Communal life is all about the co-existence of cultures between individuals of diverse origins and backgrounds in a cordial and seamless association. It includes people associating one another as a unit of society and as a single person or species. St. Teresa of Avila speaks of communal life in the sense of her relationship with the Sisters in her surroundings. Life includes teaching, prayer, breaking bread and other social activities that embrace people’s unity.1 She dedicated herself to teaching her fellow sisters about the aspect of community life.In this sense, teaching is a useful technic aimed at imparting the notion and attitude of a societal way of living among the people. It is the case because teaching involves an educator devoting oneself towards serving the other members of the society through passing information to the potentially uninformed public. The aspect of teaching people can change the manner in which a community looks at things and perceives life. Praying is another way of showcasing communal life. When people come together for prayer sessions, it becomes a uniting factor that keeps them together. Intersession is a way of prayer that can possibly change life in a societal context and hence it also showcases communal life.
St. Teresa was concerned about the way in which people carry themselves at an individual level. In the text, she addresses her community’s attitude towards attachment or desire and embracing a particular attitude towards an individual’s inner self. In this sense, the saint means that as a society, it is essential to have a common belief and way of doing things in order to achieve the common desired objective. For example, if a community is struggling to deal with the vice of corruption, it is upon both the leaders and the majority public to adopt an attitude that is likely to kick out the practice. If there is the willingness among the people that is not supported by the goodwill from the leadership, it becomes difficult to achieve certain goals and objectives. Also, St. Teresa addresses the issue of developing particular attitudes towards one’s inner self. Self-perception and image are of paramount importance in determining an individual’s destiny.2 People with low self-esteem are likely to achieve less in life as compared to those who profoundly believe in themselves. It is the case because self-confidence enables individuals to muster the courage of doing things that cannot be done by the faint-hearted.
St. Teresa talks about the concept of recollection and reflects on the first lines of the Lord’s Prayer. Recollection in the context of spiritual life refers to the presence of God within the soul of a person. It involves the withdrawal of the mind from earthly and external affairs in a bid to attend to divine things and God. It is similar to interior solitude where the soul is alone only with God. St. Teresa here wishes to look into the manner in which people relate to God in a spiritual way. She insinuates that there is that invisible connection between the human race and God. It is true because God created man and it is to Him alone that people owe the gratitude of existence and gift of life. God is omnipresent, and man cannot locate Him physically; in this sense, it is only through the spiritual belief and notion that there is the connection between God and humanity that holds waters. This concept is intertwined with prayer because it is through the faith and communication to God that we appreciate His existence and role in our lives when He answers prayers that we make expecting help from Him alone.
In the text, St. Teresa talks about the ideology of “prayer of quiet” in the context of the subsequent lines of the Lord’s Prayer. “Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come…” St. Teresa brings the concept of the prayer of quiet; it is the experience that God is replying to people’s prayers with the sensation of spiritual rapture. In other words, it is a state of prayer that God sends to people, and they have to be praying in order to receive it; however, there is no guarantee that it is likely to come under certain circumstances.3 In this sense, the prayer of the quiet moment is brought by God and people have to be in prayer so that they can receive it from Him. St. Teresa in this concept intends to emphasize the importance of prayer. She wishes to insist that it is through prayer sessions that God is likely to unleash the “prayer of quiet” moments. It is important to keep praying because it is a vital avenue of communication with God where people present their desires, needs and wants. It is my reflection that people need to be in constant state of prayer for spiritual growth and so that God can look into their needs and wants.
There is the discussion of the sacrament by St. Teresa in the book where she uses it to symbolize her community. According to her teachings, the sacrament is to be observed daily in that it engages both human and divine action and presence. The bread and the wine are vital elements of the sacrament, and they are mysterious avenues of connecting with God. In essence, the sacrament is a way through which people are in touch with God, and it is important for their spiritual nourishment. It is the truth because it is in tandem with the teachings of Jesus Christ, “do this in my remembrance.” We take the sacrament to remember the body of Jesus that was crucified on the cross and the blood that He shed for our sins to be forgiven. It is a deep connection between Christians and God because the latter gave His only son to the world. In the text, St. Teresa also looks into the suffering of Jesus and the fact that it all culminates to his physical sacrifice as symbolized by the sacrament. St. Teresa makes the right connection through associating the suffering of Christ and sacrament because it conforms to the teachings that Jesus instilled in his disciples during the last times with them.
St Teresa, of Avila. Way of Perfection. Whitaker House, 2017.