15 October: Feast of St Teresa of Avila – What Can We Learn From Her Life?

15 October: Feast of St Teresa of Avila – What Can We Learn From Her Life?

StTeresaGodAloneSufficesIn the Autobiography which she completed towards the end of her life, Saint Teresa of Avila gives us a description of her parents, along with a disparaging estimate of her own character. “The possession of virtuous parents who lived in the fear of God, together with those favors which I received from his Divine Majesty, might have made me good, if I had not been so very wicked.” A heavy consciousness of sin was prevalent in sixteenth-century Spain, and we can readily discount this avowal of guilt. What we are told of Teresa’s early life does not sound in the least wicked, but it is plain that she was an unusually active, imaginative, and sensitive child. Her parents, Don Alfonso Sanchez de Capeda and Dona Beatriz Davila y Ahumada, his second wife, were people of position in Avila, a city of Old Castile, where Teresa was born on March 28, 1515. There were nine children of this marriage, of whom Teresa was the third, and three children of her father’s first marriage.   

Piously reared as she was, Teresa became completely fascinated by stories of the saints and martyrs, as was her brother Roderigo, who was near her own age and her partner in youthful adventures. Once, when Teresa was seven, they made a plan to run away to Africa, where they might be beheaded by the infidel Moors and so achieve martyrdom. They set out secretly, expecting to beg their way like the poor friars, but had gone only a short distance from home when they were met by an uncle and brought back to their anxious mother, who had sent servants into the streets to search for them. She and her brother now thought they would like to become hermits, and tried to build themselves little cells from stones they found in the garden. Thus we see that religious thoughts and influences dominated the mind of the future saint in childhood.

Teresa was only fourteen when her mother died, and she later wrote of her sorrow in these words: “As soon as I began to understand how great a loss I had sustained by losing her, I was very much afflicted; and so I went before an image of our Blessed Lady and besought her with many tears that she would vouchsafe to be my mother.” Visits from a girl cousin were most welcome at this time, but they had the effect of stimulating her interest in superficial things. Reading tales of chivalry was one of their diversions, and Teresa even tried to write romantic stories. “These tales,” she says in her Autobiography, “did not fail to cool my good desires, and were the cause of my falling insensibly into other defects. I was so enchanted that I could not be happy without some new tale in my hands. I began to imitate the fashions, to enjoy being well dressed, to take great care of my hands, to use perfumes, and wear all the vain ornaments which my position in the world allowed.” Noting this sudden change in his daughter’s personality, Teresa’s father decided to place her in a convent of Augustinian nuns in Avila, where other young women of her class were being educated. This action made Teresa aware that her danger had been greater than she knew. After a year and a half in the convent she fell ill with what seems to have been a malignant type of malaria, and Don Alfonso brought her home. After recovering, she went to stay with her eldest sister, who had married and gone to live in the country. Then she visited an uncle, Peter Sanchez de Capeda, a very sober and pious man. At home once more, and fearing that an uncongenial marriage would be forced upon her, she began to deliberate whether or not she should undertake the religious life. Reading the <Letters of St. Jerome>,[1] helped her to reach a decision. St. Jerome’s realism and ardor were akin to her own Castilian spirit, with its mixture of the practical and the idealistic. She now announced to her father her desire to become a nun, but he withheld consent, saying that after his death she might do as she pleased.   Click here to read more


It’s easy to write off St Teresa of Avila as a “role model” for religious only, and contemplative religious at that. Yet, the story of her life contains lessons on all sorts of levels, applicable to all of us, priests, religious and lay people. What, then, does she teach us? The importance of prayer, certainly, but what, precisely do we learn from her about prayer, and what other lessons can we draw from her life? 

Comments (51)

  • editor

    I tried to find “St Teresa’s bookmark” on YouTube but all the versions available are set to a different tune from the one I know, and most of the words are modernised (you instead of thee, frighten instead of affright) presumably to fit the tunes. Pity, because the tune I was taught is very simple and very beautiful. Mind you, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve imagined all the tunes I was taught in my youth since so few of them are on YouTube! Anyway, below are the words as I was taught to sing them. The central Carmelite message is found here – that nothing should disturb our souls, since everything with which we have to deal day and daily, all the problems, annoyances, disappointments, whatever it is that we suffer will pass away; God alone endures forever, and so we must strive to become detached from everything and everyone in this world: God alone suffices. That’s the main teaching that I take from the life of St Teresa of Avila.

    St Teresa’s Bookmark…

    Let nothing trouble thee,
    Or ere afright thee;
    All things, all things pass away…
    When you are troubled in any way,
    Just remember, all things pass away.

