When I was on my yearly silent retreat this summer (this year, at the lovely Benedict Inn at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Ind.), I stopped to peruse their book store. What a treasure trove of Catholic books I found there! There were so many about St. Benedict and his “rule” that I’d searched for at our library system and beyond to no avail and many new ones I would have loved to devour. But one book stood out — the woman who manages the Inn pointed it out to me as new to the bookstore: “The Four Teresas” by Gina Loehr. That was the one I decided to buy.
During my discernment of who should be my confirmation saint, I quickly felt called toward St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. And I had a hard time initially deciding between the two. But many signs pointing me toward St. Therese and the realization that she was named for St. Teresa of Avila (thus, I was sort of choosing them both), helped me chose The Little Flower. Also, in my readings over the last year, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross’s story of complete and utter sacrifice touched me. I’ve always been interested in Mother Teresa and her amazing dedication to the poor even before my interest in Catholicism.
So, it turns out this book is focused on these four Teresas. I was hooked! I knew I had to read it.
I zipped through this one in just a few days. It’s very easy to read and offers a wonderful breakdown of each Teresa. Loehr tells you each one’s story and shows you how they are alike and very different. What I really enjoyed was at the end of each Teresa’s story, she adds sections on questions for reflection, 10 ways to be more like that saint, and points for consideration that direct you back toward yourself.
I dog eared each of these sections and made a list for myself of the “ways” I wanted to incorporate into my own life to be more like each Teresa.
In each saint’s story, I find a part of myself or something I’d like to imitate:
- St. Teresa of Avila’s amazing dedication and ability to pray and meditate intrigues me. I am working to be able to be completely and utterly with God in the classroom of silence.
- St. Therese of Lisieux is a wonderful model of how to make your entire life, every tiny thing, every simple action, every small sacrifice, a prayer to God.
- St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was an intellectual who was able to merge her knowledge and learning with the spiritual. I, too, am an eternal learner and it was “reason” which stopped me from knowing the Lord for so long. I have learned, as did she, that God is the ultimate fulfillment of reason!
- Blessed Mother Teresa is someone I’d love to emulate. I cannot fathom how she was so giving of herself to the poorest of the poor and how she gave her life entirely and wholely to that mission. I also admire that she acknowledges many years of spiritual darkness yet you never saw her without a smile and no one ever suspected such a thing. I could use a big dose of all of this!
I highly recommend this book as inspirational as well as practical in how to make your own life more holy in the image of these wonderful St. Teresas! Thanks for writing it Gina Loehr!
If you’re interested here’s a video with the author talking about writing the book: