Pope Paul VI on St. Teresa of Jesus as Doctor of the Church


 From an address by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, at the Vatican, Sunday, September 27th, 1970 concerning conferring the title of Doctor of the Church on St. Teresa of Jesus:

“We have now conferred-rather, We have acknowledged Saint Teresa of Jesus’ title of Doctor of the Church…The meaning of this act is very clear. It is deliberately intended to be enlightening…the light of the title shows up on Teresa unquestionable values which have already been fully acknowledged to her…St. Teresa of Avila’s doctrine shines with charisms of truth, of conformity to the Catholic faith and of usefulness for the instruction of souls. And We might mention another particular point, the charism of wisdom. This makes Us think of the most attractive and at the same time most mysterious aspect of Saint Teresa’s title of Doctor: the flow of divine inspiration in this prodigious and mystical writer. From where did the wealth of her doctrine come to Teresa…from her response to grace; received in a soul that was extraordinarily rich and well prepared for the practice and experience of prayer…We are undoubtedly before a soul in which extraordinary divine initiative was active, and was perceived and described by Teresa simply, faithfully, stupendously.”

(The Holy Father then speaks of different aspects of her mystical life, and then focuses on what he terms the “most comprehensive of all”):

“It is love…it is a love which we must finally describe as an espousal, for it is an encounter with a flood of divine love, descending to meet human love, which strives with all its might to ascend. It is the most intimate and the strongest union with God which is given to a soul living on this earth to experience. It turns into light, it turns into wisdom, wisdom in divine things, wisdom in human things.”

(He also recounts how the heart of her message is prayer, and then very wonderfully summarizes how significant and important her message of prayer is in our current state of affairs):

“It comes to us just when we are tempted by the great noise and the great business of the world outside to yield to the frenzy of modern life and to lose the real treasures of our souls in the effort to win the seductive treasure of the earth. It comes to us children of our own time just when we are losing not only the habit of conversing with God but also the sense of the need and the duty to worship and call on him…We have taken care to see that, having adorned with this title of Master, she may have a more authoritative mission to perform…her perennial, ever present message-the message of prayer.”