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2020 (27 September, to be precise) marks the 50th anniversary of St Teresa of Avila being declared the first woman Doctor of the Church. In making this momentous declaration, Pope Paul VI spoke of Teresa as a teacher of the secrets of prayer. Let's celebrate this great occasion by allowing Teresa to share some of her insights into prayer with us. We may find out that prayer is more within our grasp than we anticipated!

“Prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us" (Life, 8:5).

“I’m not asking you now that you think about Him or that you draw out a lot of concepts or make long and subtle reflections with your intellect. I’m not asking you to do anything more than look at Him. . . . Your Spouse never takes His eyes off you" (Way of Perfection, 26:3).

“What I’m trying to point out is that we should see and be present to the One with whom we speak without turning our backs on Him. . . . If people aren’t looking at us when we speak, it doesn’t seem to us that they are listening to what we say. . . . We must get used to delighting in the fact that it isn’t necessary to shout in order to speak to Him" (Way, 29:5).

“All the harm comes from not truly understanding that He is near, but in imagining Him as far away" (Way, 29:5).

“If you speak, strive to remember that the One with whom you are speaking is present within. If you listen, remember that you are going to hear One who is very close to you when He speaks" (Way, 29:7).

“Get used to this practice! Get used to it! See, I know that you can do this; for I suffered for many years from the trial – and it is a very great one – of not being able to quiet the mind in anything. But I know that the Lord does not leave us so abandoned; for if we humbly ask Him for this friendship, He will not deny us. And if we cannot succeed in one year, we will succeed later. Let’s not regret the time that is so well spent" (Way, 29:6).

“However quietly we speak, God is so near that He will hear us. We need no wings to go in search of God, but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us" (Way, 28:2).