    God never changes,
    Like you and me;
    He always has been,
    Always will be;
    God alone suffices,
    He alone suffices,
    To fill our hearts,
    Throughout eternity

    Let nothing trouble thee (repeat verse)

    Happy Feast of St Teresa to one and all!

    October 15, 2015 at 1:17 am
  • Lily

    I read that whole article on St Teresa of Avila and she was a really wonderful woman.

    I noticed lots of lessons from her life but I especially liked the bit where it says she had ” intelligence, warmth, and charm” because these are human characteristics and show that someone like her, who even had visions and ecstasies, was also just a very nice and intelligent person. Keeping grounded is something I’ve learned from her life.

    I’m going to read the article again because I know she was an expert on prayer and I find prayer very difficult, I’m so easily distracted all the time. I will read it again to see if I can work out what she did that made her love prayer so much. I confess to praying more as a duty than anything else, so any tips I can get from her will be great.

    October 15, 2015 at 10:30 am
    • Lily

      Happy Feast day to all CT bloggers!

      October 15, 2015 at 10:31 am
      • Nicky

        Happy Feast of St Teresa of Avila to everyone. She’s a great saint and an example of a strong woman leader who was around well before the feminist movement!

        October 15, 2015 at 3:46 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      I think everyone finds prayer difficult and we all get distracted, I’m sure. St Teresa has special graces in that way, but she was very sensible about it and wouldn’t get uptight about distractions, just shake them off and refocus. The excerpt from her book The Interior Castle is saying you can’t really pray properly without penance first, to mortify the body, then you won’t be so distracted.

      October 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm
  • Christina

    I must admit that I find it very difficult to understand St. Teresa’s own autobiography, even where she is writing of the very early stages of the contemplative life. I have to think there’s something wrong with me when I just don’t ‘get it’. However there are consoling bits taken in isolation. For example, some of us who go pubbing and clubbing occasionally might be pleased with this: ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

    ‘In the early stages (of contemplative prayer), then, one should try to be cheerful and not strained; for there are people who think that devotion is ruined if they relax for a moment’.

    One of the nuns who taught me expressed it more succinctly, often reminding us that ‘A sad saint is a bad saint’.

    St. Teresa continues from the above with some very useful advice for us in this day and age, particularly when we think of the corruption in the Church that has spread like wildfire since the windows were flung open on the world:

    ‘It is well to feel distrust for oneself, and not to allow self-confidence to lead one into situations which habitually cause one to sin against God. This is a most necessary precaution until we become confirmed in virtue, since there are not many who are so perfect that they can be careless in situations dangerous to their own particular natures’.

    There are two things that I always wonder about when I read about the lives of saints, particularly St Teresa and other mystics. 1. A spiritual director is absolutely essential to the development of their spiritual lives. How do we manage? Confessions are available for a short time before Mass, and, as a priest told me, the busy confessional is not the place for spiritual direction. I wouldn’t be so bold as to ask “Well, when IS the time?” 2. Why is it that most mystics are women?

    October 15, 2015 at 12:03 pm
    • editor


      That’s a terrific post – unfortunately I’m just home from being out and going out again – but not pubbing and clubbing, I regret to say (!) so I won’t pick up on anything just yet. I came in to post the following Notice, regarding Traditional Masses and other events taking place in the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish Balornock… The parish priest there was one of the first in Glasgow to learn the TLM under the terms of Summorum Pontificum. I meant to post the entire notice earlier in the week, so apologies for my tardiness. Below is the edited version, applicable from today’s date:

      N O T I C E . . .

      There is a Latin Mass on Thursday (15 October) at 6.15pm, and on Saturday at 12 noon (monthly Solemn High Mass)

      October devotions this week … Friday at 7pm.

      Monthly St. Peregrine mass, novena, anointing with St. Peregrine oil, veneration of his relic, Monday 19th October at 7pm.

      Children’s angels and saints party with procession and litany of the saints beforehand – Saturday 31st October at 6.45pm. Children are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite/patron saint.

      DVD film show about the apparitions of our Lady at Quito Ecuador this Sunday at 7.30pm, devotions and benediction at 6.30pm, buffet supper at 7.15pm.

      October 15, 2015 at 1:34 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      “A sad saint is a bad saint” – LOL!

      About spiritual directors – I don’t like the idea of a SD. It’s ok for religious but not for lay people who live busy lives in the world. I can’t see how it would work.

      October 15, 2015 at 3:42 pm
    • Nicky


      I don’t know that “most mystics are women” – what is the proof?

      I wouldn’t have any problem believing it, just that I never thought of that before and didn’t know it so if it’s a fact, I’d like to be able to quote it – it would annoy my feminist pals who think the Church has always persecuted and belittled women!

