Saturday, September 10, 2011

Words of Wisdom From St. Teresa of Jesus

I often tell you, sisters, and now I want it to be set down in writing, not to forget that we in this house, and for that matter anyone who would be perfect, must flee a thousand leagues from such phrases as: "I had right on my side"; "They had no right to do this to me"; "The person who treated me like this was not right". God deliver us from such a false idea of right as that! Do you think that it was right for our good Jesus to have to suffer so many insults, and that those who heaped them on Him were right, and that they had any right to do Him those wrongs? I do not know why anyone is in a convent who is willing to bear only the crosses that she has a perfect right to expect: such a person should return to the world, though even there such rights will not be safeguarded. Do you think you can ever possibly have to bear so much that you ought not to have to bear any more? How does right enter into the matter at all? I really do not know.

Before we begin talking about not having our rights, let us wait until we receive some honour or gratification, or are treated kindly, for it is certainly not right that we should have anything in this life like that. When, on the other hand, some offence is done to us (and we do not feel it an offence to us that it should be so described), I do not see what we can find to complain of. Either we are the brides of this great King or we are not. If we are, what wife is there with a sense of honour who does not accept her share in any dishonour done to her spouse, even though she may do so against her will? Each partner, in fact, shares in the honour and dishonour of the other. To desire to share in the kingdom [of our Spouse Jesus Christ], and to enjoy it, and yet not to be willing to have any part in His dishonours and trials, is ridiculous.

God keep us from being like that! Let the sister who thinks that she is accounted the least among all consider herself the [happiest and] most fortunate, as indeed she really is, if she lives her life as she should, for in that case she will, as a rule, have no lack of honour either in this life or in the next. Believe me when I say this -- what an absurdity, though, it is for me to say "Believe me" when the words come from Him Who is true Wisdom, Who is Truth Itself, and from the Queen of the angels! Let us, my daughters, in some small degree, imitate the great humility of the most sacred Virgin, whose habit we wear and whose nuns we are ashamed to call ourselves. Let us at least imitate this humility of hers in some degree -- I say "in some degree" because, however much we may seem to humble ourselves, we fall far short of being the daughters of such a Mother, and the brides of such a Spouse. If, then, the habits I have described are not sternly checked, what seems nothing to-day will perhaps be a venial sin to-morrow, and that is so infectious a tendency that, if you leave it alone, the sin will not be the only one for long; and that is a very bad thing for communities.  The Way of Perfection, Chapter 13, St. Teresa of Avila


I had to remind myself of these words.

As someone who suffers from having a thin skin, they are most apt and I felt, when I read this book, that they were aimed directly at me, in the way the Angel is aiming that flaming arrow at St. Teresa's heart.


  1. Every time I read St Therese of Avila, I think, 'how does she know all my weaknesses so well?' Our abbot calls her his spiritual sister and is always referring to her.
    It's exactly as you say...her words feel like flaming arrows....and they piece easily on thin skin which I am plagued with too.
    Love you Joyce +

  2. St. Teresa has been through it all and is a great help in setting us back on track. I love this passage you cite - I probably should read it every day, but then I'd still not 'get it' until after I fell into the trap. It's the best way to learn I guess.

  3. Terry, I should have mentioned that you cited this passage last week - I just included more of it,because I thought it was an apropos time to do so. When I read the Way of Perfection, it was these words that stuck with me most. Thanks for stopping by and God Bless! Joyce


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