Photo: St. Teresa of Avila, mystic, founder of the Discalced Carmelites, and the first female declared a doctor of the church, is depicted in a church in Troyes, France. (CNS/Crosiers)

Vatican City (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a message to Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, whose feast day is celebrated October 15. In his letter, Pope Francis mentions the joy the saint often spoke of “in encountering the suffering of work and pain,” and how she affirmed that “the Gospel is not a bag of lead that trails heavily behind us, but rather a source of joy that leads the heart to God and urges us to serve our brethren. ”

Pope Francis wrote that St. Teresa emphasised the importance of cheerful perseverance and prayer. For her, contemplative prayer was “a close sharing between friends; … taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.” The Pope added that this advice is “perennially valid.”

“In a culture of the temporary, to live faithfully ‘forever and ever and ever;’ in a world without hope, to show the fruitfulness of an enamoured heart; and in a society with many idols, to give witness that ‘only God is enough,” he said is a path we cannot walk alone; we must do so together and, as the Saint said, with Christ. Teresa of Jesus recommended these things, the Pope said: “to love each other, to free each other, to free oneself of everything, and to aspire to true humility.”

“It is this Teresian realism that demands works instead of emotions, love in the place of dreams, and the realism of humble love instead of eager asceticism.” He concluded, “Let us hope that everyone may be infused by this holy impulse to travel the roads of our own time, with the Gospel in our hand and the Spirit in our heart!”