Scott Hahn’s newest book goes on sale May 28, 2013!
From the bestselling author of The Lamb’s Supper and Signs of Life comes an illuminating work that unlocks the many mysteries of the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist.
Reading Teresa’s [Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, Teresa of Ávila] story helped me understand for the first time why my parents had returned to her works so oft en and spoken of her with such affection. In Teresa, I found a woman of passion and purpose whose journey was all the more compelling for its detours.
Teresa’s spicy, messy, and meandering spiritual journey cast my own struggles in a new light. Perhaps the discontent that had dogged me for the past year was not a spiritual dead end or a signal that I needed to work harder at tidying up my life. Maybe it was the opening chapter in a love story like the one Teresa had lived, a story in which a divine protagonist pursues his beloved with reckless ardor and ultimately wins her heart. Reading about Teresa’s ecstatic prayer experiences— in which she felt Jesus consuming her with a love so sweet and piercing that she thought she might die on the spot— I felt a desire for divine intimacy kindled within me.
I also felt inspired by the discovery that Teresa’s ardent faith had not squelched her natural boldness and originality but purified and intensified both, allowing her to use her gift s for a higher good. For Teresa, faith was a source of liberation, not oppression. She surely was a product of her times; her apologies for “womanly dullness of mind” make that clear. Yet Teresa defended a woman’s calling to the same heights of mystical prayer to which God calls men and praised women for the special love and faith they showed Jesus while he was on earth. In an early draft of The Way of Perfection, she laments that the all- male ranks of judges in her day see “no virtue in women that they do not hold suspect,” and she looks forward to the day “when everyone will be known for what he is . . . these are times in which it would be wrong to undervalue virtuous and strong souls, even though they are women.”
Slapping the feminist label on Teresa may be a stretch, but this trailblazer’s single- minded focus on God’s will led her to embark on adventures and undertake risks that would have intimidated most men of her day— and most secular feminists of ours. Through it all, Teresa retained her Spanish wit and zest for life, encouraging her nuns to join her for laughter, music, and dancing during recreation periods and delivering spiritual insights in an earthy, intuitive voice that reveals a uniquely feminine spiritual perspective.
Meeting Teresa marked a significant step in my nascent spiritual journey, though I did not understand its full significance until years later. Teresa was the first woman saint I discovered as an adult; she was the first to model a mixture of faith, femininity, and freedom that I could admire and appropriate for my own life. I had no plans to join the cloistered Carmelites and no illusions that my mumbled daily prayers would morph into ecstasies anytime soon. It did not cross my mind that I should forgo plunging necklines or an extra beer on my girls’ nights out, much less don a hair shirt or maintain monastic silence.
For all the differences between Teresa’s life and mine, though, I could see strong parallels: an aching hunger for meaning, boredom with worldly pleasures and success, a passionate and often prideful intensity that could be used for great good or great folly. In Teresa, I saw the kind of woman I might become if I ever took God seriously enough to try. And I found a friend to whom I could turn in prayer, someone who could give Jesus an extra nudge on my behalf when I needed help overcoming the temptations of superficiality and sensuality that Teresa knew well.
Excerpted from My Sisters the Saints by Colleen Carroll Campbell. Copyright © 2012 by Colleen Carroll Campbell. Excerpted by permission of Image, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The Temptations of Jesus
There is not one facet of my life that Jesus did not experience. This includes being tempted by the evil spirit. The Lord was led into the desert for this express purpose, and to prepare himself for the combat He fasted forty days.
The pains of hunger must have been severe and it was at a time when he was physically weak that the Tempter posed these questions. “Why not turn stones into bread? Are you not God’s Son? Have you not experienced hunger? Certainly it is time to perform some wonder. No one would see you here in the desert and you have a legitimate need—yes, now is the time to use your power over creation.”
“No,” Christ replied calmly. “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
I wonder if Jesus was not trying to tell me that there are many ways God feeds my soul, for example: the Word coming forth from the Father. The Eternal Word (Christ) is food for my soul in the same way material food sustains my body. The revelation of God (Scripture) and the Will of God manifested in my life, moment to moment, nourishes my soul.
This is a difficult lesson for me to learn. My life is more de- pendent on the Word of God than on material food. I have the tendency to look upon visible reality as the only reality, and lose sight of a loving Father sustaining my very breath by His Power.
In this regard, I remember an incident in the Lord’s life. He had been speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well and His disciples returned with provisions. He told them His food was to do the Will of His Father. The accomplishment of God’s Will is real food for my soul because it promotes growth in Christ and sustains the supernatural life in my soul.
It is no wonder the Tempter did not understand and proceeded to tempt Christ to pride. “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down, for it is written He will send His Angels to uphold You lest You dash your foot against a stone.”
Such a manifestation of power would certainly have aroused the enthusiasm of the people and given Christ personal glory. It might have impressed those in authority to receive Him as the Messiah and start His mission of Redemption with acceptance by the majority of the people.
This course of action seems so logical, especially after waiting thirty years to begin His mission. But here again, Christ shows His complete adherence to the Father’s Will, for He understood that this was not the way the Father chose for Him. The plan of Redemption called for humility and the Cross and He would follow no other path. It might not be understood but this was the only way to crush the arrogance and pride of the Tempter and to teach us how to combat our own temptations—with a calm, quiet humility. Christ answered, “It is also written ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ ” (Deut. 6:16)
The Lord seems to be telling me something in all this. First, I must not presume on the goodness of God even though there seems to be Scriptural foundation for it. I cannot inter- pret Scripture to suit my own needs, especially when those needs are primarily for my own glory and pride. God is good and merciful but I cannot presume on that mercy by putting off my conversion until my old age. I must follow the Love in his time, not mine.
Second, I must use the talents and gifts given me by the Lord for the good of others with prudence and only for the glory of the Father, not my own glory or satisfaction.
Third, I must be careful of pride and a “show-off attitude”—my only concern must be to do God’s Will with humility and gratitude, and to accept His Will in regard to my neighbor with loving resignation.
After tempting Christ to first misuse his power for selfish motives, and then to show off his power for personal glory, the Tempter tried the temptation that seems to succeed when all others fail—avarice, a greed for earthly things beyond the necessities of daily life. The Tempter showed him the riches of the world and said, “All these will I give You if You fall down and worship me.”
Just imagine possessing all the wealth and luxury of many kingdoms for one act of adoration to the Tempter.
The Master answered quickly and firmly, “The Lord Thy God shalt thou adore and Him alone shall thou serve.”
Jesus loved me so much that he permitted Himself to be tempted in those areas that I would find difficult to conquer: Selfishness. Pride. Worship of False Gods.
He gave me a beautiful example of how to act and what to do.
I must put my hope in God and look out for the good of my neighbor and not my own good. I must be humble and give the credit to the Lord for my life, talent, gifts, and possessions, and use them with prudence.
I must be detached from an excess of earthly possessions according to my state in life, love God as the only Lord and Ruler of the Universe, and seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.
Excerpted from The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica by Introduced and Edited by Raymond Arroyo, pp 183 -187. Copyright © 2010 by Raymond Arroyo. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday Religion, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Today we’re sharing the excerpt from the Spanish edition of Mother Angelica:The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles.
Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles in our 90 Books for 90 Years giveaway! Click here to learn more and enter.
From the founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, the world’s most well-informed, comprehensive monthly on the Roman Catholic Church, comes this enlightening introduction to the life and spiritual teachings of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the first Pope of the Americas.