Monday, June 27, 2011

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

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





        Discussion Content:
- The faculty of the Will.

- The essence of prayer.

- The  problem of 
     a lack of time in which to pray.

- The problem of  attachment to solitary prayer
     to the exclusion of  those obligations 
   necessitated by obedience and fraternal charity.

   What accounts for this problem.

- Obedience is the best way 
         to Conform the Will to God's Will.
    Summary  
In chapter 4, St. Teresa  gave advice 
    to the Prioresses of her foundations
regarding the cultivation of  prayer and virtue
  amongst their nuns.
Here, in Chapter 5, she continues with her advice:
 "There are many ways 
     in the way of  the Spirit"
             [Foundations: Ch. 5: #1 ]
  and she wants to discuss some of these ways,
     including prayer
             and also 
     including the works of Obedience and Charity.
Here, she teaches  of  the Will's role in
     Loving God           
           -  the essence of perfect prayer
           -  expressed through fraternal love
              'What ye did for one of these little ones,
                   ye did for Me.'     [ Mt 25:40]
     Conforming to God's will 
           - through intention 
                     leading to firm resolution 
                     leading to action

          - This resignation of one's will to God
                is cultivated by Obedience 
                    to one's superiors
                    to one's vocational duties

   Love, the Essence  of Perfect Prayer
       "Perfection lies in (loving God)
             rather than in thinking"
       "The good of the soul 
             does not consist in its thinking much, 
       but in its loving much
                               [Foundations: Ch. 5: #2 ]
          O my Lord ! 
          "how mighty before Thee 
              is a single sigh 
           rising up from the heart"
                               [Foundations: Ch. 5: #17]
To the extent that one can, the intellect 
     (understanding ) should be focused on God.
But, St. Teresa teaches 
 that it is the Will that leads us to God       
     through Love of God, resignation to God's Will,  
     intention and firm resolution and detachment.
     Through the faculty of the intellect,
        one places oneself in the Presence of  God
         and recalls His life and works 
     especially by active discursive meditative prayer:

     It is right... 
     "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"
     And that
     "the soul is not 
              the power of thinking, and 
       that the will is not ordered by it"
                                          [Foundations: Ch5: #2]
   "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, 
                         and 
       - by carrying out that resolution 
               into action
          whenever the opportunity occurs."
                       [Foundations: Ch5: #2]
    Resolution converted into Action:
       "A soul may attain to a firm resolution...
          ▪ by prayer,
             meditating 
               on the debt we owe our Lord, 
               on His nature and 
               on ours"
          ▪ by obedience, and 
          ▪ by love: responding to the needs and 
               for "the good of our neighbour"
                          [Foundations: Ch5: #3]



.
St. Teresa describes  a daily life of  Prayer
  in combination with the tasks of Obedience
  and the services of Love ( Fraternal Charity)
   She taught that Prayer
        - is the utmost path toward Union with God 
              and 
        - its fruits are 
              -- the growth of virtue                    
              -- good works.
       This growth in virtue includes 
             Love of God and fraternal love
       which, in turn, promotes advancement 
             in prayer and 
             in selfless good works.
       As one is led to advancement in prayer,
          the soul becomes more detached 
       and therefore more selfless in 
          its love of God and neighbor and 
          its performance of good works.
       She exemplified this by her own zeal 
          for the benefit of souls:
              "if they but see 
              that they can in any degree 
                 - help a single soul 
                      to advance, 
                           and 
                      to love God more, 
                           or 
                 - be able to comfort it in any way, 
                           or 
                 - rescue it from any danger ! 

               And when they cannot help them  in act,
                they have recourse to prayer, 
                    beseeching our Lord 
                 on behalf of the many souls"
                       [Foundations: Ch5: #5]
             
  She stated that the time devoted to solitary prayer
         shouldn't take up such a portion of the day
     that it hinders the fulfillment 
      of one's obligation 
         to Obedience and to Charity / Love
      "...obedience, and 
      the good of our neighbour, 
             ...which charity constrains us, 
      must not be hindered thereby
      for on such occasions, 
         when either of these two 
      is required of us, 
                      (   - obedience, and 
                          -  the good of our neighbour, 
                              ...which charity constrains us...)
      we must give up 
          for the time 
      that (meditation) which we so much long 
          to give to God"
 St. Teresa taught 
       that by obedience and charity,
       one directly gives service to God:
      "To give this up... 
             ( be(ing) alone
                  - meditating upon Him, and 
                  - rejoicing in His consolations )
        for either of the other two 
                   ( Obedience or the dictates of Charity )
            is to 
               - give pleasure to our Lord
                         and 
               - do it for Him"                                           
                         
