Friday, August 21, 2009

The Master Teacher

"He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said, "Lord teach us to pray..." (Lk 11:1) "He said to them, 'When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come..." (Lk 11:2)

St. Teresa of Jesus is well known for her commentary on the 'Our Father' that takes up the latter part of her work The Way of Perfection. In speaking of the 'Lord's Prayer', St. Teresa stresses the importance of this prayer being an act of love and to have the understanding of who this Father of ours is and "who the Master is who taught us this prayer". (Way of Perfection ch 24)

Let's consider how Jesus taught others. "You already know that His Majesty teaches that it be recited in solitude. This is what he always did when he prayed, and not out of any need of his own but for our instruction." (Way of Perfection ch 24)

Our Lord taught His disciples by His words and more importantly by His example. Consider, for example, how He taught others about mercy in the story of the woman caught in adultery and how He never used the word "mercy". He merely demonstrated the virtue in who He was and what He did. (John, chapter 8) When reading and meditating on Sacred Scripture it is good to always keep in mind that the Lord is teaching us something through His speech, actions, inaction or His silence.

St. Therese of Lisieux, in her Story of a Soul, desired a director or teacher such as St. Teresa of Jesus would recommend, that is, a director that has knowledge and virtue. One day a good priest told her, "My child, may Our Lord always be your Superior and your Novice Master". Who other than Jesus could be said to have knowledge and virtue? The saint quickly took Jesus to be her Director and said "it was He who taught me that science hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed to little ones". (Story of a Soul, chapter 7)

Of course we should not forget those who teach us and have the duty to do so; both saints had recourse to this thought. "There is a large difference in teachers; but it is even a greater misfortune if we forget those who teach us her below. Especially, if they are saints and spiritual masters and we are good disciples." (Way of Perfection ch 24) St. Therese was quick to say: "I don't mean by this that I close my soul to my Superiors; far from it, for I tried always to be an open book to them. However, our Mother Prioress, frequently ill, had little time to spend with me." (Story of a Soul, ch 7)

It is wise to seek out and find wise and prudent spiritual people to help us in our spiritual life. But always keep in mind that Jesus is the Master Teacher.


  1. I always wondered what Jesus was writing on the ground in the adulterous woman story. I think he was writing the sins of those who were about to stone her, and that's what made them walk away. He showed them that they were not clean inside either. Of course I don't know this for sure, but it makes sense.

  2. It makes sense. If anyone knew what their sins were it was Jesus. But note too that Jesus said, "Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone". Jesus was the only one among them "without sin" and He did not stone the woman. ~Mercy~

  3. An excellent post- thanks so much.