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St. Teresa of Avila had such great advice for us on how to pray. Her ‘method’ is simple, but profoundly helpful. I’ve noticed that the simple, interior hospitality toward God is the most helpful disposition to cultivate in order to avoid intellectual confusion and ideology that interferes with that sweet communion of the heart.
I love her imagery of having a little fire going within to warm us as we talk together. “A few little straws,” she says, are “of more use for kindling the fire, than any amount of wood” if those straws are laid down with humility.
I concentrated on Teresa’s third step in prayer – the response – and showed how superbly, elegantly perfect it is to insist on this last step whenever we talk about prayer. With that response, our free will grows, and with it our interior freedom. The more free we are, the more capable we are of responding, of acting in freedom, and thus, of loving God and responding to the world as He would. I had written an article for Canticle magazine on St. Teresa’s teaching about prayer, but hadn’t connected that method with an approach to freedom, or creativity.
Later, when I gave the first ‘Triangle Talk,’ I realized how critically necessary it is to carry out a resolution that embodies what Fr. Luigi Giussani calls the ‘judgment with heart in it.’ St. Teresa would have loved that phrase, I think, as her method involves both mind and heart in a way that generates a creative resolution to act.