Teresa of Ávila: Wikis

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Saint Teresa of Ávila
Teresa of Ávila by Peter Paul Rubens
Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Born March 28, 1515, Gotarrendura (Ávila), Old Castile, Kingdom of Spain
Died October 4, 1582 (aged 67)[1], Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, Kingdom of Spain
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Lutheran Church[2][3]
Anglican Communion
Beatified April 24, 1614, Rome by Pope Paul V
Canonized March 12, 1622, Rome by Pope Gregory XV
Major shrine Convent of the Annunciation, Alba de Tormes, Spain
Feast October 15
Attributes habit of the Discalced Carmelites, Book and Quill, arrow-pierced heart
Patronage bodily ills; headaches; lacemakers; laceworkers; loss of parents; people in need of grace; people in religious orders; people ridiculed for their piety; Pozega, Croatia; sick people; sickness; Spain

Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, (March 28, 1515, at Gotarrendura (Ávila), Old Castile, Spain – October 4, 1582, at Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, Spain) was a prominent Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, and writer of the Counter Reformation. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. In 1970 she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

Contents

Early life

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in 1515 in Gotarrendura, in the province of Ávila, Spain. Her paternal grandfather, Juan de Toledo, was a marrano (Jewish convert to Christianity) and was condemned by the Spanish Inquisition for allegedly returning to the Jewish faith. Her father, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda, bought a knighthood and successfully assimilated into Christian society. Teresa's mother, Beatriz, was especially keen to raise her daughter as a pious Christian. Teresa was fascinated by accounts of the lives of the saints, and ran away from home at age seven with her brother Rodrigo to find martyrdom among the Moors. Her uncle stopped them as he was returning to the city, having spotted the two outside the city walls.

Leaving her father's home secretly at the age of 20, Teresa entered the convent of the Incarnation of the Carmelites outside Ávila.[4] In the cloister, she suffered greatly from illness. Early in her sickness, she experienced periods of religious ecstasy through the use of the devotional book "Tercer abecedario espiritual," translated as the Third Spiritual Alphabet (published in 1527 and written by Francisco de Osuna). This work, following the example of similar writings of medieval mystics, consisted of directions for examinations of conscience and for spiritual self-concentration and inner contemplation (known in mystical nomenclature as oratio recollectionis or oratio mentalis). She also employed other mystical ascetic works such as the Tractatus de oratione et meditatione of Saint Peter of Alcantara, and perhaps many of those upon which Saint Ignatius of Loyola based his Spiritual Exercises and possibly the Spiritual Exercises themselves.

The Ecstasy of St Teresa by Bernini, basilica of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.

She claimed that during her illness she rose from the lowest stage, "recollection", to the "devotions of silence" or even to the "devotions of ecstasy", which was one of perfect union with God. During this final stage, she said she frequently experienced a rich "blessing of tears." As the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin became clear to her, she says she came to understand the awful terror of sin and the inherent nature of original sin. She also became conscious of her own natural impotence in confronting sin, and the necessity of absolute subjection to God.

Around 1556, various friends suggested that her newfound knowledge was diabolical, not divine. She began to inflict various tortures and mortifications of the flesh upon herself. But her confessor, the Jesuit Saint Francis Borgia, reassured her of the divine inspiration of her thoughts. On St. Peter's Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ presented himself to her in bodily form, though invisible. These visions of Jesus Christ lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, a seraph[5]drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily pain.

I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it...

This vision was the inspiration for one of Bernini's most famous works, the Ecstasy of St Theresa at Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

The memory of this episode served as an inspiration throughout the rest of her life, and motivated her life-long imitation of the life and suffering of Jesus, epitomized in the motto usually associated with her: Lord, either let me suffer or let me die.

Activities as reformer

The incentive to give outward practical expression to her inward motive was inspired in Teresa by the Franciscan priest Saint Peter of Alcantara who became acquainted with her as Founder early in 1560, and became her spiritual guide and counsellor. She now resolved to found a reformed Carmelite convent, correcting the laxity which she had found in the Cloister of the Incarnation and others. Guimara de Ulloa, a woman of wealth and a friend, supplied the funds. Teresa worked for many years encouraging the forcibly converted Jews of Spain to follow Christianity.

The absolute poverty of the new monastery, established in 1562 and named St. Joseph's, 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.

