As I sat in the aircraft next to Mother Angelica, waiting for take off, I turned to her, and doing little to conceal my excitement, said, “After we have done the business side of things could we drive over to you-know-where to see you-know-who?” She nodded a yes with a smile, and I sat back in my seat closing my eyes in blissful anticipation.
The where, was Avila, and the who was St. Teresa of Avila, one of my most favourite saints!
Mother Angelica, Sister Raphael, Sister Margaret Mary, and myself were on leg two of our trip. Mother had spoken at Westminster hall in London, and now we were on our way to Madrid, Spain.
At home in Alabama, we were in the midst of building the monastery in Hanceville, and the reredos and many other items were being made by the company in Spain that we were on our way to visit, to check on the progress of everything. Avila was only an hour or two away.
As exciting as it was going to be to see all the wonderful things being made for our new monastery, I was even more overjoyed at the prospect of going to Avila, the birthplace of St. Teresa.
We were in Madrid for three days, we finished our business, and on the morning of day three, we were set to drive to Avila.
And then disaster struck: Mother Angelica began to feel unwell. We had been on a pretty grueling schedule, and her asthma was now acting up. She said that we should still try to go to Avila, (even in her discomfort, she hated to disappoint us) but her suggestion was met with one of our own: she should rest for the next day’s flight, and we should cancel the trip to Avila.
Fortunately, after a good day’s rest, Rev. Mother felt better the next morning , and we were able to fly back to the States.
So near and yet so far; we had almost made it to Avila!
As I sat in the plane I prayed, Well St. Teresa we did our best to come see you! As I prayed, I remembered another Teresa, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who once said, “If you want to make God to laugh, tell Him your plans.” Even though I was rather disappointed, I smiled thinking of that quote.
We arrived home, feeling pretty bedraggled. It had been a good, but none the less tiring, trip.
I trudged back to my cell (bedroom), and as I opened the door, my bleary eyes looked over to my chair, on which had been placed a few pieces of mail which had come in while I was gone.
Sitting next to the mail was a small package, neatly tied in brown paper and string. Even in my exhaustion, I was curious. I walked over and picked up the package, looking at the name of the sender, whom I did not recognize. I began to unwrap it, and as I did so, a note fell out.
It read: Dear Sr. Grace Marie, you don’t know me, but in one of the monastery’s past newsletters I remember reading about the different saints that each sister loves, and I remember one of your particular saints being the great St. Teresa of Avila.
She went on to say that lately, whenever she prayed, she got the distinct feeling that St. Teresa wanted me to have the enclosed item. As I finished reading the note, I looked quickly down into the little box, pushing away the tissue paper that surrounded: a first class relic of St. Teresa of Avila!
I stood there for a moment, transfixed in disbelieving joy, taking it all in.
She had come to see me! I had not been able to go to see her, but she had come to me!
I had in the past, heard it said that very often, even though we think that we are the ones who choose particular saints for our friends, it’s really the other way around, they choose us! I think that’s very likely true!
We all need help on our journey towards heaven, as Tobit had the wonderful Archangel Raphael, sent by God to accompany him. So it is that the saints accompany us.
I love what St. Paul says in Hebrews 12:1: Therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.
So great a cloud of witnesses, our friends the saints, are urging us on.
St. Teresa, whose wonderful sense of humor comes through again and again in her writings, says that sometimes life can be like a night at a bad inn. But it is also true to say that when we have friends to accompany us along the road of life, when we have those wonderful companions the saints, praying and interceding for us, it somehow doesn’t seem quite so bad.
St. Teresa pray for us!