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God’s High Expectations for Us

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30 Days with Teresa of Avila (Week 2 of 6)

Do not suppose that you will have to offer God no more than you have planned; you will have to give Him much more. He rewards good works by sending us an opportunity for greater ones. It is nothing to give coppers—they cost us little—but when people stone you and your son-in-law and all of us who have taken part in the matter (as they nearly did in Avila when St. Joseph's was founded), then the project will succeed, and I believe that neither the convent, nor we who suffer in the cause, will be any the worse for it, but will gain greatly.

Day 2, Paragraph 2

God's High Expectations of Us

Confession: I am not reading this book the way it's designed to be read. Instead of reading one selection a day, I'm binge reading during nursing sessions and quiet moments with my newborn in tow.

It turns out this is the perfect companion book for that experience. I'm not sure how much of a baby person Teresa of Avila was or wasn't, but her letters—and, just as often, the reflections by Burke and Lilles following the letters—speak to me in this crazy, busy, chaotic, full season of my life.

I find myself pulling out quotables from the letters and marking the book so much I feel like a student again. (It's not a bad feeling, really.)

Teresa's wit and wisdom is accessible even now, and I was struck, going back through these first six letters, by how, at first, many of the quotes I most liked seemed, well, dark. Take the excerpt above, for example. You may feel a bit of a shiver, reading it.

My four-year-old son has been increasingly interested (obsessed?) with superheroes. He's also very intrigued by the crucifix, and whenever he comes with me to Eucharistic Adoration, we have to make at least one lap around the church, talking about each of the Stations of the Cross.

Teresa speaks to that fascination, to the hope that can be found in the macabre story of the Crucifixion.

We face the cross, with its ugliness and horror. We shiver and balk at the weight of it.

And yet, without the cross, there is no Resurrection. Without the journey to Golgotha, there is no road to Emmaus.

Not so long ago, a colleague of mine mentioned that of course things were going wrong and obstacles were arising with a project. “It always happens when we're on the right track,” she said.

I hope and pray that I, too, can have that calm confidence in the face of God's high expectations. Would that I can laugh with real joy when faced with the “much more” that Teresa promises God will ask of me.

Reading Assignment:

Day 7 – Day 13

Discussion Questions:

1. What has struck you as you've read and reflected on these six letters? Which of them has most resonated with you? Why?

2. How can you apply (or how have you applied) what you've read in these letters to your daily life and everyday struggles?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at and is the author of a number of books for families.

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