Church window at the Convent of St Teresa.

In 1567, she received a patent from the Carmelite general, Rubeo de Ravenna, to establish new houses of her order, and in this effort and later visitations she made long journeys through nearly all the provinces of Spain. Of these she gives a description in her "Libro de las Fundaciones." Between 1567 and 1571, reform convents were established at Medina del Campo, Malagon, Valladolid, Toledo, Pastrana, Salamanca, and Alba de Tormes.

As part of her original patent, Teresa was given permission to set up two houses for men who wished to adopt the reforms; she convinced John of the Cross and Anthony of Jesus to help with this. They founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelite Brethren in November 1568 at Duruello. Another friend, Gerónimo Grecian, Carmelite visitator of the older observance of Andalusia and apostolic commissioner, and later provincial of the Teresian reforms, gave her powerful support in founding convents at Segovia (1571), Beas de Segura (1574), Seville (1575), and Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia, 1576), while the deeply mystical John, by his power as teacher and preacher, promoted the inner life of the movement.

In 1576 a series of persecutions began on the part of the older observant Carmelite order against Teresa, her friends, and her reforms. Pursuant to a body of resolutions adopted at the general chapter at Piacenza, the "definitors" of the order forbade all further founding of convents. The general condemned her to voluntary retirement to one of her institutions. She obeyed and chose St. Joseph's at Toledo. Her friends and subordinates were subjected to greater trials.

Teresa of Ávila by François Gérard (1770−1837), a French painter

Finally, after several years her pleadings by letter with King Philip II of Spain secured relief. As a result, in 1579, the processes before the inquisition against her, Grecian, and others were dropped, and the extension of the reform was at least negatively permuted. A brief of Pope Gregory XIII allowed a special provincial for the younger branch of the discalceate nuns, and a royal rescript created a protective board of four assessors for the reform.

During the last three years of her life, Teresa founded convents at Villanueva de la Jara in northern Andalusia (1580), Palencia (1580), Soria (1581), Burgos, and Granada (1582). In total seventeen convents, all but one founded by her, and as many men's cloisters were due to her reform activity of twenty years.

Her final illness overtook her on one of her journeys from Burgos to Alba de Tormes. She died in 1582, just as Catholic nations were making the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which required the removal of October 5–14 from the calendar. She died either before midnight of October 4 or early in the morning of October 15, which is celebrated as her feast day.

Forty years after her death, she was canonized, in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV. The Cortes exalted her to patroness of Spain in 1617, and the University of Salamanca previously conferred the title Doctor ecclesiae with a diploma. The title is Latin for Doctor of the Church, but is distinct from the papal honor of Doctor of the Church, which is always conferred posthumously and was finally bestowed upon her by Pope Paul VI in 1970 along with Saint Catherine of Siena making them the first women to be awarded the distinction. Teresa is revered as the Doctor of Prayer. The mysticism in her works exerted a formative influence upon many theologians of the following centuries, such as Francis of Sales, Fénelon, and the Port-Royalists.

Mysticism

"It is love alone that gives worth to all things." - St. Theresa of Avila

The kernel of Teresa's mystical thought throughout all her writings is the ascent of the soul in four stages (The Autobiography Chs. 10-22):

The first, or "mental prayer", is that of devout contemplation or concentration, the withdrawal of the soul from without and specially the devout observance of the passion of Christ and penitence (Autobiography 11.20).

The second is the "prayer of quiet", in which at least the human will is lost in that of God by virtue of a charismatic, supernatural state given of God, while the other faculties, such as memory, reason, and imagination, are not yet secure from worldly distraction. While a partial distraction is due to outer performances such as repetition of prayers and writing down spiritual things, yet the prevailing state is one of quietude (Autobiography 14.1).

The "devotion of union" is not only a supernatural but an essentially ecstatic state. Here there is also an absorption of the reason in God, and only the memory and imagination are left to ramble. This state is characterized by a blissful peace, a sweet slumber of at least the higher soul faculties, a conscious rapture in the love of God.