      October 15, 2015 at 3:48 pm
      • Christina

        How I hate it when I’m asked for ‘proof’ of something that just surfaced from that pile of stuff learnt over the years that I think I know but can’t remember where from!!! Sorry, Nicky, I’m away from home and can’t go looking, but I have a feeling I read it in the introduction to the life of one of the great women mystics.

        I’d love to help to annoy your feminist pals, but I think you’d find they’d have some answer to do with male oppression herding them into convents where they had no proper work to do for the Church (such as being priests) and so they passed their useless time by becoming, well, mystics!!๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡๐Ÿ˜‡

        October 15, 2015 at 6:41 pm
      • editor


        “How I hate it when Iโ€™m asked for โ€˜proofโ€™ of something…”

        I know the feeling. Happens to me all the time when I’m trying to pass myself off as a 29 year old. Why can’t people just take my word for it? ๐Ÿ˜€

        October 15, 2015 at 11:58 pm
      • Vianney

        Editor, maybe if you wore a burka you could pass for 29! Lol.

        October 16, 2015 at 10:16 pm
      • editor


        You must admit, I do suit pink…


        October 16, 2015 at 11:55 pm
      • Frankier

        The last time I saw an outfit like this was on a “gay” elephant.

        October 17, 2015 at 2:10 pm
      • spudeater


        That’s one of your best but considering the thick skin Ed. has to have on occasion, I’d liken her more to a hippo.

        October 17, 2015 at 5:40 pm
      • editor

        Spudeater and Frankier,

        Watch it, you too! A gal can only take so much, you know. Unless it’s chocolate, of course, then the galaxy’s the limit, so to speak!

        October 17, 2015 at 7:28 pm
      • Christina

        Frankier, ROFL! And what is the trunk thing for? Perhaps it’s to prevent the sisters from lifting up the more usual kind of burka face piece for a quick fag, as I saw a couple of them doing a while ago!

        October 18, 2015 at 12:39 am
      • Frankier


        I think it’s for sniffing cocaine when you are out pubbing and clubbing.

        October 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm
      • Nicky

        That is a really beautiful shade of pink. On a serious note, for a moment, if I may, and apologise for taking us off topic, but I presumed the burkas had to be black, although I’ve seen blue ones, but never pink or other colours. That really is a gorgeous shade of pink.

        October 17, 2015 at 11:06 pm
      • spudeater


        I think the picture must have been taken on Gaudete Sunday.

        October 18, 2015 at 10:42 am
      • Nicky


        I understand, and there are plenty of things I talk about without knowing the source of the information I spout, so forget I asked. You’re probably right about the feminists not being satisfied anyway and just blaming the male oppression thing for forcing saints like Teresa of Avila to become mystics – LOL!

        October 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm
  • Michaela

    St Teresa’s writings are very difficult, I agree, but I love her sense of humour. She was a very down to earth person. Loved the article from EWTN.

    October 17, 2015 at 11:01 am
    • spudeater

      Speaking of St.Teresa’s sense of humour, she met St. John of the Cross (who was only 5 feet tall) and a fellow Carmelite while in town one day and exclaimed, “Aha! Now here we have a monk and a half!”

      October 17, 2015 at 8:28 pm
      • Lily

        LOL ! St Teresa had a great sense of humour. I was told by a friend that when her spiritual director asked how she would deal with a Sister who told her she was having visions, St Teresa said she would give her an omelette and send her to bed! LOL!

        October 17, 2015 at 10:26 pm
  • editor

    Further to the Notice above advertising the High Mass in the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Balornock, Glasgow today, at noon, I went along and it was absolutely beautiful. Everything was beautiful. There were three diocesan priests in the sanctuary and a lovely choir. There is a High Mass now every month, I’ve discovered, so I will post a notice on the lead thread to remind everyone in good time, every month.

    There are also Masses in the Immaculate Heart on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6.15pm and on Wednesdays at 12.30pm. I try to go along, at least on Wednesdays, but I didn’t make it this week. However, since it was the October week holiday from school, my niece decided to go and took her 2 years old (and a half!) toddler and her nine years old son plus a friend (and her 9 years old son) who attends the novus ordo but is very concerned about the state of the Church. This was the lady’s first TLM and she described it as “wonderful”. And, like my niece, she was bowled over by the kindness of the people she met there. My niece’s toddler tends towards the lively end of the personality types, but when she apologised afterwards for any distraction caused, she was shooed away and told not to be silly – “she’s only a toddler, for goodness sake!” was the general response. One of the men decided to play at chasing her (baby, not mother!) all over the hall and had to be brought to heel by the others who pointed out that mum is trying to train the baby to be well behaved in church. They had a great laugh at the gentleman’s disappointment, to say nothing of the toddler’s shock at having to be quiet and demure again!

