Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Book of the Foundations - Discussion of Chapter 4 - St. Teresa of Avila - Teresa of Jesus

Discussion of Chapter 4

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

        Contents of Chapter  4


 1. A digression. — 
 2. Great prayers of the nuns. — 
 3. Dangers on the road of perfection. — 
 4. Confidence in God. — 
 5. Graces bestowed on the new Carmel. — 
 6. The graces of founders. — 
 7. Each nun in her day to be perfect. — 
 8. Graces of the first Carmelites.

   Discussion of Chapter 4 
St. Teresa seems to be looking back
 from the vantage point of  around  1571 - 1574
since she is referring to two events of 1571:
  - the founding of the Monastery at 
         Alba de Tormes 
      (founded Jan 25, 1571
 -  the notification that she would be
       sent as Prioress, 
           by order of her superiors,
       to the Monastery of the Incarnation 
           in Avila"
     (July 1571)
She refers to  the Monastery at 
   Alba de Tormes as the eighth and the "last".
In 1571, she was recalled 
   from her foundation work,
in order to be prioress 
   of the Monastery of the Incarnation
which needed strong spiritual guidance
   at that time.
But,  according to the Introduction,
and the various Foot Notes,
  we know she will resume 
her founding of monasteries in 1574.

17 monasteries  were founded.
 (To the last 2 of these 17 monasteries, 
    she sent other nuns to establish them.)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . .  .
St. Teresa wants to give
    "certain directions 
    whereby the prioresses may 
      - understand and 
      - guide their subjects 
        with greater advantage to their souls..."

          "Considering, then, 
           what in the spiritual order 
                 took place in these monasteries 
           during these years,...
                 [Foundation: Ch. 4: #1]
           (she saw) the necessity of saying:'
    The importance of :
        ▪ "obedience                
        ▪   a pure conscience" 
             to avoid deception and temptation
  She cautions:
       ▪ that even the devil "does not do us
          so much evil as our own 
          imagination and perverse humours,  
          particularly if we yield to melancholy"
     ▪ of the "self-love that rules us 
                is very subtle"
      ▪ persons "very often deceive themselves, 
                but without meaning it"
                   [Foundation: Ch. 4: #2]
     ▪ "Prayer and perfection
              because of our sins  (have)
            fallen so low in the eyes of the world"
 ▀ She recommends: 
      ▪   to walk in fear, 
      ▪   to pray to our Lord 
                   to teach us 
                   not to abandon us" 
      ▪     frequently 
            - think of God 
            - labour to be perfect in their lives. 
                       [Foundation: Ch. 4: #3]
      ▪    to  "go onwards humbly"
                        [Foundation: Ch. 4: #4]

       The Way of Perfection
       Chapter 40
 "how, by striving always to walk 
       in the love and fear of God
   we shall travel safely 
        amid all these temptations.

 The best way...   
 is to use the love and fear 
  given us by His Majesty. 
  For love will make us 
       quicken our steps, 
 While fear will make us 
        look where we are setting our feet 
    so that we shall not fall on a road 
        where there are so many obstacles." 


  She gives encouragement:
       Since God "frequently deliver(s) us 
               from dangers 
            into which we rush, 
               even so as to offend Thee..."
        she says 
            "He will surely deliver those    
             whose "only aim is
                - to please Thee,                            
                     and in Thee 
                 - to find our joy".           
                       [Foundation: Ch. 4: #4]
       The 4th paragraph 
           entitled "Confidence in God",
        reminds us again of
        - Faith in the Providence of God:
        - that through trials, 
               God may be leading one to Himself
                 in His secret judgment 
             may permit certain things 
                 to have diverse issues, 
             but what is good 
                  never ended in evil. 
                       [Foundation: Ch. 4: #4]
            "I never knew ...those...
                through the goodness of our Lord, 
              to have been abandoned by Him. 
              It was His will, 
                perhaps, to try them by these fears, 
              that they might learn by experience
                       [Foundation: Ch. 4: #2
         ▪ This, then...should be a means 
            - to make us strive 
                  to travel on the road more diligently, 
                 that we may 
                  -- please the Bridegroom 
                               the more 
                  -- find Him 
                               the sooner, 
                  but not to give up the attempt"
                          [Foundation: Ch. 4: #4]
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
  St. Teresa describes the growth of virtue
    of the Carmelite nuns in these monasteries:
    "His Divine Majesty began also
           to show His munificence 
      in these poor women 
          - "their good desires 
          -   their detachment 
                   from all created things
               for that must be 
                   what most unites a soul 
                      with its Maker
          - the conscience 
                      meanwhile being pure". 
         "...if the detachment be real 
             it is impossible 
          for any one  who has it 
             to offend our Lord"
         "in all their words and actions
             they never withdraw from Him

