Summary of The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus

Teresa of Ávila. The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus. 
Edited by Benedict Zimmerman. Translated by David Lewis. 
Fifth Edition. London: Thomas Baker, 1916.
Charity

“I never spoke ill in the slightest degree whatever of any one” (35).

“Let us labour, therefore, always to consider the virtues and the good qualities which we discern in others, and with our own great sins cover our eyes, so that we may see none of their failings. This is one way of doing our work; and though we may not be perfect in it at once, we shall acquire one great virtue—we shall look upon all men as better than ourselves; and we begin to acquire that virtue in this way, by the grace of God, which is necessary in all things—for when we have it not, all our endeavours are in vain—and by imploring Him to give us this virtue; for He never fails us, if we do what we can” (100).

Conformity with God’s Will

“This is our delusion; we do not resign ourselves absolutely to the disposition of our Lord, Who knows best what is for our good” (37).

“The only thing I prayed Him to give me was the grace never to offend Him” (69).

Confidence

We must have great confidence; because it is very necessary for us not to contract our desires, but put our trust in God; for, if we do violence to ourselves by little and little, we shall, though not at once, reach that height which many Saints by His grace have reached. If they had never resolved to desire, and had never by little and little acted upon that resolve, they never could have ascended to so high a state. His Majesty seeks and loves courageous souls; but they must be humble in their ways, and have no confidence in themselves” (94-5).

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Detachment / Abandonment

“He gives His grace to whom He pleases; but much depends on this: he who begins to receive this grace must make a firm resolution to detach himself from all things, and esteem this grace according to reason” (196).

“God gives Himself to those who give up everything for Him” (239). 

“How rich will he be who gave up all his riches for Christ! How honourable will he be who, for His sake, sought no honours whatever, but rather took pleasure in seeing himself abased! How wise he will be who rejoiced when men accounted him as mad!—they did so of Wisdom Itself!” (241)

“Oh, what a blessing it is when our Lord gives light to understand how great is the gain of suffering for Him! This is never understood till we have left all things; for if anybody is attached to any one thing, that is a proof that he sets some value upon it; and if he sets any value upon it, it is painful to be compelled to give it up. In that case, everything is imperfect and lost. The saying is to the purpose here,—he who follows what is lost, is lost himself; and what greater loss, what greater blindness, what greater calamity, can there be than making much of that which is nothing?” (332). 

Eucharist

“Sometimes I have such a vehement longing for Communion; I do not think it can be expressed” (403).

Friendships

For this reason I would advise those who give themselves to prayer, particularly at first, to form friendships and converse familiarly with others who are doing the same thing” (54).

Health

“Satan, too, helps much to make them unmanageable. When he sees us a little anxious about them, he wants nothing more to convince us that our way of life must kill us, and destroy our health; even if we weep, he makes us afraid of blindness. I have passed through this, and therefore I know it; but I know no better sight or better health that we can desire, than the loss of both in such a cause. Being myself so sickly, I was always under constraint, and good for nothing, till I resolved to make no account of my body nor of my health; even now I am worthless enough. But when it pleased God to let me find out this device of Satan, I used to say to the latter, when he suggested to me that I was ruining my health, that my death was of no consequence; when he suggested rest, I replied that I did not want rest, but the Cross… My health has been much better since I have ceased to look after my ease and comforts” (97-8).

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Heaven: Degrees of Glory

“And so I say that if I were asked which I preferred, to endure all the trials of the world until the end of it, and then receive one slight degree of glory additional, or without any suffering of any kind to enter into glory of a slightly lower degree, I would accept—oh, how willingly!—all those trials for one slight degree of fruition in the contemplation of the greatness of God; for I know that he who understands Him best, loves Him and praises Him best. I do not mean that I should not be satisfied, and consider myself to be most blessed, to be in heaven, even if I should be in the lowest place; for as I am one who had that place in hell, it would be a great mercy of our Lord to admit me at all; and may it please His Majesty to bring me thither, and take away His eyes from beholding my grievous sins. What I mean is this,—if it were in my power, even if it cost me everything, and our Lord gave me the grace to endure much affliction, I would not through any fault of mine lose one degree of glory” (365).