    The priest provides a little lunch after the Wednesday Mass which was most welcomed by my niece and her friend – having taken two buses to get there and heading for another two buses to get home, the delicious home-made soup and other food was very welcome indeed. Which is how they both felt – made to feel very welcome indeed, and on hearing her enthusiasm, I decided to mention it here to encourage those of us who are free to attend the Immaculate Heart week-day Masses, to do so. Remember, Bishop Fellay exhorted everyone to support those priests who learn the old rite Mass following Summorum Pontificum, and as they try to encourage parishioners to attend, it’s a real charity for those of us already familiar with the old rite, to go along when possible, even if we are regulars in the SSPX chapels at the present time, as well. I’d urge as many as possible of us to go along to the Immaculate Heart Masses – there is a cast iron guarantee of a lovely, warm welcome from the parishioners there, be assured.

    And just in case you all think the baby got all the attention – not so! My 9 years old Great Nephew (Anthony) was invited by the priest to serve while he conducted a little ceremony of blessing various sacramentals. Anthony was delighted – he already serves Mass in the Glasgow SSPX chapel, so was very pleased to extend his “repertoire”!

    At the moment, Father doesn’t offer a TLM on Sundays, but I would imagine that that will change in the not so far distant future. Pray for him and for the other Summorum Pontificum priests – there are more and more who are learning the TLM, and with the state of things right now – tragically – set to worsen post-Synod, there are likely to be more and more lay people turning to the priests who offer the traditional Mass.

    Finally, a reminder that in the Immaculate Heart, Balornock tomorrow night, Sunday, there is devotions and benediction at 6.30pm, followed by a buffet supper at 7.15pm.Thereafter, Father will be showing a DVD about the apparitions of our Lady at Quito Ecuador at 7.30pm, All welcome.

    October 17, 2015 at 6:55 pm
    • Helen

      Well, I’m glad you enjoyed the experience which is not my cousin’s experience at St. Andrew’s SSPX Masses in Glasgow. She said some people were absolutely hostile to children making any noise. Completely intolerant. Their own children, if they had any, must have been angels! I’ll tell them about the Immaculate Heart Church.

      My, you must be legging it having a great nephew!!

      October 17, 2015 at 7:59 pm
      • Lily


        I’ve heard from a lot of people that the SSPX congregations are very divided, right across Britain. There is quite a lot of unpleasantness, so I would tell your cousin not to take it personally, as they do have a reputation for expecting children to be perfect, even babies – LOL! That’s not just in Glasgow but in Britain generally. Edinburgh’s not so bad, as there’s just one man there, I hear, who tuts and sighs if a child is playing up, but nobody pays any attention to him. The people who have told me this still stick with the Society because they respected the Archbishop Lefebvre so much. It’s sad but I think it’s due to them being the only place to go for the Latin Mass before Summorum, and so anybody wanting to go to the old Mass had to go to them. Now there’s more choice.

        October 17, 2015 at 10:40 pm
      • Nicky

        Maybe those people in the British traditional chapels could learn this from St Teresa of Avila “Be gentle to all and stern with yourself.”

        I think she is a marvellous saint. I know what the others mean when they say her books are difficult to read but you always get something out of them. It’s a while since I read the Interior Castle, or rather tried to read it (LOL!) and I can’t remember too much, but you get a sense of the transcendent from her, IMHO.

        October 17, 2015 at 11:01 pm
      • editor

        Here are some of my own favourite quotes from St Teresa of Avila…

        1) “God alone suffices…” (see St Teresa’s Bookmark top of thread)

        2) โ€œIt is love alone that gives worth to all thingsโ€

        3) โ€œAccustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.โ€

        4) โ€œPain is never permanent.โ€

        5) โ€œTo have courage for whatever comes in life โ€“ everything lies in that.โ€

        6) โ€œWhat a great favour God does to those He places in the company of good people!โ€

        Out of that lot, my favourite is number 6 – would love to learn which one(s) others like.

        However, shock horror, there is one quote attributed to St Teresa that I do NOT like – it’s this one: There are more tears shed over answered prayers, than unanswered prayers.”

        I don’t get that – if anyone else can explain it, hey presto, please do!

        Now, I’ve had one of them there days and am already late for the pubs and clubs, so I will head off into town and talk again tomorrow, at which time I will catch up properly with the threads, although, like the Consecration of Russia, it will be late – another busy schedule tomorrow. Still, hang on in there… I will be back!

