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Lenten Struggles – St Teresa Prayer for You!

March 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Humility, Lent, Meditations, Mortification

Lenten Struggles:
St Teresa Prayer Reflection on Humility and Mortification for You!

Lenten struggles“Why O Lord, should I be preoccupied with my fears and lose courage in the face of my weakness? You give me to understand that I must fortify myself in humility, and convince myself that I can do very little alone, and that without your help I am nothing. I shall put all my confidence in your mercy, and shall distrust my own strength, convinced that my weakness is caused by my self-reliance. You teach me not to be astonished at my struggle, for when a soul wishes to give itself over to mortification, it encounters difficulties on all sides. Does it wish to give up its ease? What a hardship! To scorn a point of honor? What a torture! To endure harsh words? Intolerable suffering! In short, it becomes filled with extreme sadness, but as soon as it resolved to die to the world, every anguish is at an end.”

Saint Teresa of Avila

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Art for this post on the Lenten Struggles: St Teresa Prayer Reflection on Humility and Mortification: Teresa of Avila, Peter Paul Rubens, 1615, photographed by David Monniaux, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Janet

    That was beautiful.

    • On Friday, February 26, 2010, Disqus

      • Annajosephej

        It was inspiring

  • michelewalton

    I don’t really understand this.

    • lisakeuhlen

      Michele,
      I have learned that when I don’t understand spiritual scripts, ‘descriptions of interior movements, of soul affirming experiences’, it is because I have not lived the experience yet. If a word or a phrase or verse seems particularly of interest to you—it catches your attention–focus on this while you ask the Holy Spirit what it means. God is always at work in each one of us. It is for us to sit still for a moment and listen.
      Peace, Lisa

    • Benjamin_k

      Michele i think what St Teresa is getting at is, if we try to achive by our own strength we’re not going to get very far. Without the grace of God we are nothing, and can do nothing. for example,when we wish to sacrifice and give ourselves over to mortification. Do we really want to go through with it? We see it as such hardship and intolerable suffering, and the soul is filled with sadness, but if we resolve to die to the world, umm i guess lose interest in worldly objectivs and values and strive only after heavenly things we arnt so easyly afflicted by the world and its hardships and our anguish comes to an end.

  • Cathy

    This is positively beautiful, and touched my heart. I have been struggling lately, and this is a beautiful prayer, that especially now, I needed. Thank you.

  • Betsy

    Dan, the photo for this post is a mural that hangs in my parish church. It represents St. Therese of Lisieux at the time of her death. Email me if you would like an explanation of all the symbols in the picture. I am curious as to where you found the image, also.

  • Guest

    St. Teresa Of Jesus prays like she knew me and we were praying together. That is the cross I must accept. And now I know it is possible. All I need to do is pray for God’s Grace and Jesus will help me to carry my cross of fear, self-love, selfishness, self-judgement and a tongues which has life of its own. St. Teresa, Pray for me. Amen

  • larrybets

    May our dear Lord Jesus continue to hold us up. Teresa of Avila certainly had a way with words, although in a lot of her writings she would say she is dim-witted. Once again, a sign of her complete trust in the Lord and her humility to lower herself. I love her path. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Glindella42

    Please pray for me as I start a new job and a new love man…. I have to share my hope for you all who pray to our beloved teresa she always hears and comforts me even when i have my doubts i just always go back to her to pray even when i lapse i always take refuge under her wing. I feel like i am like a scared little girl and she comforts me in the storm of life like a mother and a big sister…. god bless all who pray to and for her and for someone. I pray for you all who invoke the name of our lovely teresa amen: Glenda

  • JustMe

    This is a rather awesome prayer.

  • Nicola

    I’m not a Catholic, but I’m doing Lent this year and giving up chocolate.  I don’t want to go around telling everyone, but I wanted to say it all the same because it helps me commit.  

    • Becky Ward

      Good for you!!  I’ll pray for your success.

    • LizEst

       Hey Nicola, I second Becky313…Good for you!! I fully understand having the desire to say it because it helps one commit. This is a safe place for doing that without going around telling everyone…You’re committed now!