Hell

“Some considerable time after our Lord had bestowed upon me the graces I have been describing, and others also of a higher nature, I was one day in prayer when I found myself in a moment, without knowing how, plunged apparently into hell. I understood that it was our Lord’s will I should see the place which the devils kept in readiness for me, and which I had deserved by my sins. It was but a moment, but it seems to me impossible I should ever forget it, even if I were to live many years” (298-9).

“Here it is the soul itself that is tearing itself in pieces. I cannot describe that inward fire or that despair, surpassing all torments and all pain” (300). 

“This vision (of hell) was one of the grandest mercies of our Lord. It has been to me of the greatest service, because it has destroyed my fear of trouble and of the contradiction of the world, and because it has made me strong enough to bear up against them, and to give thanks to our Lord, who has been my Deliverer, as it now seems to me, from such fearful and everlasting pains… also gave me the most vehement desires for the salvation of souls; for certainly I believe that, to save even one from those overwhelming torments, I would most willingly endure many deaths” (301-2).

“No soul should take either rest or pleasure that is liable to fall every moment into mortal sin. Let us, then, for the love of God, avoid all occasions of sin, and our Lord will help us, as He has helped me. May it please His Majesty never to let me out of His hands, lest I should turn back and fall, now that I have seen the place where I must dwell if I do. I entreat our Lord, for His Majesty’s sake, never to permit it. Amen” (302-3).

Holy Water

“I know by frequent experience that there is nothing which puts the devils to flight like holy water. They run away before the sign of the cross also, but they return immediately: great, then, must be the power of holy water. As for me, my soul is conscious of a special and most distinct consolation whenever I take it. Indeed, I feel almost always a certain refreshing, which I cannot describe, together with an inward joy, which comforts my whole soul. This is no fancy, nor a thing which has occurred once only; for it has happened very often, and I have watched it very carefully. I may compare what I feel with that which happens to a person in great heat, and very thirsty, drinking a cup of cold water—his whole being is refreshed. I consider that everything ordained by the Church is very important; and I have a joy in reflecting that the words of the Church are so mighty, that they endow water with power, so that there shall be so great a difference between holy water and water that has never been blessed” (284-5).

Humility

“It is a most certain truth, that the richer we see ourselves to be, confessing at the same time our poverty, the greater will be our progress, and the more real our humility” (73).

“As the foundation of the whole building is humility, the nearer we draw unto God the more this virtue should grow; if it does not, everything is lost. It seems to be a kind of pride when we seek to ascend higher, seeing that God descends so low, when He allows us, being what we are, to draw near unto Him” (90-91).

“Humility must always go before: so that we may know that this strength can come out of no strength of our own” (95).

The whole foundation of prayer must be laid in humility, and that the more a soul humbles itself in prayer, the more God lifts it up” (192). 

True humility is not attended with trouble; it does not disturb the soul; it causes neither obscurity nor aridity: on the contrary, it consoles. It is altogether different, bringing with it calm, sweetness, and light. It is no doubt painful; but, on the other hand, it is consoling, because we see how great is the mercy of our Lord in allowing the soul to have that pain, and how well the soul is occupied. On the one hand, the soul grieves over its offences against God; on the other, His compassion makes it glad. It has light, which makes it ashamed of itself; and it gives I thanks to His Majesty, Who has borne with it so long” (274).

Humiliations before graces: “When our Lord made me remember my wicked life, I wept; for as I considered that I had then never done any good, I thought He might be about to bestow upon me some special grace; because most frequently, when I receive any particular mercy from our Lord, it is when I have been previously greatly humiliated, in order that I may the more clearly see how far I am from deserving it. I think our Lord must do it for that end” (381).

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Locutions

Distinct words that the bodily ear does not hear. Impossible not to understand them: “the divine locution is a voice so clear that not a syllable of its utterance is lost” (216).

“Whereas human locutions produce no effect… When our Lord truly speaks, “it is at once word and work; and though the words may not be meant to stir up our devotion, but are rather words of reproof, they dispose a soul at once, strengthen it, make it tender, give it light, console and calm it; and if it should be in dryness, or in trouble and uneasiness, all is removed, as if by the action of a hand, and even better; for it seems as if our Lord would have the soul understand that He is all-powerful, and that His words are deeds…they make us tremble if they be words of reproof, and die of love if words of love” (215-6, 7).

