Tag Archives: saint

From the Writer’s Almanac

It’s the birthday of St. Teresa of Ávila (books by this author), born in Gotarrendura, Spain (1515). She grew up in a wealthy household in a walled city. She was fascinated by the spiritual life even as a young girl, particularly the martyred saints. At the age of seven, she ran away from home with her younger brother, hoping to find wherever it was that the Moors lived and be martyred. Their uncle found them just outside the city and dragged them home.
Teresa was also a beautiful and social girl. She loved perfume, jewelry, and elegant clothes. Her mother died when Teresa was 14, and she was heartbroken. Her father felt that it was inappropriate for his beautiful daughter to be without a female companion, so he sent her off to a convent school, which would teach her the necessary skills to become a good wife and mother. Instead, she decided to become a nun. A couple of years later, she suffered from malaria and almost died. She survived, but her legs were paralyzed for three years. During her illness, she had mystical visions, falling into trances or levitating during times of intense rapture.

Although she stayed at the convent for 20 years, it was not the sacred place she wanted it to be. Each nun had a set of private rooms, and sometimes a personal maid. They were allowed to wear jewelry, leave the convent, and entertain daily visitors, both women and men. Teresa eventually broke away and founded the Discalced Carmelite Order (the word “discalced” means “shoeless”). In this new reform order, the nuns lived in poverty and simplicity, devoting their time to prayer, according to ancient traditions. After establishing her own monastery, Teresa traveled around Spain on a donkey, setting up 16 new monasteries for women. She also wrote several books, including The Way of Perfection (1566) and The Interior Castle (1580).

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The Flowers of St. Francis, Film

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I thought this would be a biopic, but it isn’t, or not traditionally so. Get Brother Sun, Sister Moon if you want to see how Francis became a Saint. Watch this to get a feel for his life, for his approach to prayer and spirituality. Directed by Robrito Rossellini, written by Federico Fellini, this gentle film about a great saint, The Flowers of St. Francis shows 12 vignettes of Francis and his followers. It’s gentle, serene, humbling and at times funny. Francis’ humility, and connection to God come through clearly. He’s so patient with his men, some of whom would make me tear my hair out like Br. Ginepro, who creates trouble by stealing a pig’s foot from a live pig. Ginepro was my second favorite character as he’s funny, but also so sincere. Ginepro just lacked wisdom at first, but his capture by barbaric rebels was probably the pinnacle of the film.

The Flowers of St. Francis is well worth anyone’s time.


Happy Birthday, Dorothy!

Dorothy Day half-length portrait, seated at de...

Dorothy Day half-length portrait, seated at desk, facing right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the birthday of the journalist, social activist, and co-founder of The Catholic Worker movement Dorothy Day (books by this author), born in Brooklyn, New York (1897). Catholic Workers lived in voluntary poverty and immersed themselves in service to others. The movement quickly spread, and by 1941, there were more than 30 such communities throughout the country. Today there are more than 100.

Her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, was published in 1952 — she authored eight books and more than 350 articles in her lifetime.

Dorothy Day, who said: “The greatest challenge of the day is how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us.”