The fourth is the "devotion of ecstasy or rapture," a passive state, in which the consciousness of being in the body disappears (2 Corinthians 12:2-3). Sense activity ceases; memory and imagination are also absorbed in God or intoxicated. Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, a complete impotence and unconsciousness, and a spell of strangulation, intermitted sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space. This after half an hour is followed by a reactionary relaxation of a few hours in a swoon-like weakness, attended by a negation of all the faculties in the union with God. From this the subject awakens in tears; it is the climax of mystical experience, productive of the trance. (Indeed, she was said to have been observed levitating during Mass on more than one occasion.)

Teresa is one of the foremost writers on mental prayer, and her position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject she deals with her personal experiences, which a deep insight and analytical gifts enabled her to explain clearly. Her definition was used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us."[6]

Writings

Teresa's writings, produced for didactic purposes, stand among the most remarkable in the mystical literature of the Catholic Church:

  • The "Autobiography," written before 1567, under the direction of her confessor, Fr Pedro Ibáñez;[7]
  • " El Camino de Perfección," written also before 1567, at the direction of her confessor;[8]
  • "Meditations on Song of Songs," 1567, written nominally for her daughters at the convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
  • "El Castillo Interior," written in 1577;[9]
  • "Relaciones," an extension of the autobiography giving her inner and outer experiences in epistolary form.
  • Two smaller works are the "Conceptos del Amor" ("Concepts of Love") and "Exclamaciones." In addition, there are "Las Cartas" (Saragossa, 1671), or her correspondence, of which there are 342 extant letters and 87 fragments of others. St Teresa's prose is marked by an unaffected grace, an ornate neatness, and charming power of expression, together placing her in the front rank of Spanish prose writers; and her rare poems ("Todas las poesías," Munster, 1854) are distinguished for tenderness of feeling and rhythm of thought.
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Excerpts

Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing make you afraid.
All things pass away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains everything.
God alone is enough.
[10]

In Spanish, it is a song called "Nada te turbe" after the first line.

Saint Teresa, who reported visions of Jesus and Mary, was a strong believer in the power of Holy water and wrote that she used it with success to repel evil and temptations.[11] She wrote:[12]

I know by frequent experience that there is nothing which puts the devils to flight like holy water.

Bibliography

  • Teresa of Avila, "The Book of Her Life" (Translated, with Notes, by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD. Introduction by Jodi Bilinkoff). Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 2008. ISBN 978-0-87220-907-7
  • "The Delighted Angel" drama about Teresa of Ávila and Rabija al-Adavija by Dževad Karahasan, Vienna-Salzburg-Klagenfurt, ARBOS 1995.
  • "The Interior Castle (Edited by E. Allison Peers)," Doubleday, 1972. ISBN 978-0-385-03643-6
  • "The Way of Perfection (Translated and Edited by E. Allison Peers)," Doubleday, 1991. ISBN 978-0-385-06539-9
  • "The Life of Teresa of Jesus: The Autobiography of Teresa of Avila (Translated by E. Allison Peers)," Doubleday, 1991. ISBN 978-0-385-01109-9
  • "Teresa of Avila: An Extraordinary Life", Shirley du Boulay, Bluebridge, 1995 ISBN 978-09742-4052-7
  • "Teresa: Outstanding Christian Thinkers," Rowan Williams, Continuum, 1991. ISBN 0-8264-5081-4
  • "The Eagle and the Dove" Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. by Vita Sackville-West. First published in 1943 by Michael Joseph LTD, 26 Bloomsbury Street, London, W.C.1

Portrayals

The Sainte-Thérèse d'Ávila (Teresa of Ávila) Cathedral in Amos, Quebec, Canada.

