St. Teresa of Avila: Prayers to Saint Joseph
“Would that I could persuade all men to be devoted to this glorious Saint [St. Joseph], for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known anyone who was truly devoted to him and honored him by particular services who did not advance greatly in virtue: for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him. It is now very many years since I began asking him for something on his feast, and I have always received it. If the petition was in any way amiss, he rectified it for my greater good . . .
” I ask for the love of God that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself—then he will find out by experience the great good that results from commending oneself to this glorious Patriarch and in being devoted to him.”
O blessed Joseph, faithful guardian of my Redeemer, Jesus Christ, protector
of thy chaste spouse, the virgin Mother of God, I choose thee this day to
be my special patron and advocate and I firmly resolve to honor thee all
the days of my life. Therefore I humbly beseech thee to receive me as thy
client, to instruct me in every doubt, to comfort me in every affliction,
to obtain for me and for all the knowledge and love of the Heart of Jesus,
and finally to defend and protect me at the hour of my death. Amen
“I know by experience,” says St. Teresa of Avila, “that the glorious St. Joseph assists us generally in all necessities. I never asked him for anything which he did not obtain for me.”
The absolute poverty of the new monastery, established in 1562 and named St. Joseph’s (San José), at first excited a scandal among the citizens and authorities of Ávila, and the little house with its chapel was in peril of suppression; but powerful patrons, including the bishop himself, as well as the impression of well-secured subsistence and prosperity, turned animosity into applause.
In March 1563, when Teresa moved to the new cloister, she received the papal sanction to her prime principle of absolute poverty and renunciation of property, which she proceeded to formulate into a “Constitution”. Her plan was the revival of the earlier, stricter rules, supplemented by new regulations such as the three disciplines of ceremonial flagellation prescribed for the divine service every week, and the discalceation of the nun. For the first five years, Teresa remained in pious seclusion, engaged in writing.
A wealthy woman of Toledo, Countess Louise de la Cerda, happened at the time to be mourning the recent death of her husband, and asked the Carmelite provincial to order Teresa, whose goodness she had heard praised, to come to her. Teresa was accordingly sent to the woman, and stayed with her for six months, using a part of the time, at the request of Father Ibanez, to write, and to develop further her ideas for the convent. While at Toledo she met Maria of Jesus, of the Carmelite convent at Granada, who had had revelations concerning a reform of the order, and this meeting strengthened Teresa’s own desires. Back in Avila, on the very evening of her arrival, the Pope’s letter authorizing the new reformed convent was brought to her. Teresa’s adherents now persuaded the bishop of Avila to concur, and the convent, dedicated to St. Joseph, was quietly opened. On St. Bartholomew’s day, 1562 the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the little chapel, and four novices took the habit.
St.Theresa of Avila and her cure
Her father realizing it must be God’s will, finally consented to Teresa’s vocation, and became a benefactor of the monastery. A year later, Teresa was professed, and she began to practice harsh penances and mortifications. Soon she became quite ill again, and left the convent in search of a cure for her mysterious illness. She eventually went back home to Avila and her father’s house. Here she fell into a coma for 4 days, and all thought that she had died. She eventually came out of the coma, but was paralyzed and bedridden for 3 years. She was finally cured, and she attributed her cure to St. Joseph.