  • judeen

    as we suffer and give things up for love of God, to mortify our selves.. hard.. we struggle not to give up. how weak we are, and try not to complain,… the understanding why we must do this.. to purify our selves of our own wants, lazyness, attachments, control our emotions, and so we become instruments all for God and not of worldly things.the more we realize we are weak and can not do things on our own, the stronger God is – this is scripture. dont be surprized by our stuggles to do Good and trust. in God… reject honor ,, for pride , arragance ,so on comes from this.. go to the lower place and then if your are worthy to come sit closer.. is much better than sitting in the place of honor and asked to sit lower. when we grow closer to God , people will laugh , sneer, talk about you.. , do not listen.. ( this is the devil trying to get you to give up..)when we have died to what people say and think of us ,, and only want to please God.. it does not matter what people say… just pray for them.. a circle of protection over the heart comes… nothing can touch you…

  • Clau

    It is just the right time to hear such encouragement! It’s so simple to understand yet so hard to accomplish!

  • Joseph

    This is a comfort for me especially to realise that I am not a completely lost cause, that even saints struggled with this. I can’t live a long time in a day without prayer and I love the Holy Rosary. For sometime now I have been struggling with guilt, sins of my childhood and at various stages in my life are suddenly coming back to me and they cause me so much anguish because they remind me of how much of a reprobate I actually am. At times I feel like I am wasting God’s time with my ‘insistent’ prayers when I have a bag of sins some of which I would have completely forgotten about. Problem is I don’t remember whether I actually confessed them so I confess again and soon after confession other big and embarrassing sins prop up in my head …
    I am struggling to say the least and at times I feel like Frodo would say “naked in the dark”. This prayer is a big consolation for me, that perhaps I am not a “complete” lost cause, thanks Dan for putting this up. I think for today I will feel less of a hypocrite (a whitewashed sepulchre) that pretends to pray whilst inside I have the worst sins imaginable … thanks again!!!

    • Be assures of my prayers for you

    • MJS

      Joseph,

      Don’t dwell on your sin, those feelings are not from God.  If you’ve confessed, you are forgiven!  God loves you that much!  He forgets confessed sin, and so should you.  You are His beloved!  

    • James

      Research scrupulous confession/reconciliation. It helped me immensely in reference to your confessing/reconfessing.

    • franny48

      Dear Joseph, i was in the same situation you are talking about. during confession, i asked the priest about “past sins”,
      confessed or not. He advised me that you are forgiven of these sins, and that not to dwell in the past. JESUS IS MERCY & GOD IS LOVE,HOLY SPIRIT DIRECTS US. Just
      take some time to speak to them when you are alone, i was
      advised to just say “JESUS I AM HERE, LOVE ME. we are
      all struggling, and you are never alone or wasting GODS’
      time,or a lost cause. the other prayer that may help you is:
      THE JESUS PRAYER–LORD JESUS CHRIST,SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME A SINNER. I have just found
      out about this most powerfull prayer. GOD LOVES YOU!!!
      do not let the evil one, put any doubts in your mind,that will
      separate you from your praise & love & prayers to GOD.
      I know that God is at work here,because we are in touch
      with each other now, to help & love each other….GOD will
      bless & protect you. i only typed in caps to stand out.
      You are important to all of us at this site, & i hope this message will help you. most sincerely, franny48

      • Joseph

        This is really helpful, thank you. The roller coaster ride in the life of prayer is confusing sometimes. I used to have profound moments in prayer, during the Holy Rosary, I even had frequent dreams (although in some I had devil attacks and would be saved by crying out the name of Jesus), profound moments at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in mental prayer during the day; HOWEVER, all that disappeared and now I even get absent-minded at Mass, my mind is crowded during the Holy Rosary (too many thoughts on other worldly troubles).
        Funny thing is I still don’t get bored with a strict diet of reading about the Church, encyclicals, history, watching Catholic video clips and have even gotten my kids interested in that. This is all confusing, thanks I will use your suggestion. I love you people, I mean where else in this era would you find people devoted to the love of God, sharing prayer advice and helping others with problems in prayer? THANK YOU!!!

