Monday, June 20, 2011

The Book of the Foundations - Discussion of Chapter 2 - St. Teresa of Avila - Teresa of Jesus

The Book of the Foundations
Discussion of Chapter 2 
    Summary  / Highlights

             CHAPTER 2
 1. The General of the Carmelites 
         arrives in Spain. — 

 2. Is friendly to the Saint. — 

 3. Authorises her 
         to found more monasteries. — 

 4. The bishop of Avila. — 

 5. Authority for the foundation 
       of two monasteries for men. — 

 6. Difficulty of finding friars 
       to begin the Reform. — 

 7. Generosity of God. 
Discussion of Chapter 2 
 In chapter 1, St. Teresa described the
   virtues and fruits 
  of  prayer and the primitive rule 
    in her nuns 
     (who once entered her convent 
         as worldly women )                                   [2]
 These fruits (among others) were: 
    Faith, Obedience, Detachment / Poverty of Spirit
    Zeal to help souls, Love of Solitude and prayer
In chapter 2, St. Teresa relates the visit to Avila 
     and to the Monastery of St. Joseph
 of  the Father-General of the Carmelite Order,
Fr. John Baptist Rubeo (Rossi) of Ravenna.
By her description, 
    we see the practical integraction of
  those virtues in her life and actions:              
           - her  Faith   in the Providence of  God,
           - her  Obedience, and 
           - her  Zeal to help souls
St. Teresa often said
  - that a virtue does not exist alone;
  - that when a person, with the help of  God,
     strives to practice one virtue 
         (e.g. Humility, Detachment) 
   that virtue will bring 
      all the other virtues "in its train".                 [1] 
Here, in Chapter 2, 
      in her description of the events, 
  - we see this intgration and interaction 
         of all the virtues
      in St. Teresa's  intentions and actions.
  - We see concrete practical examples of
          -- these fruits of these virtues and 
          -- how the virtues "fortify" eachother         [1]
  Obedience  to her superiors
     "for they stand in the place of God".
When opposition and obstacles hindered the 
     founding of the Monastery of St. Joseph, 
 it was through the Bishop that she was 
      ultimately permitted  to establish  this monastery
 and so,  it  became under his jurisdiction.
But now, at the visit of the Father General 
   of her Order, the Carmelite Order,
 she was distressed.
She would need to explain those circusmstances 
 why the Carmelite Monastery of  St Joseph  
    was "not under the jurisdiction of the friars.'' [3]
        "When he arrived in Avila
              I contrived he should come to S. Joseph's, 
          and the Bishop was pleased             
              that all reverence should be shown him 
          as to himself in person. 
        "I told him everything 
               in all simplicity and truth, 
         for my inclination is 
               to be simple and truthful 
         with my superiors, 
               come what may, 
         for they stand in the place of God".
         I am so with my confessors
               and if I were not
         I should not think my soul was safe"
                [ Foundations: Ch 2: Paragraph #2 ] 
  Faith in the Providence of the Lord
St. Teresa stated 
   that no  Carmelite Father-General of the Order 
   had ever come directly to Castille before.
           "but, as there is nothing impossible 
               if our Lord wills it, 
             His Majesty ordained that 
               what had never been done before 
             should be done now." 
                   [ Foundations: Ch 2: Paragraph #1 ]
But instead of  the general being "angry" 
    with the circumstances of the Monastery
"not under the jurisdiction of the friars...
   ...he regarded it  as a good work"
    ('the observance...of the primitive rule').

             "It cheered him 
                  to see our way of life, 
               a picture, however imperfect, 
                  of the commencement of our order, 
                  of the observance in all rigour 
               of the primitive rule, 
                   being well pleased
                      that a work thus begun 
                         should be carried on, 
                   - gave me the fullest authority
                        in writing 
                      to found more monasteries"
                     [ Foundations: Ch 2: Paragraph #2 ]
 A way was even found to return 
    the Monastery of St. Joseph 
 to the jurisdiction of the General 
 and, as would be,  subsequent foundations.

                  "Our Lord disposed it all 
                       far better than I thought."
                    [ Foundations: Ch 2: Paragraph #1 ] 
                  "The Love of God and Faith 
                        make that possible 
                   which is not   possible 
                       according to natural reason, 
                  "and so 
                   I,  knowing how much 
                     our most reverend general desired 
                   the founding of more monasteries, 
                     thought I saw them  already  built,
                  Remembering the words 
                      our Lord had spoken to me.
                     [ Foundations: Ch 2: Paragraph #3 ] 
                  'Wait a little, my child, 
                     and thou shalt see great things.' 
                      [ Foundations: Ch. 1: #7 ]
Also,  the Bishop, Don Alvaro de Mendoza,
    even after  the Monastery of St Joseph 
was no longer under his jurisdiction,
   requested  from the Father-General 
that  Carmelite Monasteries of Discalced Friars
   be founded in Avila in  his diocese.
                 "the Bishop, 
                         Don Alvaro de Mendoza, 
                   - who is extremely fond 
                         of helping those 
                      whom he sees striving to serve God 
                         in greater perfection, 
                   - obtained his consent for the foundation 
                         in his diocese of  monasteries 
                     of barefooted friars
                          of the primitive rule".
                              [ Foundations: Ch. 2: #4 ]
Regarding this matter and others,
St. Teresa said she
                 "put the matter earnestly 
                       before our Lord..."
                           [ Foundations: Ch. 2: #4 ]
Her Faith in the Providence of God
   gave her Courage and Hope 
against fears  and doubts:
                 "There was I, 
                       a poor barefooted nun, 
                   without any help whatever 
                       except in our Lord, 
                   having nothing but 
                     - the licence of the general and 
                     - my good desires, and 
                     - with no means whatever 
                            of carrying them into effect. 
                   Neither courage nor hope failed me, 
                      for as our Lord had given one thing 
                   He would also send the other
                   Everything seemed to me possible now, 
                       and so I began the work".
                                    [ Foundations: Ch. 2: #6 ]

