The Words of Saint Teresa of Avila

Listed below are some of the teachings of Saint Teresa of Avila. This is the complementary blog post to Saint Teresa of Avila – Doctor of Prayer.

Thanks to my friend, Justin Reany, who sold me The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volumes 1 & 2, I can provide you with this great intellectual wisdom and insight.

“If I should give advice, I would tell parents that when their children are at this age [teenage] they ought to be very careful about whom their children associate with. For here lies the root of great evil since our natural bent is toward the worst rather than toward the best.” – The Book of Her Life, Chapter 2

“This is the method of prayer I then used: since I could not reflect discursively with the intellect, I strove to represent Christ within me, and it did me greater good – in my opinion – to represent Him in those scenes where I saw Him more alone. It seemed to me that being alone and afflicted, as a person in need, He had to accept me. I had many simple thoughts like these.” – The Book of Her Life, Chapter 9

“While in prayer, and almost whenever I’m able to reflect a little, I’m unable to ask for rest or to desire it from God, even if I try. For I see that He didn’t live but with rituals; and I bet Him to give me these, granting me first the grace to suffer.” – Her Spiritual Life and Manner of Prayer, 1560

“One day after having received Communion, I truly thought my soul was made one with the most sacred Body of the Lord. He appeared to me and by His presence caused me to make much progress.” – Union with Christ in the Eucharist, 1575

“Christians, Christians! Behold the communion you have with this great God; recognize it and don’t despise it, for just as this glance is agreeable to His lovers, it is frightful with a terrifying wrath for His persecutors. Oh, how we fail to understand that sin is a battle pitched against God with all our soul’s senses and faculties. He who can commit more sins, invents more treachery against his King.” – The Love and Wrath of God

St. Teresa_of_Avila

“There are some souls and minds so scattered they are like wild horses no one can stop. Now they’re running here, now there, always restless. [And if the rider is skillful, there is not always a danger – just sometimes. But even though this life is in no danger, he is not free from some dishonor in mounting the wild horse; and there is always some hardship]. This restlessness is either caused by the souls nature or permitted by God. I pity these souls greatly, for they seem to be live very thirsty persons who see water in the distance, but then they want to go there, they meet someone who prevents their passing from the beginning through the middle to the end.” – The Way of Perfection, Chapter 19

“When the Lord desires to give understanding, His Majesty does so without our effort. I am saying this to women, and also to men who aren’t obliged to defend the truth their learning. For those whom the Lord has called to explain the Scriptures to us must understandably work, and they will gain much from their work. But we should accept with simplicity whatever the Lord gives us; and what He doesn’t we shouldn’t tire ourselves over, but rejoice in considering what a great Lord and God we have. For one word of His will contain within itself a thousand mysteries, and thus our understanding is only very elementary.” – Meditations on the Song of Songs, Chapter 1

“Oh humility, humility! I don’t know what kind of temptation I’m undergoing in this matter that I cannot help but think that anyone who makes such an issue of dryness is a little lacking in humility. I said that I’ve omitted mention of those great interior trials I’ve referred to, for those involve much more than just a lack of devotion. Let us prove ourselves, my Sisters, or the let the Lord prove us, for He knows well how to do this even though we often don’t want to understand it.” – The Interior Castle, III:1

“Therefore, courage, my daughters! Let’s be quick to do this work and weave this little cocoon by getting rid of our self-love and self-will, our attachment to any earthly thing, and by performing deeds of penance, prayer, mortification, obedience, and of all the others things you know. Would to heaven that we would do what we must; and we are instructed about what we must do.” – The Interior Castle, V:2

“In sum, my Sisters, what I conclude with is that we shouldn’t build castles in the air. The Lord doesn’t look so much at the greatness of our works as at the love with which they are done. And if we do what we can, His Majesty will enable us each day to do more and more, provided that we do not quickly tire. But during the little while this life lasts – and perhaps it will last a shorter time than each one thinks – let us offer the Lord interiorly and exteriorly the sacrifice we can. His Majesty will join it with that which He offered on the cross to the Father for us. Thus even through our works are small they will have the value our love for Him would have merited had they been great.” – The Interior Castle, VII:4

Sources:

Kavanaugh, Kieran, O.C.D and Rodriquez, Otilio, O.C.D, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volumes 1 & 2. Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976, 1980.

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