With divine locutions, “we understand matters which seem to require a month on our part to arrange” (219).

Love

“It is certain that the love of God does not consist in tears, nor in this sweetness and tenderness which we for the most part desire, and with which we console ourselves; but rather in serving Him in justice, fortitude, and humility” (86).

“Whenever we think of Christ, we should remind ourselves of the love that made Him bestow so many graces upon us, and also how great that love is which our Lord God has shown us, in giving us such a pledge of the love He bears us; for love draws forth love. And though we are only at the very beginning, and exceedingly wicked, yet let us always labour to keep this in view, and stir ourselves up to love; for if once our Lord grants us this grace, of having this love imprinted in our hearts, everything will be easy, and we shall do great things in a very short time, and with very little labour. May His Majesty give us that love,—He knows the great need we have of it,—for the sake of that love which He bore us, and of His glorious Son, to whom it cost so much to make it known to us! Amen” (194).

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Perfection

“O my Lord! how Thou dost show Thy power! There is no need to seek reasons for Thy will; for with Thee, against all natural reason, all things are possible: so That thou teachest clearly there is no need of anything but of loving Thee in earnest, and really giving up everything for Thee, in order that Thou, O my Lord, mightest make everything easy. It is well said that Thou feignest to make Thy law difficult: I do not see it, nor do I feel that the way that leadeth unto Thee is narrow. I see it as a royal road, and not a pathway; a road upon which whosoever really enters, travels most securely. No mountain passes and no cliffs are near it: these are the occasions of sin. I call that a pass,—a dangerous pass,—and a narrow road, which has on one side a deep hollow, into which one stumbles, and on the other a precipice, over which they who are careless fall, and are dashed to pieces. He who loves Thee, O my God, travels safely by the open and royal road, far away from the precipice: he has scarcely stumbled at all, when Thou stretchest forth Thy hand to save him. One fall—yea, many falls—if he does but love Thee, and not the things of the world, are not enough to make him perish; he travels in the valley of humility. I cannot understand what it is that makes men afraid of the way of perfection” (342-3). 

Perseverance

May He be blessed for ever!—for I see clearly that He has not omitted to reward me, even in this life, for every one of my good desires. My good works, however wretched and imperfect, have been made better and perfected by Him Who is my Lord: He has rendered them meritorious. As to my evil deeds and my sins, He hid them at once. The eyes of those who saw them He made even blind, and He has blotted them out of their memory. He gilds my faults, makes virtue to shine forth, giving it to me Himself, and compelling me to possess it, as it were, by force” (23-24).

“He showeth great mercy unto him to whom He gives the grace and resolution to strive for this blessing with all his might; for God withholds Himself from no one who perseveres. He will by little and little strengthen that soul, so that it may come forth victorious. I say resolution, because of the multitude of those things which Satan puts before it at first; to keep it back from beginning to travel on this road; for he knoweth what harm will befall him thereby—he will lose not only that soul, but many others also. If he who enters on this road does violence to himself, with the help of God, so as to reach the summit of perfection, such a one, I believe, will never go alone to Heaven; he will always take many with him: God gives to him, as to a good captain, those who shall be of his company” (79-80).

“It is much to be observed, and I say so because I know by experience, that the soul which begins to walk in the way of mental prayer with resolution, and is determined not to care much, neither to rejoice nor to be greatly afflicted, whether sweetness and tenderness fail it, or our Lord grants them, has already travelled a great part of the road” (85).

“I began to be converted, though I did not cease to offend our Lord all at once; however, as I had not lost my way, I walked on in it, though slowly, falling and rising again; and he who does not cease to walk and press onwards, arrives at last, even if late. To lose one’s way is—so it seems to me—nothing else but the giving up of prayer. God, of His mercy, keeps us from this!” (156)

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Pleasure

“The soul sees how blind men are to the nature of pleasure—how by means of it they provide for themselves trouble and disquietude even in this life. What restlessness! how little satisfaction! what labour in vain!” (175)

Poverty

“Yet, when I returned to my prayer, and saw Christ on the Cross, so poor and destitute, I could not bear to be rich, and I implored Him with tears so to order matters that I might be poor as He was” (337).

