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Lecture examines prayer through Teresa of Avila

| Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Saint Mary’s Center for Spirituality (CFS) kicked off its lecture series titled “Saint Teresa of Avila: Carmelite Mystic and Doctor of the Church,” Tuesday night. The first lecture, titled “Teresa of Avila: Prayer is an Adventure in Love,” was given by Keith Egan, the Aquinas Chair of Catholic Theology Emeritus at Saint Mary’s, who has lectured and published extensively on Carmelite Mysticism and Saint Teresa of Avila.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of Teresa of Avila’s birth — the inspiration for the theme of this lecture series, CFS Associate Director Michelle Egan said.

“When deciding on a theme, we consider the current contemporary religious and theological issues, or if there are any significant milestones within the Church,” Egan said.

“The 500th anniversary of Teresa of Avila’s birth is one such milestone. Teresa is one of four women to be named a Doctor of the Church.”

Egan said exposing the students of Saint Mary’s to Teresa of Avila is important as they pursue deeper meaning in Christian theology and spirituality.

“This lecture series is an opportunity for students to become more familiar with Teresa of Avila and how influential her teachings have been to generations,” Egan said. “Her words, particularly on prayer, may have been written several hundred years ago, but they are just as fresh and meaningful today to people of all ages.”

Egan said Teresa is an excellent example for Saint Mary’s students living out its mission.

“They can look to Teresa – her courage, wisdom, accomplishments and her writing on prayer – to serve as a guide as they become positive influences on today’s society,” Egan said.

Keith Egan said Teresa’s desire to help people love God so that they could feel God’s love and “do what needs to be done in God’s kingdom.”

“When God loves us, God exists in us,” he said. “When we love God, we exist in God.”

K. Egan said Teresa described prayer uniquely as a gift.

“The risk of giving and receiving gifts is an absolutely necessary function of human life. …  It brings about a commitment of love,” K. Egan said.

K. Egan said Teresa of Avila’s “willingness to venture within herself to find her friend, her spouse, her Lord,” led to her greatest discovery of prayer — that, “God is the God of lavish love.”

“Prayer was her greatest adventure,” K. Egan said. “She said, ‘In this life there could be no greater good than the practice of prayer.’”

K. Egan said this is how humans experience God’s love.


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