See also

References

  1. ^ At some hour of the night between October 4 and October 15, 1582, the night of the transition in Spain from the Julian to the Gregorian Calendar
  2. ^ Notable Lutheran Saints
  3. ^ The Church Calendar
    The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) observes a calendar rich with feast days of saints both old and new, including many figures of questionable background for orthodox Lutherans (e.g. Albert Schweitzer, Pope John XXIII, John Calvin, Chief Seattle, Florence Nightinggale, Dag Hammarskjöld).
  4. ^ Michael Walsh, ed. "Butler's Lives of the Saints" (HarperCollins Publishers: New York, 1991), pp. 334.
  5. ^ Teresa wrote that it must be a cherub (Deben ser los que llaman cherubines), but Fr. Domingo Báñez wrote in the margin that it seemed more like a seraph (mas parece de los que se llaman seraphis), an identification that most editors have followed. ({{cite book | author = Santa Teresa de Ávila | title = Escritos de Santa Teresa | chapter = Libro de su vida
  6. ^ Catechism para. 2709
  7. ^ Pedro Ibáñez, "La Vida de la Santa Madre Teresa de Jesús," Madrid, 1882; English translation, The Life of S. Teresa of Jesus, London, 1888.
  8. ^ "El Camino de Perfección," Salamanca, 1589; English translation, "The Way of Perfection," London, 1852.
  9. ^ "El Castillo Interior," English translation, "The Interior Castle," London, 1852, comparing the contemplative soul to a castle with seven successive interior courts, or chambers, analogous to the seven heavens.
  10. ^ Litany to Saint Teresa of Avila
  11. ^ Tessa Bielecki, Mirabai Starr, 2008 Teresa of Avila: The Book of My Life ISBN 1590305736 pp 238-241
  12. ^ Teresa of Avila, 2008 Life of St. Teresa of Jesus ISBN 1606800418 page 246

External links

This article was originally based on the text in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

It is love alone that gives worth to all things.

Saint Teresa of Avila (Teresa de Jesús) (1515-03-28 - 1582-10-04), born Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, was a Spanish mystic, philosopher and Catholic saint.

Contents

Sourced

Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee:
All thing pass;
God never changes.
It will be as well, I think, to explain these locutions of God, and to describe what the soul feels when it receives them...
May it please our Lord that I be not one of these; and may His Majesty give me grace to take that for peace which is really peace, that for honour which is really honour, and that for delight which is really a delight. Let me never mistake one thing for another — and then I snap my fingers at all the devils, for they shall be afraid of me.
  • Let nothing disturb thee;
    Let nothing dismay thee:
    All thing pass;
    God never changes.

    Patience attains
    All that it strives for.
    He who has God
    Finds he lacks nothing:
    God alone suffices.
    • "Poem IX", in Complete Works St. Teresa of Avila (1963) edited by E. Allison Peers, Vol. 3, p. 288
  • To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.
    • As quoted in The Little Lamp (1981) by Eknath Easwaran, p. 80
  • There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.
    • As quoted in The Last Word: A Treasury of Women's Quotes (1992) by Carolyn Warner
  • It is love alone that gives worth to all things.
    • As quoted in The Road to Emmaus : Pilgrimage as a Way of Life (2007) by Jim Forest, p. 61
  • Pain is never permanent.
    • The Book of Positive Quotations (2007) edited by John Cook, Steve Deger, and Leslie Ann Gibson, p. 333

The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus (c.1565)