Prayer: Presence of Christ

“This practice of the presence of Christ is profitable in all states of prayer, and is a most safe way of advancing in the first state, and of attaining quickly to the second; and as for the last states, it secures us against those risks which the devil may occasion” (90).

“This vision seems to me very profitable to recollected persons, to teach them to look upon our Lord as being in the innermost part of their soul. It is a method of looking upon Him which penetrates us more thoroughly, and is much more fruitful than that of looking upon Him as external to us, as I have said elsewhere, and as it is laid down in books on prayer, where they speak of where we are to seek God. The glorious St. Augustine, in particular, says so, when he says that neither in the streets of the city, nor in pleasures, nor in any place whatever where he sought Him, did he find Him as he found Him within himself. This is clearly the best way; we need not go up to heaven, nor any further than our own selves, for that would only distress the spirit and distract the soul, and bring but little fruit” (409-410).

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Prayer: Meditation

During all this time (18 years being unable to meditate), it was only after Communion that I ever ventured to begin my prayer without a book—my soul was as much afraid to pray without one, as if it had to fight against a host” (22).

“He who gives himself to prayer is in possession of a great blessing, of which many saintly and good men have written—I am speaking of mental prayer—glory be to God for it!” (59).

** “Mental prayer is nothing else, in my opinion, but being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing in secret with Him Who, we know, loves us” (60). **

“Let him never cease from prayer who has once begun it, be his life ever so wicked; for prayer is the way to amend it, and without prayer such amendment will be much more difficult. Let him not be tempted by Satan, as I was, to give it up, on the pretence of humility; let him rather believe that His words are true Who says that, if we truly repent, and resolve never to offend Him, He will take us into His favour again, give us the graces He gave us before, and occasionally even greater, if our repentance deserve it. And as to him who has not begun to pray, I implore him by the love of our Lord not to deprive himself of so great a good” (59).

Use a book to meditate when you are easily distracted: “for if the will have nothing to occupy it, and if love have no present object to rest on, the soul is without support and without employment—its isolation and dryness occasion great pain, and the thoughts assail it most grievously”  (22).

Recommends frequently meditating on the Passion: “This is an admirable method—not omitting, however, from time to time, the Passion and Life of Christ, the Source of all good that ever came, and that ever shall come” (102).

“If he is able, let him employ himself in looking upon Christ, who is looking upon him; let him accompany Him, and make his petitions to Him; let him humble himself, and delight himself in Christ, and keep in mind that he never deserved to be there. When he shall be able to do this, though it may be in the beginning of his prayer, he will find great advantage; and this way of prayer brings great advantages with it—at least so my soul has found it” (106-7).

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Prayer Development: Garden Analogy

“A beginner must look upon himself as making a garden, wherein our Lord may take His delight, but in a soil unfruitful, and abounding in weeds. His Majesty roots up the weeds, and has to plant good herbs. Let us, then, take for granted that this is already done when a soul is determined to give itself to prayer, and has begun the practice of it. We have, then, as good gardeners, by the help of God, to see that the plants grow, to water them carefully, that they may not die, but produce blossoms, which shall send forth much fragrance, refreshing to our Lord, so that He may come often for His pleasure into this garden, and delight Himself in the midst of these virtues” (80-81).

The 4 degrees of prayer can be compared to the 4 ways in which a garden can be watered:

Prayer Development: Garden Analogy: #1 – Water taken out of a well

Beginners in prayer. Very laborious in keeping the senses recollected (being so used to distractions). “They must strive to meditate on the life of Christ” (82). We, like good gardeners, do what we can to water the flowers (drawing up the bucket out of the well) – God provides the water: “God grant there may be water in it!” (82). If the well is dry – “perhaps for our greater good”, God will preserve the flowers without water and makes our virtues grow. We must rejoice and consider it a great favour to labour in God’s garden and seek to please Him by resolutely carrying our cross. Detach yourself from seeking any joys or sweetness in prayer.