        so His Majesty seems to be unwilling 
           to withdraw from them. 
                        [Foundation: Ch. 4: #5]

St. Teresa also describes  
  the nuns' advancement in prayer:
Many have been led by God to Contemplation.

But, she also suggests 
that God leads each according 
  according to His will and
  according to what is best for them.
          "the graces wrought by our Lord 
              in these houses 
           are so great 
              that, if there sister 
           whom our Lord is leading 
              by the way of meditation, 
         all the rest are advancing 
              by the way of perfect contemplation"

           "to others,  
              our Lord gives His grace 
           in a different way"
                           [Foundation: Ch. 4: #8]

But, she reminds
   that spiritual consolations and favors are
       neither necessary for salvation
       nor  a sign of  holiness
       nor a guarantee of  security.

They are a gift from God 
      which can not be merited. 

                  "I know well 
                    that holiness does not lie herein"
                          [Foundation: Ch. 4: #8]

She wants to show 
   that in this way of life,
the life of the Primitive Rule
  where reserved times 
for solitude and prayer are observed,
  as well as labors for God,
the nuns, with the grace of God,
  were able to advance in prayer.

But she wants to clarify 
 that consolation in prayer 
   is not the aim 
   or something to be sought after.

Despite great  consolations from God,
  St. Teresa's writings  always emphasized
  - the dependence on the grace and will of God,
  - knowledge of one's own weakness and faults,
  - the fear of offending God.
 From:  The Interior Castle
                Mansion 5: Ch. 4
"For you are enjoying the companionship, 
   as we might say, of angels, 
  since, by the goodness of the Lord, 
    you have none of you any other desires 
  than to serve and please Him in everything.
  But when I read...
   that Judas 
      - enjoyed the companionship of the Apostles, 
      - had continual intercourse with God Himself, 
      - could listen to His own words, 
   I realize that even this 
      does not guarantee our safety. 
   ...if this soul invariably followed the will of God, 
        it is clear that it would not be lost. 
    But the devil comes with his artful wiles, 
    under colour of doing good, 
       sets about 
           undermining it in trivial ways, and 
           involving it in practices which, 
              so he gives it to understand, are not wrong; 
       little by little he 
           darkens its understanding, and 
           weakens its will, and 
           causes its self-love to increase, 
       until in one way and another 
       he begins
            to withdraw it from the love of God and 
            to persuade it to indulge its own wishes. 
      ...there is 
          no enclosure so strictly guarded 
              that he cannot enter it, and
          no desert so solitary 
              that he cannot visit it."  

She  advises  ( future Prioresses)
if they don't see these graces in their nuns,

   "let them not lay the blame on the times, 
     for all times are times 
         in which God will give His graces 
     to those who serve Him in earnest, 
      and then let them try to find out 
          where the fault is and amend it".
                  [Foundation: Ch. 4: #5]
      .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  
  St. Teresa spoke 
      of the founders of  religious orders.
   She recognizes and appreciates 
      their Love of God and their virtue.
   She prays that she and all the present 
      and  the future nuns
   will be faithful 
      to the charism, teaching, and example
   of the founders.

