Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Book of the Foundations - Chapter 5 - St. Teresa of Avila - Teresa of Jesus

                        Chapter 5 

    The Book of the Foundations
           of S. Teresa of Jesus 
of the Order of our Lady of Carmel  

        CHAPTER 5
        FOR THOSE 
   1. The Saint's sources of knowledge. — 
   2. Perfect prayer. — 
   3. Meditation. — 
   4. Self-love. — 
   5. Our own ease not to be preferred 
          to the Will of God. — 
   6. Blessings of obedience. — 
   7. Instance of obed-ience. — 
   8. Fruits of obedience. — 
   9. Vision of a religious. — 
 10. The sum of perfection — 
 11. Obedience stronger 
          than reasoning. — 
 12. Submission of the will. — 
 13. The sacrifice of the will. — 
 14. Always rewarded. — 
 15. Blessings of solitude. —
 16. Trials show us what we are. — 
 17. Self-knowledge. — 
 18. Obedience of  our Lord. 

1. The Saint's sources of knowledge.
1. I  do not mean, and 
    I have never thought, 
that what I am now going to say
     is so accurate 
that It should be held as an Infallible rule: 
that would be folly 
   in matters so difficult. 
But, as there are many ways 
   in the way of  the Spirit,
it may be 
   that I shall say something 
to the purpose concerning some of them; 
and if they do not understand me 
   who are not travelling this way, 
that will be because 
   they are travelling on another, 
and if I do good to nobody 
   our Lord will accept my good will, 
for He knows that, 
   if I have not experienced it all, myself, 
I have observed it in other souls. 
2. Perfect prayer
2. In the first place, 
I wish to show, 
  so far as my poor understanding is able, 
wherein lies the essence 
   of perfect prayer
for some I have met with,
 think the whole matter 
       lies in thinking, 
and so, 
  if they can think long about God, 
though by doing great violence 
    to themselves, 
they believe forthwith 
    that they are spiritual people; 
and if unable to hold out longer, 
  they turn to other occupations, 
however good, 
   they fall immediately 
         into great discomfort, 
and look upon themselves as lost. 
Learned men do not labour 
    under ignorance like this, 
yet I have found one who did so; 
but for us women 
  it is well we should be warned 
to beware of all ignorance 
  in these matters. 
I am not saying 
  that it is not a grace 
      from our Lord 
that a person should be always able 
  to persevere in meditation on His works
and it is right to make an effort to do so
but it must be understood 
that not every imagination is 
      by nature able to do it
but every soul is able to love Him
   perfection lies in that (loving God)
   rather than in thinking ].                      [1]
I have already in another place                     [2] 
   spoken of the causes 
of the disorder 
    of our imagination 
          — not of all, I believe, 
              for that would be impossible, 
              but of some — 
and so I do not treat of them now, 
but I would rather show:
  that the soul is not 
      the power of thinking, and 
  that the will is not ordered by it, 
for that would be a sad state, 
    as I said just now, 
 seeing that 
   the good of the soul 
         does not consist 
      in its thinking much, 
   but in its loving much
And if you were to ask 
   how is this love to be had
My answer is, 
   - by a good resolution 
          to do and suffer for God, 
   - by carrying out that resolution 
               into action
          whenever the opportunity occurs. 
3. Meditation
3. It is very true 
that by meditating 
    on the debt we owe our Lord, 
    on His nature and on ours, 
a soul may attain to a firm resolution
      — and there is great merit 
                in doing so, 
           and it is most fitting 
                in the beginning; 
but it must be understood 
   that what relates 
         to obedience, and 
         the good of our neighbour, 
         to the doing 
           of which charity constrains us, 
      must not be hindered thereby,              [3]
for on such occasions, 
   when either of these two is required of us, 
      we must give up 
             for the time 
    that which we so much long 
          to give to God:
          which, as we regard it, 
        is to be alone 
              - meditating upon Him, and 
              - rejoicing in His consolations. 
To give this up 
     for either of the other two 
  is to 
         - give pleasure to our Lord, and 
         - do it for Him:                                      [4]
        so He Himself has said — 
         'What ye did for one of these little ones,
            ye did for Me.'                                [5] 
And as to that 
   which relates to obedience:
        He will not have us walk 
             by any other way 
        than that 
            which He chose for  Himself 
    — Obediens usque ad mortem.             [6]
           "Obedient unto death."
4. Self-love 
4. If, then, this be true, 
 whence comes that inward dissatisfaction 
    which we generally feel 
when we have not passed
  the greater part of the day 
alone and absorbed in God, 
   even though we were occupied 
in other ways. 
From two sources, I think: 
   (Blog Note - See #4 (here) and #15)
    ▪ one, and this is the chief
           is self-love
       which thrusts itself in here 
          in a most subtle way, 
        and accordingly escapes detection; 
      that is, we would please ourselves 
          rather than God. 
      For it is clear that 
          when a soul has begun to taste 
       how sweet our Lord is,                      [7]
          it finds more pleasure in 
               being at ease, 
               abstaining from bodily labour, 
               receiving consolation. 