Prayer Development: Garden Analogy: #2 – Water raised by an engine and buckets

“whereby the gardener may draw more water with less labour, and be able to take some rest without being continually at work” (107). “Herein the soul begins to be recollected; it is now touching on the supernatural—for it never could by any efforts of its own attain to this” (107). “The will alone is occupied” (107) but not altogether absorbed. The other two faculties (memory and understanding) can help or hinder the will. In this stage, you experience great consolations, long periods of prayer, increased heroic virtues, loss of desire for earthly things. The soul does not understand the graces God is bestowing upon it nor does it know what to do with itself. Many souls attain this state but few go further (our fault, not Gods). “The prayer of quiet, then, is a little spark of the true love of Himself, which our Lord begins to enkindle in the soul; and His will is, that the soul should understand what this love is by the joy it brings” (117). When you receive the prayer of quiet, “be gentle and without noise (meditation)” (118)… “let it repose in its rest—let learning be put on one side” (120).

Prayer Development: Garden Analogy: #3 – Water by a stream or brook

“whereby the garden is watered with very much less trouble, although there is some in directing the water” (126). The Lord will be the Gardener Himself, doing all the work. “The faculties are almost all completely in union, yet not so absorbed that they do not act” (128). The will is in union. The understanding and the memory are free. The soul can live both the active and contemplative life at once. Pleasures, sweetness, delight, and virtues are incomparably greater than in the second stage… “It is a glorious folly, a heavenly madness, wherein true wisdom is acquired” (127). “This my soul longs to be free—eating is killing it, and sleep is wearisome” (130).

Prayer Development: Garden Analogy: #4 – Water by rain

Our Lord, after observing all out efforts to seek and please Him, “so now it is His pleasure to reward it, even in this life. And what a reward!—one moment is enough to repay all the possible trials of this life” (144). All the senses are occupied. Incomparably greater joy in the soul. In this life, it’s impossible for the water to pour continually down from heaven. The soul grows far greater in all the virtues, especially in humility. Caution to avoid bing careless or else the garden will be ruined.

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Prayer: Discouragement

“I repeat it, let no one who has begun to give himself to prayer be discouraged, and say: If I fall into sin, it will be worse for me if I go on now with the practice of prayer. I think so too, if he gives up prayer, and does not correct his evil ways; but if he does not give up prayer, let him be assured of this—prayer will bring him to the haven of light” (151).

“This could not have been, neither was it, anything else but to throw myself down into hell; there was no need of any devils to drag me thither. O my God, was there ever blindness so great as this? How well Satan prepares his measures for his purpose, when he pursues us in this way! The traitor knows that he has already lost that soul which perseveres in prayer, and that every fall which he can bring about helps it, by the goodness of God, to make greater progress in His service. Satan has some interest in this” (151).

Prayer; Rapture

A rapture “is absolutely irresistible… It comes, in general, as a shock, quick and sharp, before you can collect your thoughts, or help yourself in any way, and you see and feel it as a cloud, or a strong eagle rising upwards, and carrying you away on its wings” (161)… “during the rapture itself the body is very often as if it were dead, perfectly powerless” (169)… “The soul will do nothing but the will of our Lord…all it seeks is to do everything for His glory, and according to His will” (172-3).

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Prayer: Sacred Humanity

Never depart from Jesus’ sacred Humanity, even if you were to reach the highest contemplation. For one, it is a lack of humility for our souls to try to rise high before our Lord raises it: “we must not be self-invited guests” (190).

“I had been all my life long so devout to the Sacred Humanity” (186).

“I wish I could have His picture and image always before my eyes, since I cannot have Him graven in my soul as deeply as I wish” (187).

“He helps, He strengthens, He never fails, He is the true Friend. I see clearly, and since then have always seen, that if we are to please God, and if He is to give us His great graces, everything must pass through the hands of His most Sacred Humanity, in whom His Majesty said that He is well pleased. I know this by repeated experience: our Lord has told it me. I have seen clearly that this is the door by which we are to enter, if we would have His supreme Majesty reveal to us His great secrets” (188-9).

