Jesus Christ, 'true friend',
help us to grow in your friendship
so that, like Teresa, daughter of the Church,
we will witness to your joy in the world,
mindful of the needs of humanity.

Holy Spirit,
help us to move forward
'with a pure conscience and humility',
in the way of the interior life,
grounded in truth,
with renewed detachment,
and unconditional fraternal love.

Like Teresa of Jesus,
doctor of spirituality,
teach us to pray with all our heart:
'Yours I am, O Lord, and born for You:
what do you ask of me?'