5. Our own ease not to be preferred 
       to the Will of God
5. Oh, the charity of those 
    who truly love our Lord, 
    who understand their own state ! 
How scanty the rest 
     they will be able to take 
if they but see 
  that they can in any degree 
     - help a single soul 
              to advance, 
              to love God more, 
     - be able to comfort it in any way, 
     - rescue it from any danger ! 
How ill at ease such souls will be 
   when they are at rest ! 
And when they cannot help them  in act,
   they have recourse to prayer, 
beseeching our Lord 
   on behalf of the many souls 
whom it grieves them 
   to see going to ruin; 
they abandon their own comfort, 
   and look on it as well lost, 
for they think 
    not of their own rest, 
    but only how they may more and more 
       do the will of  our Lord.
It is the same in things 
    that relate to obedience
it would be a strange thing 
if, when God clearly told us 
        to betake ourselves to some work
            that concerns Him, 
     we were to do nothing 
        but stand still and gaze upon Him 
     because that gives us a greater joy. 
A pleasant progress this in the love of God !
    — to tie His hands 
   through an opinion 
       that He can do us good 
        only in one way. 
6. Blessings of obedience 
6. I know of some, 
  and have lived among them 
           — I put on one side 
                      my own experience, 
                as I said before  —                          [8]
who taught me the truth of this; 
when I was myself in great distress 
  because of the little time I had, 
and accordingly was sorry 
  to see them always employed 
and having much to do, 
   because they were under obedience, 
and was thinking within myself, 
  and even said as much to them, 
that spiritual growth was not possible 
  amidst so much hurry and confusion, 
for they had then not grown much. 
O Lord, how different are Thy ways 
  from what we imagined them to be !       [9] 
how Thou, 
    if a soul be
          determined to love Thee, and 
          resigned in Thy hands, 
   askest nothing of it but 
         - obedience
         - the sure knowledge 
            of what is for Thy greater honour, 
         - the desire to do it
That soul need not seek out means, 
  nor make a choice of any, 
for its will is already Thine
Thou, O Lord, 
  hast taken upon Thyself 
to guide it in the way 
  the most profitable to it
And even if the superior 
  be not mindful of that soul's profit, 
        but only of the duties 
        to be discharged in the community. 
Thou, O my God, 
   art mindful of it; 
Thou preparest its ways, 
 and orderest those things 
          we have to do, 
   so that we find ourselves
              without our knowing how, 
                  by faithfully observing, 
              for the love of God,
                  the commands 
              that are laid upon us, 
    - spiritually growing and 
    - making great progress
  which afterwards fills us with wonder. 
7. Instance of obedience 
7. So it was with one 
whom I conversed with 
   not many days since. 
He had been for fifteen years 
   under obedience, 
   charged with 
          laborious offices and 
          the government of others
     — so much so 
       that he could not call to mind one day 
          that he had had to himself; 
   nevertheless he contrived to find, 
      the best way he could, 
   - some time every day for prayer
   - to have a conscience without offence.  
He is one 
  whose soul is the most given to obedience 
that I ever saw, 
  and he impresses that virtue 
on every one he has to do with. 
Our Lord has amply rewarded him, 
   for he finds himself, 
he knows not how, 
   in possession of that liberty of spirit
         so prized and so desired, 
   which the perfect have, and 
   wherein lies all the happiness 
         that can be wished for in this life; 
for, seeking nothing, 
   he possesses all things. 
Such souls 
    fear nothing, and 
    desire nothing on earth; 
no troubles disturb them
no pleasures touch them
in a word, nobody can rob them 
   of their peace, 
for it rests on God alone, 
as nobody can rob them of Him, 
   nothing but the fear of losing Him 
can give them any pain; 
for everything else in this world 
             in their opinion, 
       as if it were not, 
because it can 
             neither make 
             nor mar 
      their happiness. 
8. Fruits of obedience 
8. O blessed obedience
and blessed the distraction 
    caused thereby, 
  by which we gain so much
That person is not the only one, 
  for I have known others like him, 
of whom, 
   not having seen them 
       for very many years, 
I asked how 
    they had been spending the time
       that had gone by: 
  all of it had been spent 
     in the labours 
         of  obedience and 
         of charity
on the other hand, 
  I observed such spiritual prosperity 
as made me marvel. 
Well, then, my children, 
   be not discouraged, 
for if obedience employs you 
   in outward things,
know that 
   even if you are in the kitchen 
our Lord moves 
   amidst the pots and pans
helping us both within and without. 
9. Vision of a religious 
9. I remember being told 
   by a religious 
 - that he 
        was resolved, and 
        had made up his mind in earnest, 
   never to refuse to do anything 
      that his superior enjoined him, 
   whatever the labour might be; 
 - that one day, 
       wearied with work 
        unable to stand, in the evening 
        as he was going to rest himself a while, 
    his superior 
         met him, and 
         told him to take a spade and 
         go and dig in the garden. 
He did not say a word, 
   though naturally greatly distressed, 
so much so that he could do no work; 
he took up a spade, 
   and going along a passage 
which led to the garden
         — I saw it many years 
                    after he had told me of it, 
              when I was trying to found a house 
                     in that place — 
  he saw our Lord before him 
       with His cross on His shoulders, 
  So worn and wearied 
        that he felt his own weariness 
  to be nothing in comparison with His.   [11] 
10. The sum of perfection 
10. I believe myself 
 that when Satan sees 
         there is no road
            that leads more quickly 
        to the highest perfection 
            than this of obedience
   he suggests many difficulties 
        under the colour of some good, 
   and makes it distasteful: 
Let people look well into it, 
   and they will see plainly 
that I am telling the truth. 
Wherein lies the highest perfection ? 
It is clear
   that it does 
      not lie in interior delights, 
      not in great raptures, 
      not in visions, 
      not in the spirit of prophecy, 
  but in the conformity 
      of our will 
      to the will of God
so that there shall be nothing 
  that we know that He wills 
   that we do not 
      - will ourselves 
              with our whole will
      - accept the bitter as joyfully 
              as the sweet, 
         knowing it to be His Majesty's will. 
This seems to be very hard to do; 
  not the mere doing of it, 
  but the being pleased
      in the doing of that which, 
           according to our nature, 
      is wholly and in every way 
           against our will; 
