Sometimes as He was On The Cross
St. Theresa of Avila was a simple nun. She preferred a life with few material possessions, in humble service to God. This simple nun, however, was connected with many extraordinary events. They included physical healings and even one instance where life was restored to a dead child.* Many a witness also reported seeing her rise in the air and levitate after her receipt of the Blessed Sacrament.** There were also people who saw her in two different places at the same time, a gift manifested by some saints that is known as bilocation. While each of these is notable, none of them is that aspect of her life for which she is best remembered.
Despite a meager education, she wrote books on “mental prayer” and contemplation that have become classics of Catholic literature. It was her ability, in common language, to peel back the curtain on the most hazy of subjects that earned her recognition as a Doctor of the Universal Church. In these works, she tried to help others quiet their minds and open their hearts to receive what He may wish to impart. She had many such experiences herself. They frequently occurred before the Holy Eucharist.
She describes them: “Almost invariably, the Lord showed Himself to me in His resurrected body, and it was thus too that I saw Him in the Host. Only occasionally, to strengthen me when I was in tribulation, did He show me His wounds, and then He would appear sometimes as He was on the Cross and sometimes as in the Garden. On a few occasions I saw Him wearing the crown of thorns and sometimes He would also be carrying the Cross – because of my necessities, as I say, and those of others – but always in His glorified flesh. Many are the affronts and trials that I have suffered through telling this and many are the fears and persecutions that it has brought me … Nevertheless, I could never regret having seen these heavenly visions and I would not exchange them for all the good things and delights of this world. I always considered them a great favor from the Lord.” ***
Perhaps these were merely the imaginings of a desirous mind. Perhaps she only conjured up things she wanted to see. We should therefore be able to discount this. Do we also discount all the physical healings that took place with her intercession? Do we discount the witnesses who saw her rise in the air during an ecstasy of prayer? Do we discount those who saw her in one location while she was in another?
This Lent, let us not look a reason to disbelieve. Let us remember the virtuous and inspiring life of St. Theresa and know that what she saw on this earth we will one day see as well when we are beyond it.
*Walsh, William Thomas, St. Theresa of Avila (Rockford, Illinois, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1987) p. 186-87.
**Ibid, p. 137.
***Taken from an account in My Daily Eucharist by Joan Carter McHugh, containing an excerpt from The Life of Teresa of Jesus: The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, E. Allison Peers.