                   "Oh, the greatness of God ! 
                     How Thou dost manifest Thy power 
                        in giving courage to an ant ! 
                     Now, O my Lord, 
                     the fault 
                         - is not Thine 
                             that those who love Thee 
                              do not do great things, 
                         - but in our cowardice 
                              and littleness of mind ! 
                     How we never make good resolutions 
                         without being filled with 
                           - a thousand  fears and 
                           - considerations of human prudence ! 
                       so, then, that is the reason
                          O my God, 
                       why Thou dost not show 
                          Thy greatness and Thy wonders. 
                       Is there any one more willing 
                           - to give to any one 
                                that will receive, 
                           - to accept services 
                                tendered at his own cost, 
                             than Thou art ? 
                                [ Foundations: Ch. 2: #7]

  Zeal for souls: 
    Zeal  to help souls progress to God

                 "I had great longings 
                    to help any soul whatever 
                  to draw nearer unto God".

    This Zeal for the welfare of souls is
       - the selfless Love for others
       - praying and working for the good of others.
    The founding of  monasteries 
         of nuns and friars 
    of the primitive rule
        was a fruit of her zeal for souls
    in that the foundations not only helped
         the nuns and friars progress to God,
     but also the people whom they ministered
        and for whom they prayed.
     Her Obedience and Faith fortified 
        the fruit  of her Zeal to help souls.

                         Foot Notes:
 From: "The Way of  Perfection": Ch. 38
    "For when the Lord
        really gives one of these solid virtues, 
     it seems to bring all the rest
        in its train: 
      that is a very well-known fact. 
     But I advise you once  more, 
         even if you think you possess it, 
     to suspect that you may be mistaken; 
         for the person who is truly humble
     is always doubtful about his own virtues; 
     very often they seem 
          more genuine and of greater worth
     when he sees them in his neighbours"
     "as regards both the virtue I have spoken of  
        and all the rest; 
     for when we really have 
        one of these solid virtues, 
      it brings all the rest in its train: 
         that is a very well-known fact".
 Bloggers' Note:
   Also, among those "solid virtues", 
       of which she often spoke, were:   
   Poverty of Spirit and Detachment
   ( not just lack of possessions 
      but the detachment  and freedom 
          from the desire 
      for possessions, honor, and control.
   Also, at other times, among other virtues,
      she  included  the virtue of Love.

 From: "The Way of Perfection"  Ch. 2
   "for, as Saint Clare said, 
          the walls of poverty are very strong. 
          ...with these walls...and 
             with those of humility,
          that she wished to surround her convents; 
              and assuredly, 
    if the rule of poverty is truly kept, 
          both chastity and all the other virtues 
              are fortified"
  From: The Foundations: Ch 1: Paragraph #1
 "During that time certain young persons 
     entered it as religious, 
    whose years were not many, 
   but whom, 
      the world...had already made its own, 
   if we might judge of them 
      by their outward manners and dress. 
   Our Lord very quickly 
       - set them free from their vanities, 
       - drew them into His own house, and 
       - endowed them with a perfection so great"

  From: "The Life": Ch, 33: Paragraph 18,19

 "it was painful to me 
        not to subject the monastery 
               to the Order, and
   our Lord had told me 
        that it was inexpedient to do so. 
 He told me the reasons 
   why it was in no wise convenient 
           that I should do it 
    but I must send to Rome 
           in a certain way, 
    which He also explained; 
 He would take care 
   that I found help there: 
 and so I did. 
 I sent to Rome, 
    as our Lord directed me, 
     -- for we should never 
         have succeeded otherwise, --
 and most favourable was the result.
 19. And as to subsequent events, 
  it was very convenient 
     to be under the Bishop, [495] 
  but at that time 
      I did not know him, 
       nor did I know what kind
           of a superior he might be. 
 It pleased our Lord 
  that he should be 
      as good and favourable 
               to this house 
       as it was necessary he should be 
          on account of the great opposition
               it met with at the beginning, 
               as I shall show hereafter,  
          and also for the sake 
                of bringing it to the condition
                       it is now in."
 See also "The Way of Perfection": Ch. v. # 10

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