   and certainly so it is; 
but love
   if perfect, 
      is strong enough to do it, 
   we forget our own pleasure 
      in order to please Him 
    Who loves us so much. 
And truly it is so, 
for our sufferings
     however great they may be, 
  are sweet 
when we know 
   that we are giving pleasure unto God
and it is in this way they love 
   who have attained to this state 
by persecutions, by dishonour, and by wrongs. 
11. Obedience stronger 
         than reasoning 
11. This is so certain, 
    and remains so plain and evident, 
that there is no reason 
   why I should dwell upon it. 
What I aim at showing 
   is the reason, in my opinion, 
why obedience furnishes 
      the readiest or 
      the best way for arriving
           at so blessed a state
That reason is this
   as we are never absolute masters 
           of our own will,
        so as to employ it purely and simply 
          for God, 
        till we subject it wholly to reason, 
  ▪ obedience is the true means 
         of bringing about that subjection
     which can never be brought about 
         by much reasoning, 
      because our nature and self-love 
         can furnish so much on their side 
      that we shall never come to an end, 
      very often will make 
          that which is most reasonable, 
      if we have no liking for it, 
          to seem folly 
      because we have no inclination to do it. 
12. Submission of the will 
12. There is so much to be said 
of this inward struggle, 
   that we shall never come to the end, 
and so many are the means 
   which Satan, the world, and our flesh 
 employs in order to warp our reason. 
Is there, then, any help for it ? 
  as in a very doubtful question of law men 
       go to an arbitrator, 
    and, weary of pleading, 
        put the matter in his hands, 
 so let the soul go to some one
   whether it be 
                 the superior or 
                 the confessor
           fully bent on pleading no further 
           or thinking of its cause, 
   but relying on the words of our Lord
          who  saith, 
      'He that heareth you, heareth Me,'       [12]   
           regardless of its own will. 
Our Lord makes so much 
   of this submission, 
and justly so, 
   for we make Him thereby 
Master of the free will 
   He has given us
for by the practice thereof, 
   now conquering ourselves wholly
at other times 
         after a thousand struggles, 
   thinking the decisions given in our cause 
        to be folly, 
we conform to that 
   which is commanded us 
        by the help of this painful exercise; 
but at last, painfully or not, 
   we do it, 
and our Lord on His part 
    helps us so much, 
that as we submit our will and reason 
    for His sake, 
so He makes us masters of them both
13. The sacrifice of the will 
13. We, then, 
   being masters of ourselves, 
  are able to 
    ▪ give ourselves perfectly to God, 
    ▪ offering to Him a pure will 
         that He may unite it to His own, 
    ▪ praying Him 
          to send down from heaven 
              the fire of His love 
          to consume the sacrifice,               [13]
    ▪ putting everything away 
         that may be displeasing unto Him: 
    for now there is nothing more
        for us to do, 
    seeing that, 
         although with much labour, 
     we have laid our offering on the altar,     
         which, so far as it lies in our power, 
     no longer touches the earth. 
14. Always rewarded 
14. It is clear 
that no man can give 
   that which he does not possess, 
       as it is necessary he should have it 
       before he can give it. 
Believe me, then,
   there is no better way 
      of finding this treasure 
   than that of toiling and digging 
      so as to draw it forth 
   out of the mine of obedience
for the more we dig
      the more we shall find, 
      the more we subject ourselves to men, 
          having no other will 
          but that of those 
               who are over us, 
      the more we shall master our will 
          so as to conform it to the will of God
Consider, my sisters, 
  whether the pleasures 
       of solitude abandoned 
  be not amply repaid. 
I tell you 
  that you will be none the worse 
      for the loss of solitude 
   in your preparation for attaining 
      to that true union 
         of which I am speaking, 
      which is that of
         making our own will 
               one with the will of God. 
This is the union 
    which I desire
    would have you all possess, 
            and not certain raptures, 
                  full of delight, 
            to which some are liable, 
            and which they call union: 
            and those raptures may be union, 
            if, when they are over, 
               they are followed by obedience
            but if after the raptures,
            there ensues 
                but scanty obedience, 
                and self-will remains, 
            this latter, as it seems to me, 
               will be joined 
                    to self-love and 
                    not to the will of God. 
May His Majesty grant 
  that I may act 
according to the knowledge 
  I have in the matter ! 
15. Blessings of solitude 
15. The second source                          
 of this dissatisfaction, 
          in my opinion, 
         ( See § 4, above )
  is that the soul seems to live 
      in greater purity 
when left in solitude, 
  because there are fewer opportunities 
  therein of offending God; 
some, however, there must be, 
        the evil spirits and 
        we, ourselves, 
  are everywhere. 
For if the soul is afraid 
   of offending God, 
it is a very great consolation 
   for it to meet with nothing
       to make it fall; 
   and certainly this seems to me 
   a stronger reason 
          for desiring to avoid 
             all intercourse with the world 
   than is that 
          which is grounded on the fact, 
   that solitude ministers 
         great consolations and 
         sweetness in God. 
16. Trials show us what we are 
16. It is here, my children, 
  love must be made known
     not in secret places, 
     but in the midst of temptations: 
and trust me, 
  our gain will be incomparably greater
though there may be 
   more faults committed, and 
   even some slight falls. 
   in all I say 
I am taking for granted 
  that you run these risks 
      under obedience 
      out of charity, 
   and if it be not so,
      my conclusion always is 
   that to be alone is better; 
and, moreover, 
  we ought to desire to be alone 
even when employed 
  in the way I am speaking of; 
in truth, this desire is ever present 
  in those souls which really love God. 
Why I say it again is this: 
   it makes us know 
     - what we are, and 
     - how far our virtue can reach. 
A person always alone, 
  however holy he may think himself to be, 
  - does not know 
      whether he possesses 
     patience and humility, and 
  - has no means of learning. 
A man may be very courageous, 
   but how is it to be known 
if he has not been seen in battle ? 
S. Peter considered himself very brave, 
but look at him 
   when he was tried: 
   he, however, rose again after his fall, 
      not trusting at all to himself; 
   and from henceforth 
      placed all his confidence in God, 
   afterwards suffered martyrdom, 
      as we know.

