Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Teresa of Avila ~ Another Kind of Lenten Fasting

Peter Paul Rubens ~ St. Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila wrote, "It is foolish to think we will enter heaven without entering ourselves." Teresa was a reformer of the Carmelite order whose members had grown worldly and lazy. She likely made some enemies directing her sisters to look inside and know themselves truly. It was more comfortable sitting in the parlor entertaining guests for tea all afternoon.

Lent is approaching and yet again we're invited to go with Jesus into the desert. Of course, the desert is inside ourselves, the place where, un-distracted, we are alone with God. And pray God, come Easter, somehow we are better persons, more fully alive as God would have us, more grown up in Christ.

Carmelites fast from food at different times during the liturgical year. But Teresa acknowledges that it's important for her to fast from making herself the important center of everything by going around all day expressing her likes and dislikes. A lot of energy can go into telling everyone I meet what pleases and displeases me. So here are a few possibilities we might consider with Teresa as we prepare to "go inside" with our Lenten fasting.

Fasting from I, I, I, I, I. A certain radio talk show host begins every other sentence with"I".

Fasting from complaining. We are among the most comfortable people on the planet, and yet, if we tune in to ourselves, there's an awful of complaining.

Fasting from so much noise - who can hear God's whisper!
Fasting from so much shopping. One monk says, "In this country it's not the Kingdom come but the thingdom come.

Fasting from having so much to say about everything. It's so common, it's even got a name. It's called bloviating.
Fasting from so many assessments of other people: spouses, siblings, parents, fellow workers, in-laws, maybe even the priest.

Fasting from so many opinions. One woman said of herself, "There's nothing new or original about myself; I'm just opinions."
Fasting from procrastination, making excuses or enabling others.

That's enough - we get the idea. "It is foolish to think we will enter heaven without entering ourselves." But some people never go there; deserts can be scary.


  1. I always feel better when I do something like this during Lent. I become more self aware and do feel like I have examined myself from the inside out. I just wonder why, after all the reflection, that I go back to my old ways of selfishness and judgement?

  2. That's a very right question. Any ideas of your own before I would presume to speak?

  3. I know it is because of laziness on my part. Easter comes and then it is gone and my sacrifice isn't on the forefront of my thoughts. Eventually I fall back into my natural thought processes which are less than perfect. And so it goes.

  4. Well it certainly helps, and is a start, to be able and willing to name it, as you have done here. But the real question is, do I really want to change this? We're often quite content with business as usual. We shouldn't complicate these things: Am I really okay with being lazy? Do I have any felt need to do something about my moodiness, my irritability, my indifference, my selfishness - my laziness? However dutiful we might be in the performance of religious duties and performances, the bottom line is, Do I have a felt need to be different? Felt need. Remember the book: "Im okay; you're okay." That's not Christian. Fact is: I'm NOT okay - and you're NOT okay. Do I have a felt need to change that? Key word: FELT. It comes before sacrifices.