        October 17, 2015 at 11:29 pm
      • morgana

        I don’t agree at all with Helen or lily I remember very clearly a sspx priest making very clear he could not contend with a child who was being overly noisy he stopped until the mother took the child out I don’t see anything wrong with this at all and I am a mother and as soon as my children became noisy I had them out right away not because off any busybody in the congregation but out of due respect for the priest.Surely people stuck with the sspx because the Archbishop was preserving the faith and not because it was there only option.If I am off topic apologies.

        October 18, 2015 at 12:26 am
      • Therese

        I tend to agree with you, Morgana. I don’t expect babies and toddlers to be perfectly behaved, or silent, during Mass, but it is annoying and disrespectful both to the priest and to the congregation when parents don’t have the nous to take a noisy child out during the sermon. If someone is being overly sensitive to children during Mass then that is uncharitable – it’s difficult enough keeping children focused and reasonably quiet during Mass, and my sympathies are with parents who are struggling to cope with the duties and trials of parenthood when dealing with exuberant and active children, but it is equally uncharitable to expect the priest and the entire congregation to tolerate one’s little darling’s noise. It’s simply a matter of removing them when necessary, both to soothe and distract the child, and to allow the majority to hear what the priest has to say. I see parents doing this all the time, and it’s much appreciated. I don’t understand why a few people have to make such a drama out of it.

        Now, with Editor’s permission*, one verse of “Bind us Together, Lord”.

        * Yeah, like that’s going to happen….

        October 18, 2015 at 3:51 pm
      • editor

        Therese, and Morgana,

        I don’t know any parents who neglect to take their children out of Mass when they become noisy. In fact, my own niece, when she first met the priest, a former District Superior for the UK, at one of the Catholic Truth conferences, said she would continue to attend the NO until her then 4 year old eldest son was older and she could be sure that he would behave. Father said not to do that, to bring him and just take him out and bring him back in/out as often as necessary. She decided then to make the switch. That son was actually never a problem. Her 10 year old daughter was never a problem. Then she had another son, not a problem, although a bit fidgety. Now her 2.1/2 year old daughter has been causing a bit of distraction, not every week, by any means, and that despite lots of preparation during the week before Mass, so she’s had to take the baby out and bring her back in, as originally suggested by the District Superior all those years ago. But that’s not good enough for some – one critic told me that it is irritating to him when she goes out/in and then out again later! She really cannot win – so, my sympathy is with the parents. Frankly, in their place, I would just stay at home, cite the CCC as justifying my staying at home to take care of an infant, and return when she was around 16. What am I saying? I’ve taught A Level students who can’t sit still – lapsation is really the only way forward! As one novus ordo priest said to me only yesterday, if we want young families attending Mass, then we must be prepared to put up with some naughtiness from the younger children..

        Happily, our priests also understand the problem and have told the above young mother to ignore the critics, continue with what she is doing and not to lose any sleep over it. I paraphrase, but you’ll get my drift.

        Now, I do not want this subject to continue as it is off topic and may become acrimonious. It’s so beyond my understanding that this bothers people, that I dislike discussing it. It’s something I just cannot understand. I sit beside my 2 year old baby niece in the pew, help a little with her, follow the Mass in my missal, say all the necessary prayers, including preparation for Communion and a short thanksgiving afterwards, all without losing my peace of soul, so I can only suggest that those who find it a problem, pray for the great grace of recollection.

        I’ll be away from my computer for the next few hours so I trust that you will comply with my request not to prolong this topic which can become unpleasant, as I know from past experience. I will add only this final comment, because it is not mine, but comes from a young mother who once DID lose sleep over the hostility towards her when she was doing her best to teach her children about the Mass and who always took them out if they misbehaved. She said: “I’ve met Catholics from the FSSP Masses. I’ve met Catholics who attend the SP Masses, and I’ve met traditional leaning Catholics who attend the novus ordo and I’m sorry to say that all of them are nicer people that those who attend the SSPX chapel I’ve attended.” Sobering thought.

        Now, whether or not we agree with her, is neither here nor there, (especially since, certainly in the case of the chapel I attend, to the best of my knowledge, the critics are a tiny minority) but the fact that one parent thinks that, indicates at least one parent’s experience, and thus should be sufficient for us to make more of an effort to offer up any distractions, and perhaps to pray to the Guardian Angels of the children in the congregation, for all the graces they need to become faithful Catholics. Much more productive, surely, than indulging in personal criticism of their parents, no matter how much we believe it to be deserved.