17. Self-knowledge 
17. O my God, 
if we but knew 
  how great is our wretchedness ! 
There is danger in everything 
  if we do not know it, 
and for that reason 
it is a great blessing to us
    that we are under authority, 
so that we may discern 
    our own meanness. 
And I consider 
   one day of humbling self-knowledge
      which may have cost us 
             much sorrow and distress, 
   to be a greater grace of our Lord 
      than many days of prayer
he who is a true lover 
   loves everywhere
   always remembers 
          the object of his love.

It would be hard 
   if we could pray only in secret places. 
I see now that I cannot be alone 
   for many hours. 
But, O my Lord ! 
how mighty before Thee 
  is a single sigh rising up from the heart
because of the pain it gives to us 
  to see 
     that we have 
         not only to tarry in this our exile, 
         but also that we find 
             no opportunity of being alone, 
         so that we might alone 
             have the fruition of Thyself. 
18. Obedience of  our Lord
18. Here it is plain 
that we are His slaves, 
    sold for love of Him, 
         with our own consent, 
    to the virtue of obedience, 
 seeing that for its sake 
 we give up, 
         in a certain way, 
    the fruition of God Himself; 
and it is nothing, 
   if we consider 
that He, in obedience, 
   came down from the bosom 
       of the Father 
   to make Himself a slave to us. 
How then 
  can He be recompensed for this, 
what service can we give Him 
   in return for this grace ? 
It is necessary 
    to be on our guard 
        in our employments, 
    though laid upon us 
        by obedience and charity
lest we should be careless therein, 
    not lifting up our hearts 
        continually unto God
And, believe me, 
it is not length of time 
    that enables a soul 
         to make progress in prayer; 
if it is given up to active work also
   that is a great help 
whereby the soul 
       in a very short time 
   may attain to a better preparation 
       for the enkindling of its love 
   than it could attain to 
       by many hours spent in meditation. 
All has to come from His hand
May He be blessed for ever and ever! 