               "so He Himself has said  
                 'What ye did 
                      for one of these little ones,
                      ye did for Me.'                      
                         [ Mt 25:40]
                    Chapter 5's Foot Note #4
                        refers to Charity / works of Love as:
                     "Leaving Christ for Christ"
                    Temporarily putting aside solitary prayer
                       in order to do 'for Him
         
            And is following Christ's own path:
                "...that which He chose for  Himself: 
                    Obedient unto death."
                       [Philippians 2:8]
                             [Foundations: Ch5: #3]
 Nevertheless, 
     she asserts the primary importance
           of  prayer and solitude 
     and encourages their resumption  
          when obedience and the needs of charity
     are not awaiting action:
               "Remember,  in all I say 
                         I am taking for granted 
                           that you run these risks 
                              under obedience 
                                     and 
                              out of charity
                           and if it be not so,
                              my conclusion always is 
                           that to be alone is better". 
                                [Foundations: Ch5: #16]
.


.
 St. Teresa  discusses the  problem of 
     a lack of time  in which to pray:
    One can't always have the opportunity
           to pray  in solitude 
         But even in the midst of activity and company 
           one can pray and recall the presence of God.
                   "we ought to desire to be  
                        alone even when employed...
                    ...this desire is ever present 
                    in those souls which really love God. 
                          [Foundations: Ch. 5: #16]
                    "he, who is a true lover, 
                        - loves everywhere
                               and 
                        - always remembers 
                              the object of his love."
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #17]  
                     "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."
                           [Foundations: Ch5: #18] 
 She, once, thought
     that her continuous activity and heavy duties
        which reduced her time for solitary prayer,
     would prevent her own spiritual advancement.
     But later she realized 
        ▪ that God greatly values
              obedience, resignation of the will, 
              and  one's intention to honor Him.
        ▪ that God in His Providence 
              will prepare and order one's duties
           so that by one's obedience for the love of God,
               one will make "great progress".
           "... thinking within myself...   
             that spiritual growth was not possible 
                amidst so much hurry and confusion..."

           "O Lord, how different are Thy ways 
                from what we imagined them to be !" 

           "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, 
                             and 
                   - 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...                      
                - spiritually growing and 
                - making great progress...
                      ...by faithfully observing, 
                               for the love of God,
                         the commands 
                               that are laid upon us..." 
                             [Foundations: Ch5: #6]
 St. Teresa provided a specific example of:
      - How God esteems the virtue of Obedience 
      - How, even in the midst of activity,
           God comes to us and we can be with Him.
      - How, if our solitary prayer time is curtailed
           by the necessitates 
              of obedience to duty or  fraternal charity, 
           that service is a prayer of love to God.
      - How one is disposed to spiritual progress  
         through the "labours of obedience and charity".
  She gives the examples of  Obedience 
      that she observed in the lives of  Priests.

    She describes a Friar, "under obedience, 
        charged with  laborious offices...
    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
            and 
      - to have a conscience without offence"
                                                                 

     "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, 
     and, 
     as nobody can rob them of Him, 
         nothing but the fear of losing Him 
      can give them any pain" 
             [Foundations: Ch5: # 7]

    St. Teresa said of him and of others,
     "I observed such spiritual prosperity  
         as made me marvel".
     "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. 
               [Foundations: Ch5: #8]

     She also  spoke of  a religious 
     - who "resolved... never to refuse 
           to do anything 
        that his superior enjoined him,
         whatever the labour might be"
     - who, fatigued after a full day of  labor,
         while obeying a command to dig in the garden.
                "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".
                      [Foundations: Ch5: #9]
.


.
  St. Teresa discussed  a possible problems of:
    - spending so much time in chapel 
        to the exclusion of  necessary  activities, 
            such as works of obedience and love.
      or 
    - disatisfaction due to  attachment 
        to the desire to be 
            "alone and absorbed in God
         even though (they)  were occupied 
            in other ways"
                         [ Foundations: Ch5: #4  ]
She goes on to explain two reasons 
which account for  remaining  
    too long in solitary prayer 
 to the exclusion 
    of their vocational active duties:
 ▪ The first  reason is self-love and 
        the desire for the consolations  of prayer.
                           [ Foundations: Ch5: #4  ]
 ▪ The second reason is the fear of offending God:    
        preferring to isolate oneself from the world
     as if one could avoid conflict and temptations.  
                           [ Foundations: Ch5: #15 ]

              St. Teresa discusses
               "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".
          This dissatisfaction, she says,  comes
                   "From two sources, I think: 
  
          ▪ one, and this is the chief
                    is  self-love...
          
                    that is, we would 
                         please ourselves 
                         rather than God. 