        Am disappearing now – don’t all cheer at once ๐Ÿ˜€

        October 18, 2015 at 4:37 pm
      • morgana

        That’s fair enough editor you don’t want to discuss it any further but I do find it very interesting that you should repeat the conversation by the mum who found every other church had nicer people than the sspx and you on occasion have mentioned that the sspx are far from perfect including the clergy so I guess my question is Why do you attend .Is it because you are doing your duty for God which the answer should be or is it just all about whether there are nice people at your church and if anyone make a remark that doesn’t toe the party line then they must be horrible people.The sspx are no better and most definitely are no worse with regards to congregation than any other church.

        October 18, 2015 at 10:34 pm
      • morgana

        I should have said words as she didn’t have a conversation with you personally I presume.

        October 18, 2015 at 10:38 pm
      • editor


        I always encourage people to attend the SSPX chapel, but not without warning them not to expect perfection. Nowhere is perfect, as I’m sure you will agree, but when people come to what are billed as “traditional” chapels, they tend to expect a very high standard of behaviour from the adults, and that is not always on sale! I don’t know where you attend Mass and you may be blessed with a wonderful congregation. That is not the case everywhere, and it’s wiser, I feel to make sure that nobody comes to the Society with false expectations. Otherwise, they may not stay! Nobody has said that those attending the SSPX are “horrible” – that’s not what I said or implied.

        The young mother in question said what she said very sadly and with regret. She attends the SSPX and thinks very highly of the priests. She can’t help it if her experience is that other lay Catholics are, generally, kinder and more pleasant “as people” than many she’s encountered in the Society. Doesn’t mean they are perfect either or that she thinks the members of her own congregation are all “horrible”. Those are non-sequiturs. Perhaps I shouldn’t have quoted her words – but I did so with the intention of helping us all to be more aware of the fact that it is all very well talking about keeping the faith and avoiding becoming polluted by “the modern church” etc but the work of the Society would be much more effective if all who come into contact with it could say “See these Christians, how they love one another” instead of, as I’ve heard people say (including priests) “Those traditional congregations are very divided”. The people who have said that to me were giving me information – they were not responding to anything I’d said but I have been forced to agree, pointing out that, nonetheless, without the SSPX there wouldn’t be any FSSP or SP Masses etc. I do, of course, value the Society – but that doesn’t mean I have to pretend it’s perfect. I doubt if Bishop Fellay thinks it’s perfect!

        Finally, I am always puzzled when someone asks me why I attend the Society, or why I became a teacher, or why I did this or that, if I offer any criticism, no matter how well intentioned and constructive. The implication is, if you become a teacher, you must accept that everything in education is perfect; if you attend the Society Masses, you must think everything in the SSPX is perfect – or don’t come. Doesn’t make sense.

        Anyway, please leave it there as I’m sure if we were talking face to face instead of writing here, we would probably agree more than disagree. Always wise, Morgana, if you want to move up the pay scale!

        October 18, 2015 at 11:47 pm
      • morgana

        You say it yourself without the sspx we wouldn’t have had the traditional mass so the implication is not acceptance that everything is perfect its about having the most beautiful off all things the mass .Does it really matter that everyone who attends the society do not participate in the old pals act .In general you don’t like everybody around you and as church is for God and not a social event I don’t understand why there has to be a problem .If you don’t like or don’t wish to have conversation with others as long as uncharitableness doesn’t play a part I see nothing wrong with that .That off course is my view just as the young mother above but it is only one experience off many just as my thought on the matter is only one off many .So that as they say is now end of discussion.

        October 19, 2015 at 9:26 am
      • editor


        I really cannot make it any clearer. Nobody expects everybody to be perfect. I’ve said that half a dozen times, but not being perfect, and driving young families away (as I’m told hundreds have been over the years) due to ridiculous expectations of young children, are two quite different things.

        If you don’t see that as a problem, so be it. Now this is completely off topic and I will not respond to any more comments on it. If you are determined to defend the indefensible and want the last word, then I will allow that post to stand and simply ignore your contempt for my request, as blog administrator, to let the matter rest.

        However, any further off topic posts will be deleted as soon as I see them, and as specified in our terms and conditions – see About Us section, top of this page.

        October 19, 2015 at 10:26 am
      • editor

        I’ve got FIVE great nephews in all, our Helen. I know it’s hard to believe, at 29,but there you have it – or, to put it another way, and pretty threateningly, at that … you’d better believe it ๐Ÿ˜€

        I saw your crack about my age/great nephews after signing off for the evening, and just couldn’t resist showing off – five great nephews, not just the one. Eat your heart out!

        NOW, I’m off pubbing and clubbing!