        • LizEst

           Sounds like you are entering into a bit of a dark night of the soul. God wants us to love him for himself, not for his consolations.

          Often, after beginning with wonderful consolations, profound moments of prayer and at Mass, God begins to pull those away, or not permit us to experience those. It’s not because God is mean. It’s because he wants to strengthen our faith.

          The important thing is to keep at it, especially when you don’t feel like it. Your faith, your persistence, will have great reward. Consider that God’s patience is aimed at our salvation. It can be very hard to hang in there. Remember that God does not try us or permit us to be tempted beyond our abilities. He knows of what we are made of. And, to paraphrase Paul, His grace is sufficient for us. We have to trust, trust, trust and trust some more. That’s part of any friendship. To be a friend of Christ, we have to act like friends. He is patient with us and we must learn to mirror his patience in waiting for the Lord. Like little kids, we tend to want everything NOW!!! He wants us to be childlike, not childish. He wants childlike trust in Him, who is all good, not childlike impatience.

          So, hang in there. You may have long periods of dryness, or little to no consolation. That’s OK. Say, “Jesus, I trust in You.” Then, as one of the Psalms says, wait for the Lord with courage, be stout hearted and wait for the Lord. He is a good friend. He knows what you need. And, he will come through at the best time.

          Hang in there, Joseph…and remember to invoke St. Joseph, your patron saint. You have that name for a reason!

    • LizEst

       Joseph,

      Yours is, indeed, a particular trial by the powers of darkness. But, given that you have tried to confess all your sins in confession, they are forgiven…even the ones that you didn’t remember to confess. I was taught to say, after confessing the sins I remember, “For these and all the sins of my past life, I am heartly (or truly) sorry.” This covers you completely…and so does the intention to confess everything.

      When you are tempted by the devil not to believe that God has forgiven all your sins at confession, say to the devil, “If you are coming at me strong, my God is stronger. The Holy Trinity delivers me from you.” It’s like a mini-exorcism and it works.

      Once you become confident in this, beware of the next trick of the devil: to despair of the mercy of God, that is to think that although you have confessed and God has forgiven all your sins, x,y and z sins are so horrible that God wouldn’t and couldn’t possibly forgive them and that you are doomed to hell. God is rich in mercy and forgives even the darkest sins, even if we have forgotten to confess them but meant to confess all. A humble, contrite heart He will not spurn (cf Ps 51:19b).

      This situation is more common than you think these days. There are so many things that are not right in the world that you’d have to be a super brain or a savant to remember all the past sins. In fact, sometimes our past sins are the reason we can’t remember them when we want to for confession! (I’m reminded of the common joke that if you can remember Woodstock, you weren’t there!) Remember what Paul said, “Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.” Romans 5:20.

      Say to the Lord, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

      And, may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forever!

      • Cludwick

        New Name, thank you for your post here. It is comforting for someone who suffers as Joseph. I know because I too deal with this. 

        To Joseph: I also have discovered that I haven’t forgiven myself for these past sins; that perhaps I haven’t “earned” His forgiveness. My spiritual director reminds me that this could be born of pride and calls for humble submission to God’s will and believe in His love and mercy for us. He suggests meditating on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us (every one of us). Consider the why of His great sacrifice. God loves each of us so much that this is the result – Christ’s total sacrifice on the cross so that we all might have life – He died for us. May Our Lord Jesus bring you solace and comfort – and the grace necessary to deal with this.

    • Becky Ward

      Sometimes the Lord allows us to remember past events in order to heal us. Sins are certainly forgiven as others have described here. Yet our sins often come in “packages” if you will, and if we deal with only the symptoms the cause remains hidden.

      This may, or may not apply to you Joseph, but you might consider talking with your confessor about a “General Confession”.

      I personally found relief from the memory of past sins….ones I knew I had confessed, by writing them all down on a piece of paper….with the help of the Holy Spirit…..and then burning the paper. It was amazing!!