                    ...when a soul has begun to taste 
                    how sweet our Lord is,                    
                    it finds more pleasure in 
                         being at ease, 
                         abstaining from bodily labour, 
                                     and
                         receiving consolation".
                             [Foundations: Ch5: #4]
          ▪ "The second source                          
                         of this dissatisfaction, 
                    is that the soul seems to live 
                         in greater purity 
                    when left in solitude
                    because there are fewer opportunities 
                          therein of offending God...
                    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 
                      [Foundations: Ch5: #15]

     __________________________
 St. Teresa teaches regarding the first reason
     that someone may be attached to solitude:
     ▪ self- love 
        - seeking comfort and consolations in prayer
          so that  we "please ourselves 
                              rather than God".
    She advises that
        since the essence of perfect prayer 
             is Love for God,
        the works of  charity and obedience will,
             with the help of God, enkindle that love:
                     "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."
                                   [Foundations: Ch5: #18] 
       This sacrifice pleases God 
           - because of one's loving desire and  intention
                   "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...        
                        no opportunity of being alone
                     so that we might alone 
                        have the fruition of Thyself. 
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #17]
           - because that desire can be put to action
                   -- "to do and suffer for God"
                             [Foundations: Ch5: #2]
  
                   --  to"do it for Him"                                           
            
                'What ye did 
                               for one of these little ones,
                           ye did 
                               for Me.'   [ Mt 25:40]
                                 [Foundations: Ch5: #3]
       St. Teresa describes  a true lover of God:
                 "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"
                                  [Foundations: Ch5: #5]
                "but love
                    if perfect...
                 we forget our own pleasure 
                    in order to please Him 
                 Who loves us so much."
                                 [Foundations: Ch5: #10]
    So, according to "the many ways 
              ... of the Spirit",       
        Providence leads one in their vocation
           to many ways of prayer and labor.
  
       ▪ God "preparest its ways, 
          and orderest those things 
                we have to do, 
          so that we "find ourselves
              (through one's  daily vocational duties)
               - spiritually growing and 
               - making great progress" .
                           [Foundations: Ch5: #6]
       ▪ It is not one's choice to decide 
               their own way to serve God.
         That would be 
             - following their will,
                   not the will of God.
             - self-love
                   rather than love of  God
              - attachment 
                   rather than detachment.
         Through Humility and Obedience,
               one responds to the will of God
         through the commands of superiors
         and the necessitates of  charity and events.
           
               "It would be hard 
                  if we could pray only in secret places. 
               I see now that I cannot be alone 
                  for many hours" 
                       [Foundations: Ch5: #17]
     
        In the "Way of Perfection: Ch. 17, she wrote:
        "Reflect that true humility consists...
          - in being ready for what 
               the Lord desires to do with you 
             and happy that He should do it, 
                    and 
          - in always considering yourselves unworthy 
               to be called His servants".
        "Remember 
          that there must be someone 
               to cook the meals 
          and count yourselves happy in being able 
               to serve like Martha." [Luke 10:40]
        "what should it matter to us 
               if we do one of these things 
          rather than another ?"
        "let the Lord of the house do that, 
          for He 
            - is wise and powerful and 
            - knows what is fitting 
                 for you and 
                 for Himself as well. 
                     [Way of Perfection - Ch17]
                  "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; 
                           [Foundations: Ch5: #18]
                "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. 
                          [Foundations: Ch5: #14]

      _____________________________
 St. Teresa responds  to the second reason:
  (Because of the fear of offending God,
   one remains in solitude to avoid temptations.)
   a).  St. Teresa said 
          that one should proceed
            "not trusting at all to himself"
          but should "place..all his confidence in God".
                  [Foundations: Ch5: #16]
   b). The works of one's vocation
              under obedience to one's superior
         as well, as those necessitated by charity
              must override any fear. 
                        "Remember,  in all I say 
                         I am taking for granted 
                           that you run these risks 
                              under obedience 
                                     and 
                              out of charity
                           and if it be not so,
                              my conclusion always is 
                           that to be alone is better". 
                                [Foundations: Ch5: #16]
    
   c). That temptations can not be avoided.
        They are everywhere, 
         even in our own faults                    
                    
                          "the evil spirits and 
                           we, ourselves, 
                               are everywhere."
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #15]
   d). That "Trials show us what we are".
         Rather than being avoided, 
            they are an opportunity for growth
             ( Self-knowledge and Humility ).
          