Teresa's autobiography, The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, of The Order of Our Lady of Carmel (c. 1565) as translated by David Lewis (1904) at Project Gutenberg
I saw an angel close by me, on my left side, in bodily form. This I am not accustomed to see, unless very rarely. Though I have visions of angels frequently, yet I see them only by an intellectual vision, such as I have spoken of before. It was our Lord's will that in this vision I should see the angel in this wise...
  • One of my brothers was nearly of my own age; and he it was whom I most loved, though I was very fond of them all, and they of me. He and I used to read Lives of Saints together. When I read of martyrdom undergone by the Saints for the love of God, it struck me that the vision of God was very cheaply purchased; and I had a great desire to die a martyr's death, — not out of any love of Him of which I was conscious, but that I might most quickly attain to the fruition of those great joys of which I read that they were reserved in Heaven; and I used to discuss with my brother how we could become martyrs. We settled to go together to the country of the Moors, begging our way for the love of God, that we might be there beheaded; and our Lord, I believe, had given us courage enough, even at so tender an age, if we could have found the means to proceed; but our greatest difficulty seemed to be our father and mother.
    • Ch. I "Childhood and early Impressions" ¶ 4
  • It will be as well, I think, to explain these locutions of God, and to describe what the soul feels when it receives them, in order that you, my father, may understand the matter; for ever since that time of which I am speaking, when our Lord granted me that grace, it has been an ordinary occurrence until now, as will appear by what I have yet to say.
    The words are very distinctly formed; but by the bodily ear they are not heard. They are, however, much more clearly understood than they would be if they were heard by the ear. It is impossible not to understand them, whatever resistance we may offer. When we wish not to hear anything in this world, we can stop our ears, or give attention to something else: so that, even if we do hear, at least we can refuse to understand. In this locution of God addressed to the soul there is no escape, for in spite of ourselves we must listen; and the understanding must apply itself so thoroughly to the comprehension of that which God wills we should hear, that it is nothing to the purpose whether we will it or not; for it is His will, Who can do all things.
    • Ch. XXV. "Divine Locutions. Discussions on That Subject" ¶ 1 & 2
  • All things fail; but Thou, Lord of all, never failest! They who love Thee, oh, how little they have to suffer! oh, how gently, how tenderly, how sweetly Thou, O my Lord, dealest with them! Oh, that no one had ever been occupied with any other love than Thine! It seems as if Thou didst subject those who love Thee to a severe trial: but it is in order that they may learn, in the depths of that trial, the depths of Thy love. O my God, oh, that I had understanding and learning, and a new language, in order to magnify Thy works, according to the knowledge of them which my soul possesses! Everything fails me, O my Lord; but if Thou wilt not abandon me, I will never fail Thee. Let all the learned rise up against me, — let the whole creation persecute me, — let the evil spirits torment me, — but do Thou, O Lord, fail me not; for I know by experience now the blessedness of that deliverance which Thou dost effect for those who trust only in Thee. In this distress, — for then I had never had a single vision, — these Thy words alone were enough to remove it, and give me perfect peace: "Be not afraid, my daughter: it is I; and I will not abandon thee. Fear not."
    It seems to me that, in the state I was in then, many hours would have been necessary to calm me, and that no one could have done it. Yet I found myself, through these words alone, tranquil and strong, courageous and confident, at rest and enlightened; in a moment, my soul seemed changed, and I felt I could maintain against all the world that my prayer was the work of God. Oh, how good is God! how good is our Lord, and how powerful! He gives not counsel only, but relief as well. His words are deeds. O my God! as He strengthens our faith, love grows.
    • Ch. XXV. "Divine Locutions. Discussions on That Subject" ¶ 22 & 23
  • Seeing, then, that our Lord is so powerful, — as I see and know He is, — and that the evil spirits are His slaves, of which there can be no doubt, because it is of faith, — and I a servant of this our Lord and King, — what harm can Satan do unto me? Why have I not strength enough to fight against all hell? I took up the cross in my hand, — I was changed in a moment into another person, and it seemed as if God had really given me courage enough not to be afraid of encountering all the evil spirits.
    • Ch. XXV. "Divine Locutions. Discussions on That Subject" ¶ 24
  • I feared them so little, that the terrors, which until now oppressed me, quitted me altogether; and though I saw them occasionally, — I shall speak of this by and by, — I was never again afraid of them — on the contrary, they seemed to be afraid of me. I found myself endowed with a certain authority over them, given me by the Lord of all, so that I cared no more for them than for flies. They seem to be such cowards; for their strength fails them at the sight of any one who despises them. These enemies have not the courage to assail any but those whom they see ready to give in to them, or when God permits them to do so, for the greater good of His servants, whom they may try and torment.
    • Ch. XXV. "Divine Locutions. Discussions on That Subject" ¶ 25
  • 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. The evil spirits keep us in terror, because we expose ourselves to the assaults of terror by our attachments to honours, possessions, and pleasures. For then the evil spirits, uniting themselves with us, — we become our own enemies when we love and seek what we ought to hate, — do us great harm. We ourselves put weapons into their hands, that they may assail us; those very weapons with which we should defend ourselves. It is a great pity. But if, for the love of God, we hated all this, and embraced the cross, and set about His service in earnest, Satan would fly away before such realities, as from the plague. He is the friend of lies, and a lie himself. He will have nothing to do with those who walk in the truth. When he sees the understanding of any one obscured, he simply helps to pluck out his eyes; if he sees any one already blind, seeking peace in vanities, — for all the things of this world are so utterly vanity, that they seem to be but the playthings of a child, — he sees at once that such a one is a child; he treats him as a child, and ventures to wrestle with him — not once, but often.
    May it please our Lord that I be not one of these; and may His Majesty give me grace to take that for peace which is really peace, that for honour which is really honour, and that for delight which is really a delight. Let me never mistake one thing for another — and then I snap my fingers at all the devils, for they shall be afraid of me. I do not understand those terrors which make us cry out, Satan, Satan! when we may say, God, God! and make Satan tremble. Do we not know that he cannot stir without the permission of God? What does it mean? I am really much more afraid of those people who have so great a fear of the devil, than I am of the devil himself. Satan can do me no harm whatever, but they can trouble me very much, particularly if they be confessors. I have spent some years of such great anxiety, that even now I am amazed that I was able to bear it. Blessed be our Lord, who has so effectually helped me!
    • Ch. XXV. "Divine Locutions. Discussions on That Subject" ¶ 26 & 27
    • Variant translation: I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him.
  • I saw an angel close by me, on my left side, in bodily form. This I am not accustomed to see, unless very rarely. Though I have visions of angels frequently, yet I see them only by an intellectual vision, such as I have spoken of before. It was our Lord's will that in this vision I should see the angel in this wise. He was not large, but small of stature, and most beautiful — his face burning, as if he were one of the highest angels, who seem to be all of fire: they must be those whom we call cherubim. Their names they never tell me; but I see very well that there is in heaven so great a difference between one angel and another, and between these and the others, that I cannot explain it.