      Foot Notes:
 The words in brackets are 
    an interpolation of Father Gratian. 
  See Life, ch. xvii. 10. 
 10. I say that it happens to me 
          from time to time,--
        it has done so this very day, 
           and so I remember it well,--
 to see my soul tear itself, 
   in order to find itself there 
 where the greater part of it is, 
 and to see, at the same time, 
   that it is impossible: 
 because the memory and the imagination
    assail it with such force, 
 that it cannot prevail against them; 
 yet, as the other faculties 
    - give them no assistance, 
    - they are not able to do it any harm-- 
          none whatever; 
       they do enough 
          when they trouble its rest. 
      When I say they do no harm, 
            my meaning is, 
       that they cannot really hurt it,
            - because they have 
                  not strength enough, and   
            - because they are 
                  too discursive. 
  As the understanding 
   - gives no help, 
          neither much nor little, 
            in the matters put before the soul,   
    - they never rest anywhere, 
       but hurry to and fro, 
           like nothing else but gnats at night, 
       troublesome and unquiet: and so they
      go about from one subject to another.
       (The Memory and Imagination)
 11. This comparison seems to me 
          to be singularly to the purpose; 
 for the memory and the imagination,  
     though they 
      - have no power to do any harm, 
      - are very troublesome. 
        I know of no remedy for it; 
       and, hitherto, God has told me of none. 
       If He had, most gladly 
          would I make use of it; 
      for I am, as I say, tormented very often. 
      - This shows our wretchedness and 
      - brings out most distinctly 
            the great power of God, 
         seeing that the faculty
            which is free 
         hurts and wearies us so much; 
         while the others, 
                  occupied with His Majesty, 
             give us rest.
                   [ Life Ch. 17 #10, 11 ]
 Oratio impediens obligationem, est illusio: 
 et oratio quae nescit relinquere 
   Deum propter Deum, 
 nec subvenire fraternae caritati obligatoriae, 
 et poenitentiam praefert obedientiae, 
 vel amentia est, 
 vel manifesta illusio (§ 448),
 [ Schram, Theolog. Mystic. § 472.]