      There’s ALWAYS hope!

  • Henry

    Saint Theresa new the way of the Lord…
    Pray, hard work committed and knowing 
    that we are nothing more than dust….

  • PadreP

    “…as soon as it is resolved to die to the world, every anguish is at an end.” May I be so fortunate to die to the world!

  • LizEst

    How difficult Lent is for someone who has had a recent death in the family. Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

    • Becky Ward

      Praying for you.

      • LizEst

         Thank you so much Becky313. God bless you!

        • $1650412

          praying for you here too!

    • franny48

      dear new name, God is well aware of your sufferings,as well as everyone in heaven, and all of us at this site. the prayer that you say is called the “JESUS PRAYER” & I just saw a
      video & read the book about it. It is a very powerfull prayer,
      hermits & monks say it every day all day, especially in Greece,Romania, and many other Eastern European countries. you can look it up @EWTN:disqus.com, or Catholic on line, …we all struggle and that draws us to heaven and the
      saints, especially- the Holy Trinity. we all love you…and remember to say a prayer for the Souls in Purgatory,.
      if Lent is difficult for you now, it will only bring you closer to
      the Death of Jesus & His Triumph over evil. Hope this will
      comfort you——franny48

  • Abba’s Daughter+

    New name, my condolences. I will say a prayer for you when I pray my chaplet this afternoon. God bless you.

    • LizEst

      Thank you so much Abba’s Daughter+

      God Bless you!

      • Abba’s Daughter+

         You are most welcome New Name and God Bless You too+

  • mich05

    It is funny…i wrote two years ago that I didn’t understand this but this year it has much more signifigance in my life. I guess I was not ready to really embrace these Truths…this is a life long endeavor but I am living with them (worldly struggles) a little better everyday. Giving up that comfort; holding on to what we are use to is hard to do without God’s help.

  • Maureen

    I recently read that giving into the temptation of fear (in God’s service)  implies a lack of trust in God, and it made an impression on me.   The Saint Teresa prayer backs this up beautifully.     Thanks.

  • David John

    Those words are truly encouraging, and are so true. What a gift.

  • Momduby

    I just finished a Life in the Spirit Seminar and this just fits right in. A great reminder:)

  • Pmanology

    Thank you, for the most part I love mother of the faith that is St Teresa of Jesus

  • Mary@42

    I was off for a week so I have missed a lot from this Website which I love so much.  What consolation to read this Post after a person I trust most told me last week that my Faith and Spiritual Life is Pharisaic and a sham and even quoted me that day’s Gospel Reading to prove his point.  

    I was so crushed I resolved to abstain from my daily Holy Communions and weekly Confession until I got help from I knew not where as it appeared I have been daily piling up one Sacrilegious Sin upon others by unworthy Holy Communions and Confessions . Yet all these years I have always been sure I am striving every day – constant and frequent slippings and fallings notwithstanding – to come closer to God and He has been guiding me…Misery drove me yesterday, the 6th March, to seek out one very gifted Priest who comes to our 1st and 3rd Saturdays’ Prayer Days of the Divine Mercy and bare my heart and soul’s agony to him. After hearing my harrowing experience – and by the Grace of God he preserves the Blessed Sacrament in his Office – he advised me I was undergoing an attack from the Evil One.  We prayed and he categorically told me not to even consider abandoning my Sacramental Life and daily Devotions as an Eucharistic Apostle of the Divine Mercy.

    Here, Saint Theresa is speaking directly to my anguished soul. Once again, this Website confirms it is my Lifeline on my Spiritual Journey.  God bless you all 

    • Becky Ward

      Oh, Mary!! What a tragic tale….Thanks be to God for sending you the help you needed!

      Sending love and many prayers.

  • Joseph, reading your response, I have a strong feeling the Evil One is hard at work here, beating you up by constantly reminding you of your old sins to discourage you and make you give up trying to live your Faith. Just have a session with your Confessor outside the Confessional Box and he will guide you and reassure you.  

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