      "that upon them, 
           our holy fathers, gone before us, 
        our Lord poured down 
           more abundant grace 
        because they were 
         the foundation of the building"
                [Foundation: Ch. 4: #6]
       "for, as God chose them 
           for so high a work... 
        He gave them more abundant grace"   
                [Foundation: Ch. 4: #7]
        if we who are now living 
          fall not away 
      from the fervour of those 
        who have gone before us

       the building will stand 
          strong for ever". 
                [Foundation: Ch. 4: #6]
Of herself, St. Teresa said in this regard:

      "but I know well 
          it is my fault 
       that Thou dost not give me the graces 
          which Thou gavest to those 
          who have gone before me"...
"I see 
       I have wasted the fruit 
          of their labours..."
     "but if any one should see her order 
         falling away in anything, 
      let her labour to become herself 
         such a stone as that 
      the building may be raised up anew 
      for our Lord will help her in that work."
             [Foundation: Ch. 4: #7]

                    Foot Note:
 "She was 
    withdrawn from her own immediate work, 
    sent as prioress, 
           by order of her superiors,
        to the Monastery of the Incarnation 
           in Avila"
        This was "the house in which she had 
            made her profession"
         which was under the mitigated rule.
         She had left this convent
            when she had founded 
         in the same city of Avila,
             the Monastery of St Joseph 
         which was founded in poverty.  
          Its Constituiton and Rule was that 
             of the primitive rule.
 "The Apostolic Visitor, 
        Fray Pedro Fernandez, 
        of the order of S. Dominic,
   seeing the desolate state of that house, 
        (Monastery of the Incarnation )
     knew of no means of relief 
   except that of sending the Saint back to it. 
   He consulted with the superiors 
      of the order, and 
       with their full consent, 
        but on his own authority, 
        and in virtue of the power he had, 
    laid on S. Teresa, 
        without consulting the nuns  (there),
    the heavy burden of being their prioress,
          ( The monastery of the Incarnation 
                had not been founded in poverty, 
             yet it was more poor 
                than the poorest of those 
             which S. Teresa was founding. )
            It was so poor 
             that it could not give the nuns 
                food enough to sustain them, 
            the result was 
            that they asked for leave to go 
                to their kindred from time to time 
                to escape from the inconvenience
                     of hunger..."
 "Fray Pedro Fernandez, 
         the Apostolic Visitor, 
   - seeing the sad state 
     to which the monastery had been brought,
   - determined to make an eftort to save it, 
        and succeeded,
      for the Saint's administration of it,
         both temporally and spiritually, 
             answered all his expectations, 
             made the monastery what, perhaps, 
                it had never been before,
            though it had been the nursing-mother 
               of many holy souls, and 
               among them S. Teresa, herself."
               "In 1567 there were 
                      more than a hundred and fifty. 
                     See "Life" p. xii; 
                     Foundations, ch. ii. i."
        the poverty of the house and 
        the lax observance 
    were an evil, 
     nor could the Saint shut her eyes 
         to its disadvantage 
    when she was living in it, 
         though she made every excuse for it 
            in her power, 
        and had a strong affection for it.
 In the beginning ot July 1571 
    the Saint 
       knew of her appointment, 
       but was most unwilling to accept 
         the charge laid upon her: 
             (  'Life' , ch. xxxii. 12. )
             (  'Relation'  111. 11.   )
    our Lord upbraided her for holding back, 
      and then she yielded"
 In October she went 
     from her own house in Avila,
  having first renounced for herself, 
          13th July, 
  all the exemptions and mitigations 
         which were in force 
               in the monastery 
          to which she was going. 
 She had done so before, 
  now, for the greater security 
      of her conscience,
  she repeats her resolution 
      to observe the primitive rule 
  in all its severity".
     [Foundations: Introduction ] 

       End of  the Discussion 
             of Chapter 4 
                  of the 
       Book of the Foundations
          of S. Teresa of Jesus 
 of the Order of our Lady of Carmel 

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