“seek no other way, even if you were arrived at the highest contemplation. This way is safe. Our Lord is He by whom all good things come to us; He will teach you. Consider His life; that is the best example” (189).

“It is a great matter for us to have our Lord before us as Man while we are living and in the flesh” (190). 

“In general, our thoughts must have something to rest on” (191).

“I have had this vision (of the sacred Humanity of Christ) on three other occasions, and it is, I think, the highest of all the visions which our Lord in His mercy showed me. The fruits of it are the very greatest, for it seems to purify the soul in a wonderful way, and destroy, as it were utterly, altogether the strength of our sensual nature. It is a grand flame of fire, which seems to burn up and annihilate all the desires of this life. For though now—glory be to God!—I had no desires after vanities, I saw clearly in the vision how all things are vanity and how hollow are all the dignities of earth; it was a great lesson, teaching me to raise up my desires to the Truth alone. It impresses on the soul a sense of the presence of God such as I cannot in any way describe, only it is very different from that which it is in our own power to acquire on earth. It fills the soul with profound astonishment at its own daring, and at any one else being able to dare to offend His most awful Majesty” (382).

Prayer: Years Spent in Prayer

“We think we may measure our progress by the years which we have given to the exercise of prayer; we even think we can prescribe limits to Him who bestows His gifts not by measure when He wills, and who in six months can give to one more than to another in many years… our Lord gives to whom He will, particularly to him who is best disposed” (395).

“If any spiritual person thinks, because he has given himself to prayer for many years, that he deserves any spiritual consolations, I am sure he will never attain to spiritual perfection… we should forget the number of years we have been praying, because all that we can do is utterly worthless in comparison with one drop of blood out of those which our Lord shed for us” (399-400). 

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Purpose of writing:

“My object in writing—the first is to obey—is to inspire souls with a longing after so high a good” (143).

Reading

“Reading is of great service towards procuring recollection in any one who proceeds in this way; and it is even necessary for him, however little it may be that he reads, if only as a substitute for the mental prayer which is beyond his reach” (22).

“With a book to help me—it was like a companion, and a shield whereon to receive the blows of many thoughts—I found comfort, for it was not usual with me to be in aridity; but I always was so when I had no book; for my soul was disturbed, and my thoughts wandered at once. With one, I began to collect my thoughts, and, using it as a decoy, kept my soul in peace, very frequently by merely opening a book—there was no necessity for more. Sometimes I read but little, at other times much—according as our Lord had pity on me” (23).

“I was extremely fond of reading good books” (35).

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Self-Knowledge

“Although this matter of self-knowledge must never be put aside—for there is no soul so great a giant on this road but has frequent need to turn back, and be again an infant at the breast; and this must never be forgotten. I shall repeat it, perhaps, many times, because of its great importance—for among all the states of prayer, however high they may be, there is not one in which it is not often necessary to go back to the beginning. The knowledge of our sins, and of our own selves, is the bread which we have to eat with all the meats, however delicate they may be, in the way of prayer; without this bread, life cannot be sustained, though it must be taken by measure. When a soul beholds itself resigned, and clearly understands that there is no goodness in it—when it feels itself abashed in the presence of so great a King, and sees how little it pays of the great debt it owes Him—why should it be necessary for it to waste its time on this subject? Why should it not rather proceed to other matters which our Lord places before it, and for neglecting which there is no reason? His Majesty surely knows better than we do what kind of food is proper for us” (102-3).

Spiritual Director

“He who begins is in need of instruction, whereby he may ascertain what profits him most. For this end it is very necessary he should have a director, who ought to be a person of experience; for if he be not, he will make many mistakes, and direct a soul without understanding its ways, or suffering it to understand them itself; for such a soul, knowing that obedience to a director is highly meritorious, dares not transgress the commandments it receives. I have met with souls cramped and tormented, because he who directed them had no experience: that made me sorry for them. Some of them knew not what to do with themselves; for directors who do not understand the spirit of their penitents afflict them soul and body, and hinder their progress” (102).