        October 17, 2015 at 11:38 pm
    • Christina

      I am delighted to read this enthusiastic post, Ed, for several reasons. Firstly because it is good to hear that such a Mass is available north of the border – to the south of it we seem to have been more fortunate than you over the years. Secondly it may lay to rest the carping that has sometimes appeared on this blog at the mention of SP Masses – warnings not to go because one might pick up unsavoury stuff in the porch or because the priest also says the new Mass. Thirdly it is so good to read such a positive ‘write-up’ about the sublime normative form of our Roman rite. Again bloggers have been known to say they prefer low Mass, for various reasons, failing to understand that the more beautiful the ceremonial, the more glory is given to God, and that low Mass was born of necessity where the required number of priests, servers, a competent MC and choir were unavailable. I hope these priests are well supported. As you suggest, the saintly Archbishop must be looking down from heaven with great approval. Hint, hint – I’m currently in Edinburgh and would love to go, but I can’t drive in the dark!! ๐Ÿ˜ข ๐Ÿ˜ข

      October 18, 2015 at 12:17 pm
      • Christina

        And forget the hint. My satnav landed me in deep trouble in the middle of Edinburgh today as I was trying to get to SS Margaret and Leonard for Mass. Having tried to send me up a no entry street it put me into the middle of a place where only trams and buses are supposed to be!!! Sorry to be off topic but I haven’t been to Mass and I’m frazzled!!๐Ÿ˜ฌ

        October 18, 2015 at 2:51 pm
      • crofterlady

        Christina, driving in Edinburgh can be a nightmare. When we attend SS Margaret and Leonard for Mass, we park the car somewhere and either take a bus or a taxi. It’s well worth it I assure you.

        October 18, 2015 at 6:26 pm
      • Christina

        Thanks Crofter Lady. I’ll take that excellent advice next Sunday!

        October 18, 2015 at 11:03 pm
      • Vianney

        Christina, Edinburgh has the best bus service in the UK, if not Europe, so leave the car at home and let the bus do the work. If you let me know where about in Edinburgh you are I’ll let you know what bus to get.

        October 19, 2015 at 11:34 pm
      • editor

        “Best bus service in the UK” – and probably the most expensive tram service in the world: least said, soonest mended, eh, Vianney?

        October 22, 2015 at 10:04 pm
      • Vianney

        Aye, well the tram fiasco was the council’s fault Editor. If they had looked into the firm awarded the contracted they would have seen that they have caused problems everywhere they worked and have been taken to court so many times. As someone pointed out in the Evening News, “if the contract had been awarded to a Dutch firm, not only would it have been finished and up and running on time, but the city would have had tram lines going in every direction.”

        Our buses are the best and that’s official. It has had so many awards and they run (almost) on time with many routes every 10 minutes, and there is a flat fare of ยฃ1.50 no matter the distance. Best value is the ยฃ4.00 day ticket with which you can jump on and off busses all day to your hearts concern. Needless to say, the service isn’t run by First Bus.

        October 23, 2015 at 10:24 am
      • editor


        Re: SP Masses – the concerns expressed (hardly “carping”) about the diocesan influence remain, although in the Immaculate Heart parish I really doubt that it would be much of a problem. Father has an excellent piety stall and, in general, is very traditional so unlikely to be promoting all things diocesan. My own concerns have always been expressed in general terms of concern for families of young children or Catholics who are not too aware of the depth of this crisis, and may pick up an invitation to attend an ecumenical event or some other Vatican II aberration, and presume it’s OK because there is a TLM available in the parish. That sort of thing. I don’t know all of the priests who are offering (or soon to offer – the number is growing) the TLM, but from those I do know, and what I know about the others, I doubt if they will be promoting ecumenism etc.

        I am one of those who prefer the low Mass – but that doesn’t mean I am unable to appreciate the High Mass which I attended on Saturday. It doesn’t always have to be either/or. I certainly do not wish to fall into the category of those whom you describe as “failing to understand that the more beautiful the ceremonial, the more glory is given to God” – I love the simplicity of the low Mass, which is very beautiful indeed, it seems to me, majestic, even, and I have no doubt that each low Mass gives great glory to God, as well as the more ceremonial High Mass. Let’s just hope and pray that the interior disposition of those of us present at Mass, both low or high, also gives great glory to God. I suspect that it is our disposition of soul during Mass, which will be of more account to God than whether we are present at one or the other.

        October 18, 2015 at 4:11 pm
      • Christina

        Yes, I have always found that the many priests I have known who celebrate the true Mass do not have the stuff under discussion in their porches. That is why I have always been saddened to read such concerns expressed (sorry about ‘carping’ – a bit excessive!) as they may have discouraged some from attending and benefitting from these Masses.

