Lent Madness: Theresa of Avila vs. Bartholomew

Lent Madness continues with Theresa of Avila taking on Bartholomew. To check on where the bracket stands go here: Lent Madness 2010. Yesterday Aelred routed Anskar 62% to 37%. And there’s still time to cast your vote for Isaac Watts vs. Enmegabowh (they’re currently running neck and neck).

Theresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, and writer on the contemplative life. Her seminal spiritual work was The Interior Castle. Her mystic writings describe four stages of spiritual ascent: mental prayer, prayer of quiet, union of devotion, and devotion of ecstasy or rapture. About contemplative prayer she wrote, Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.”

Early on in her time in the cloister she experienced a debilitating illness that included periods of religious ecstacy. She became firmly convinced that Jesus had visited her in bodily form. This vision informed much of the rest of her life as she sought to imitate the suffering of Jesus. Hence her motto: “Lord, either let me suffer or die.”

Not just a mystic, Theresa was also an ardent monastic reformer. She founded up to 17 convents and inspired many others. Her last words were: “My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O My Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another.”

A Collect for Theresa of Avila: O God, who by your Holy Spirit moved Teresa of Avila to manifest to your Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we pray, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a keen and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Bartholomew was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, being listed by name in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). According to the Acts of the Apostles he was also present at the Ascension of Jesus. Beyond this, very little is known about the life of Bartholomew. Adding to the mystery, in the synoptics Bartholomew is always listed in connection with Philip. In John’s gospel, Philip is always mentioned in connection with Nathanael. But John doesn’t mention Bartholomew by name.

Tradition holds that following the Ascension, Bartholomew first went on a missionary trip to India and then joined Jude to bring Christianity to Armenia. He and Jude are considered the patron saints of the Armenian Church.

After his death (he is said to have been crucified upside down), Bartholomew’s bones were reported as relics in a variety of places. If you go to Canterbury Cathedral, you can apparently venerate one of his arms.

A Collect for Bartholomew: Almighty and everlasting God, who gave to your apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach your Word: Grant that your Church may love what he believed and preach what he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



4 Comments on “Lent Madness: Theresa of Avila vs. Bartholomew”

  1. Oh, great. Now I wake up in the morning way too interested in Lent Madness. I really think I should NOT be sitting in front of a screen yelling, “Go Theresa” and mumbling “Are you kidding?” about other so-called contenders.

  2. Susan Walsh says:

    Theresa is also reported to have said of God, “If this is the way you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few!” How can you NOT admire someone who had that kind of relationship with the Lord?

  3. Pixie Melfi says:

    I’m with you Meredith…”Go Theresa” …“Each of us has a soul, but we forget to value it. We don’t remember that we are creatures made in the image of God. We don’t understand the great secrets hidden inside of us.” ~Theresa of Avila~

  4. Tam Hernandez says:

    Yes, Susan, it’s my favorite quote of hers. You can just see her with the rain dripping! And I see she has many fans!

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