         Trials lead to self-knowledge 
            of  our faults and weaknesses.
         They also, with the help of God, 
          can lead to Humility and the realization of
            - our dependence on God 
                    and 
            - that without Him, we can do nothing.
                 "if we but knew 
                   how great is our wretchedness ! 
                  There is danger in everything 
                   if we do not know it, 
                  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
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #17]
         
                 "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 ?" 
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #16]
              
         Through trials, one can grow 
            in grace and  
            in strength of purpose:
                 "our gain will be incomparably greater
                  though there may be 
                      more faults committed, and 
                  even some slight falls. 
                          [Foundations: Ch5: #16]
                   "and for that reason 
                    it is a great blessing to us
                       that we are under authority, 
                    so that we may 
                       discern our own meanness."
                           [Foundations: Ch5: #17]
   e). Love should not be restricted
                 "love must be made known
                     not in secret places, 
                     but in the midst of temptations"
                        [Foundations: Ch5: #16]
  
       Just as "There are many ways 
            in the way of  the Spirit",
                [Foundations: Ch. 5: #1 ]
       one is given many opportunities daily 
             to express love.
 .    


.
  From Obedience to Resignation of the Will
 Although Obedience and 
     Conformity of the Will to God's will 
are discussed throughout chapter 5,
     Paragraph 6 to 14 especially expounds these topics.
Included here is an excerpt from those paragraphs
 which were not already quoted above:
 Obedience - 
     the quick road to the highest  perfection:   
   "there is no road
            that leads more quickly 
       to the highest perfection 
               than this of obedience"
      
        "It is clear
         that (perfection / holiness )  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
                              and 
             - 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"

       "for our sufferings
         however great they may be, 
                are sweet 
         when we know 
                that we are giving pleasure unto God
                        [Foundations: Ch5: #10]

 "Why Obedience furnishes the readiest 
        or the best way 
      for arriving at so blessed a state"
                             
      ▪ The intellect can not be depended upon
          to conform to the Will to God.
         The discursive nature of  the mind's thoughts
          tends to accept, present, and endlessly rehash 
          rationalizations and dispensations in its favor.
             "can never be brought about 
                  by much reasoning"
             "...our nature and self-love 
                  can furnish so much on their side 
              that we shall never come to an end"
            "that which is most reasonable, 
                 ...seem folly 
              because we have no inclination to do it
                 ... (and) we have no liking for it"
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #11]
            "...when Satan sees...obedience
                 he suggests many difficulties 
             under the colour of some good, 
                 and makes it distasteful"
                               [Foundations: Ch5: #10]
           "this inward struggle... 
                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".
                         [Foundations: Ch5: #12]
      ▪  "Obedience (is) stronger than reasoning 
           St. Teresa explained 
           that to rely on Obedience is
              - to rely on God, 
                     not on ourselves, 
                            who can do nothing
                            who can deceive ourselves
           "...we are never absolute masters 
                  of our own will,
            so as to employ it purely and simply 
                  for God, 
            till we subject (our will) wholly to reason"
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #11]
           "the soul is not 
                   the power of thinking, and 
             that the will is not ordered by it"
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #2]
          "Obedience is the true means 
                 of bringing about that subjection
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #11]
  
          "To practice obedience to one's superior
            is the way of cultivating
                conformity to God's will"
       
            "...there is no better way 
                of finding this treasure 
            than that of toiling and digging...
               out of the mine of obedience
            "for...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".
             "... your preparation for attaining 
                 to that true union  
              ...which is that of
                  making our own will 
                    one with the will of God. 
               This is the union 
                   which I desire
                        and 
                   would have you all possess"             
                        Foundations: Ch5: #14]
 St. Teresa advises:   
        "Is there, then, any help for it ? 
         Yes...
          let the soul go to...
                 the superior or 
                 the confessor
           ...pleading no further 
           or thinking of its cause, 
        but relying on the words of our Lord
          who  saith, 
        'He that heareth you, heareth Me,'        
           regardless of its own will. 

        ...mak(ing)  Him thereby 
         Master of the free will 
           He has given us
        "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".
                            [Foundations: Ch5: #12]

         "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,               
               and 
           ▪ putting everything away 
               that may be displeasing unto Him". 
                    [Foundations: Ch5: #13]
.


.
    End of Discussion 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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