        With respect, personal preferences re form of Mass do not affect the fact that the solemn Mass gives more glory to God than does low Mass, and also, very importantly, that the merits of the solemn Mass* as applied to our souls, all other things being equal, are greater than those of a low Mass. To choose to attend a low Mass over a solemn one, because one ‘prefers’ it, might therefore mean choosing the less meritorious for oneself. And, please note that I am here referring, of course, to the extrinsic merits of the Mass, not the intrinsic ones.

        I cannot give links on this device, but no less an authority than Rev. Dr. Nicholas Gihr would make this clear, and Fr. Ripperberger, FSSP has written more recently about the merits of the Mass:-

        ‘Not only the degree of holiness of the Church, but also the nature of the prayers of the Mass and even of it’s whole rite exerts accordingly an influence upon the measure and nature of the fruits of the sacrifice. From what has been said there follow several interesting consequences. Among others, that, on the part of the Church, a High Mass solemnly celebrated has greater value and efficacy than merely a low Mass…At a solemn High Mass the external display is richer and more brilliant than at a low Mass, for at a solemn celebration, the Church, in order to elevate the dignity of the Sacrifice, manifests greater pomp, and God is more glorified thereby’.

        I agree wholeheartedly, and both Gihr and Ripperberger make it clear, that the interior dispositions of those attending a Mass also add to or subtract from the extrinsic merits of the Mass which are applied to our souls, and this is perhaps a better way of expressing it in this context than in terms of ‘giving glory to God’.

        From what others have said on this topic and the original post about the Mass in the Immaculate Heart parish, I assume that the interior dispositions of those who have been uncharitable towards a young child/children and a young mother are principally in mind. Indeed their unkindness subtracts from the extrinsic merits of the Mass, and this affects all who attend, as the merits to be gained from the Mass are reduced for everyone. But remember too that the interior dispositions of those who judge the uncharitable are also adding or subtracting from the self-same merits!

        * There is a lot of confusion about types of Masses. To clarify, we used to have High Mass, Missa Cantata (without deacon and subdeacon) and Low Mass. In 1958, for no reason I comprehend, it was decreed that they should be renamed Solemn Mass, Sung Mass and Low Mass.

        October 18, 2015 at 10:59 pm
      • editor


        I must defer to your obviously much greater knowledge of the merits of the Mass, High Vs Low. I was never taught any of that and although we had a High Mass in the parish where I grew up, I don’t recall any emphasis on attending it in preference to the Low Mass. I note you refer to my “preference” (for the Low Mass) in inverted commas, but that would suggest that I have an option which I don’t. I love the silence and majesty of the low Mass, which I have never thought of as being less pleasing to God, or giving less glory to God, so be assured that I meant in no way to diminish the importance of giving as much glory to God as possible. I didn’t think of the ceremonial in that way, and enjoyed the simplicity of the Low Mass in my ignorance, so I stand corrected on this subject, and thank you for educating me in the matter. In the absence of a regular High Mass, notably on Sundays, I have no option but to attend the Low Mass. My plan is, however, to attend the monthly High Masses in the Immaculate Heart parish, so I hope I can make up for my past negligence in this way.

        I also take your point about “judging the uncharitable” but would point out that there is no real “judging” in the sense that, in the cold light of day, what I feel more than anything is a very real disappointment at the way a small minority of complainants spoil Sunday Mass for mothers who need help and support, not criticism from their fellow church-goers. After my initial (I think justifiable) anger, I experienced a real sense of disappointment more than anything. Anyway, let’s leave it at that, with my renewed and very genuine gratitude for your goodness in educating me about the merits of the High Mass.

        October 18, 2015 at 11:18 pm
  • Therese

    Ha ha, Christina! I was once nearly landed in a bog courtesy of satnav. You’ll receive the grace because you tried your best. I wouldn’t like to be in the satnav’s place come Judgement Day though….

    October 18, 2015 at 3:54 pm
    • Christina

      Grace? I don’t think so. I said some very bad words, especially when I was reversing out of the trams and buses part and noticed the police car behind me! Believe me, this particular satnav won’t last until judgement day.๐Ÿ˜ฌ

      October 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm
      • editor

        That reminds me about my own bad behaviour behind the wheel some years ago, when someone had given me a banner for my car’s back window that read “Don’t follow me follow Christ”.

        I used to get so bad tempered with the various mistakes made by other drivers (!) on the road, and was – shall we say – less than pleasant (I might as well just have left my window rolled down permanently!) that on one occasion, a young male driver passing me after lots of bad driving (from him) and road rage from me (as if ๐Ÿ˜€ ) smiled and pointed to the back of my car. It took me a few minutes to realise that he was basically reminding me that I was supposedly a Christian!

        I removed the banner the minute I got home. After all, religion’s for Sundays, innit? The M8’s atheist… !

        October 19, 2015 at 12:41 pm

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