“So, then, it is of great consequence that the director should be prudent—I mean, of sound understandings—and a man of experience. If, in addition to this, he is a learned man, it is a very great matter. But if these three qualities cannot be had together, the first two are the most important, because learned men may be found with whom we can communicate when it is necessary. I mean, that for beginners learned men are of little use, if they are not men of prayer. I do not say that they are to have nothing to do with learned men, because a spirituality, the foundations of which are not resting on the truth, I would rather were not accompanied with prayer. Learning is a great thing, for it teaches us who know so little, and enlightens us; so when we have come to the knowledge of the truths contained in the holy writings, we do what we ought to do” (103).

“Though learning does not seem necessary for discretion, my opinion has always been, and will be, that every Christian should continue to be guided by a learned director if he can, and the more learned the better. They who walk in the way of prayer have the greater need of learning; and the more spiritual they are, the greater is that need” (104).

St. Joseph

“I took for my patron and lord the glorious St. Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him.  I saw clearly that both out of this my present trouble, and out of others of greater importance, relating to my honour and the loss of my soul, this my father and lord delivered me, and rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for. I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favours which God hath given me through this blessed Saint; the dangers from which he hath delivered me, both of body and of soul. To other Saints our Lord seems to have given grace to succour men in some special necessity; but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, to help us in all: and our Lord would have us understand that, as He was Himself subject to him upon earth—for St. Joseph, having the title of father, and being His guardian, could command Him—so now in heaven He performs all his petitions” (37).

“Would that I could persuade all men to be devout to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God. I have never known any one who was really devout to him, and who honoured him by particular services, who did not visibly grow more and more in virtue; for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him. It is now some years since I have always on his feast asked him for something, and I always have it. If the petition be in any way amiss, he directs it aright for my greater good” (38).

“But I ask, for the love of God, that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself—when he will see, by experience, the great good that results from commending oneself to this glorious patriarch, and being devout to him. Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner have always a devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of the angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the infant Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the services he rendered them then. He who cannot find any one to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious Saint for his master, and he will not wander out of the way” (39).

“Once when I was in one of my difficulties, not knowing what to do, unable to pay the workmen, St. Joseph, my true father and lord, appeared to me, and gave me to understand that money would not be wanting, and I must hire the workmen” (317). 

“She [Our Lady] said that I pleased her very much by being devout to the glorious St. Joseph” (319).

Image result for st teresa of avila st joseph

Suffering

St. Teresa was brought near death many times, a paralytic for almost 3 years after. Learned great patience during this time and conformity to the will of God.

“Oh, what a blessing it is when our Lord gives light to understand how great is the gain of suffering for Him!” (332).

“When I was thus distressed, our Lord appeared unto me. He comforted me greatly, and told me I must do this for His love, and bear it; my life was necessary now. And so, I believe, I have never known real pain since I resolved to serve my Lord and my Consoler with all my strength; for though He would leave me to suffer a little, yet He would console me in such a way that I am doing nothing when I long for troubles. And it seems to me there is nothing worth living for but this, and suffering is what I most heartily pray to God for. I say to Him sometimes, with my whole heart: “O Lord, either to die or to suffer! I ask of Thee nothing else for myself” (416).

Image result for st teresa of avila suffering

Temptations

Satan can propose a false humility for beginners: “But it is necessary we should understand what manner of humility this should be, because Satan, I believe, does great harm; for he hinders those who begin to pray from going onwards, by suggesting to them false notions of humility. He makes them think it is pride to have large desires, to wish to imitate the Saints, and to long for martyrdom” (95-6). St. Teresa recommends that “we must see what those actions are which we are to admire, and what those are which we are to imitate” (96).

Trying to force others to be spiritual also: “There is another temptation, which is very common; when people begin to have pleasure in the rest and the fruit of prayer, they will have everybody else be very spiritual also” (98)… doing it in the wrong manner. 

Misguided zeal for virtue: In which you immediately seek to remedy the evil found in others failings, thus being disturbed and not praying yourself (98).

Venial sins

“I was on my guard against mortal sin—and would to God I had always been so!—but I was careless about venial sins, and that was my ruin” (21).

“May it please His Majesty that we fear Him whom we ought to fear, and understand that one venial sin can do us more harm than all hell together; for that is the truth” (226).

 

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