 Blog Note: 
  Institutiones Theologiae mysticae
  By Dominique Schram
 Blogger's note - Rough translation:
 Prayer, when it impedes 
       the fulfillment of  obligations, 
  is an illusion  of  prayer.
 And prayer 
     which is not put aside 
            for the sake of God 
            to come to the necessity 
                of fraternal love 
     and prefers penance to obedience is 
     and becomes an illusion.
 St. Philip expressed it thus — 
  'Leaving Christ for Christ.' 
 See his Life, by Bacci, bk. ii. ch. v. 
 S. Matt. XXV. 40. 
 Mt 25:40
 Quam diu fecistis uni 
   de his fratribus meis minimis, 
  mihi fecistis. 
 Philippians 2:8
 He humbled himself, 
  becoming obedient unto death, 
 even to the death of the cross
 Ps. xxxiii. 9. 
 Gustate ct videte quoniam 
   suavis est Dominus. 
 Blog note:
 O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: 
 Blessed is the man that hopeth in him
      § 1, supra. 
 Blog note:
 (See above; Foundation: Ch5: #1)
 Is. Iv. 8. 
 Non enim cogitationes meae, 
   cogitationes vestrae; 
 neque viae vestrae, vias meas, 
   dicit Dominus. 
 Blog note:
 Is 55:8
 For my thoughts 
    are not your thoughts: 
  nor your ways my ways, 
  saith the Lord
 Acts xxiv. 16.  
 studeo sine offendiculo conscientiam 
 habere ad Deum 
  et ad homines semper
 Blog Note:
 And herein do I endeavour 
  to have always a conscience 
 without offence 
  toward God, and
  towards men
 According to the Reforma 
   (bk. iv. ch. xvii. 5) 
 this religious would have been 
    Francis of the Conception
      of the convent of La Roda, 
 but as chronological difficulties 
   render this identification doubtful, 
 others have thought, 
   with, perhaps, greater probability, 
 it was S. John of the Cross
 S. Luc. X. 16, 
 Qui vos audit, me audit.
 3 Regg. xviii. 58. 
 Cecidit autem ignis Domini 
   et voravit holocaustum. 
Blog Note:
1 Kings : 18:38
Then the fire of the Lord fell, 
   and consumed the holocaust


              End of Chapter 5
                    of the 
          Book of the Foundations
             of S. Teresa of Jesus 
    of the Order of our Lady of Carmel    


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