    I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.

    • Ch. XXIX, ¶ 16-17

Interior Castle (1577)

God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.
  • It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or mother was, or from what country he came? Though that is a great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies and have a vague idea, because we have heard it, and because our faith tells us so, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or who dwells within them, or how precious they are — those are things which seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul's beauty. All our interest is centred in the rough setting of the diamond and in the outer wall of the castle – that is to say in these bodies of ours.
    • First Mansions, Ch. 1, as translated by E. Allison Peers (1961) p. 18
  • We shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God; for, beholding His greatness, we realize our own littleness; His purity shows us our foulness; and by meditating upon His humility we find how very far we are from being humble.
    • First Mansions, Ch. 2 : The Human Soul, as translated by the Benedictines of Stanbrook (1911), revised and edited by Fr. Benedict Zimmerman
  • Just as we cannot stop the movement of the heavens, revolving as they do with such speed, so we cannot restrain our thought. And then we send all the faculties of the soul after it, thinking we are lost, and have misused the time that we are spending in the presence of God. Yet the soul may perhaps be wholly united with Him in the Mansions very near His presence, while thought remains in the outskirts of the castle, suffering the assaults of a thousand wild and venomous creatures and from this suffering winning merit. So this must not upset us, and we must not abandon the struggle, as the devil tries to make us do. Most of these trials and times of unrest come from the fact that we do not understand ourselves.
    • Fourth Mansions, Ch. 1, trans. E. Allison Peers (1961),ISBN 0-385-03643-6 p. 77
  • God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.
    • Fourth Mansions, Ch. 3: Prayer of Quiet, as translated by the Benedictines of Stanbrook (1911), revised and edited by Fr. Benedict Zimmerman
  • We cannot know whether we love God, although there may be strong reason for thinking so; but there can be no doubt about whether we love our neighbor or not. Be sure that, in proportion as you advance in fraternal charity, you are increasing your love of God, for His Majesty bears so tender an affection for us that I cannot doubt He will repay our love for others by augmenting, and in a thousand different ways, that which we bear for Him.
    • Fifth Mansion, Ch. 3, translated by the Benedictines of Stanbrook (1921), revised and edited by Fr. Benedict Zimmerman (1930); reprinted (2003) by Kessinger Publications, ISBN 0-766-17267-8 p. 109

Maxims for Her Nuns (1963)

"Maxims for Her Nuns" in Complete Works St. Teresa of Avila (1963) edited by E. Allison Peers, Vol. 3, p. 256 - 260
  • Never exaggerate, but express your feelings with moderation.
    • Maxim 13, p. 256
  • Never affirm anything unless you are sure it is true.
    • Maxim 15, p. 256
  • Always think of yourself as everyone's servant; look for Christ Our Lord in everyone and you will then have respect and reverence for them all.
    • Maxim 25, p. 257
  • Reflect upon the providence and wisdom of God in all created things and praise Him in them all.'
    • Maxim 35, p. 258
  • Never compare one person with another: comparisons are odious.
    • Maxim 44, p. 259
  • Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.
    • Maxim 52, p. 259
  • Be gentle to all and stern with yourself.
    • Maxim 55, p. 259

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