Thursday, June 9, 2011

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

Written by Herself
J. H. S. 
1. Obedience.  
2. The Saint is bidden to write.  
3. She will be truthful.  
4. Her plan. 
5. The Saint makes excuses for herself. 
6. Takes pains to be exact. 


1. Obedience.  
1. Experience has shown me 
                  — setting that aside which 
                 I have read in many places — 
    the great blessing it is 
    for a soul never to withdraw 
         from under obedience
Herein lie, in my opinion, 
    growth in goodness 
    the gaining of  humility. 
Herein lies our security 
    amidst the doubts 
         whether we are not straying 
          from the heavenly road, 
which, as mortal men, 
    it is right we should have 
while we are living here on earth. 
Herein is found that rest 
    which is so dear to souls 
desirous of pleasing God; 
    for, if they 
       - have really resigned themselves 
              to holy obedience, 
      - have made their understanding 
              captive thereto, 
    seeking no other will 
           that of their confessor, 
                 and if religious 
           that of their superior, 
     Satan refrains from assailing them 
          with his continual suspicions, 
       seeing that he loses 
         rather than gains thereby. 
our  restless movements, 
         fond of 
           having their own way, 
                 and even of 
           making the reason subject to them 
                in those things 
             which can give us pleasure, 
   - cease, 
   - being reminded 
      that the will is definitely given up 
         to the will of God, 
      through that subjection of self to him 
         who stands in His place.
 As His Majesty of His goodness 
   has given me light 
to see the great treasure 
   hidden in this priceless virtue,
   I have laboured, 
      however weakly and imperfectly, 
   to possess myself of it,
   though the work is often irksome,
      because of the little goodness 
   I behold in myself; 
   for I see that it does not reach
     to some things 
   which I have been commanded to do. 
May His Divine Majesty 
  supply my shortcomings 
in the work now before me! 
2. The Saint is bidden to write. 
2. In the year 1562, 
    the very year in which 
this house of S. Joseph in Avila 
    was founded

    I was ordered 
          when in that house, 
    by my confessor, 
          the Dominican friar, 
    Father Garcia of Toledo, 
        to write the history of the foundation 
                of the monastery, 
    together with other matters, 
       which any one, 
               if it is ever published, 
        may see. 
I am now in Salamanca, in the year 1573
                   — eleven years have passed 
                        since then — 
    and my confessor, the Master Ripalda
            Father Rector of the Society, 
    has ordered me to write
     having seen the book containing 
            the story of the first foundation,
    "thought it would be a service 
           done to our Lord
if I 
   - committed to writing 
      the story of the other seven" monasteries 
          which, by the goodness of our Lord, 
      have since that time been founded,  
   - told at the same  time 
     how the monasteries of the barefooted 
           fathers of  the primitive rule began. 

  The history of the foundation of the 
        monastery of S. Joseph in Avila 
    begins with ch. xxxii. and 
        ends ch. xxxvii of the Life
    * The seventh monastery was that 
       of Alba de Tormes, and 
    the history of that foundation is given
        in ch. xx. 

 While I was looking on it 
    as a thing impossible for me, 
- because of the many things 
    I had to do
   — I had letters to write 
            and matters to transact, 
        from which I could not release myself,
            because they were assigned me 
        by the commandment of my superiors — 
     I was praying to God thereupon, 
        and somewhat distressed, 
- because I was able to do so little, 
- because my health was so weak — 
for even without this additional labour 
  I seem very often, and
  I am naturally worthless, 
      unable to bear my burden, 
Our Lord said to me, 
   'Child, obedience gives strength.'
       [ See Life, ch. xviii. 10 ]
May it please His Majesty 
   it may be so, and 
May He give me grace
   to enable me to relate to His glory, 
       the great things 
   He hath done for the order 
       in these foundations. 
3. She will be truthful.  
3. It may be held for certain 
that everything will be truly told, 
   without any exaggeration 
whatever, to the best of my knowledge, 
   exactly as it happened; 
for in matters even of the least importance 
   I would not tell a lie for anything 
on this earth.'* 
           [ *See Life, ch. xxviii. 6.]
In this my writing — 
     to the praise ot our Lord — 
an untruth would be a heavy burden 
    on my conscience, 
and I should believe it 
    to be not merely a wasting of time, 
but a deceiving of  others 
    in the things of God, 
Who would be offended, 
    not honoured, thereby: 
    it would be an act of high treason. 
May it please His Majesty 
    not to abandon me, 
that I  may not fall into that evil. 
4. Her plan. 
4. Each foundation 
   shall have its own story, 
and I shall try to be brief if I can; 
but my style is so heavy, 
that even against my will 
   I fear I shall be tedious
             to others and 
             to myself. 
However, my daughters, 
   to whom it is to be given 
when my days are ended, 
   will be able to bear with it 
out of the love that they have for me. 
May our Lord grant, 
      for I seek nothing for myself, and 
          have no right to do so, 
       but only His praise and glory 
          — for there are many things 
                   to be written here 
               for which men should praise Him — 
  that they who shall read it 
       may be very far from attributing 
  anything I have done  
       to myself, 
  for that would be against the truth; 
let them rather pray to His Majesty 
  to forgive me 
who have profited so little 
  by all His mercies. 
My children have much more reason 
   to complain of me herein 
than they have to thank me 
   for what I have done. 
Let us give all our thanks, my children,
   to the Divine Goodness 
for the many graces 
   He has given us. 
I ask, for the love of  God, 
   one Ave Maria 
of everyone who shall read this, 
   that it may help me 
         out of purgatory, 
         to arrive at the vision 
                of Jesus Christ our Lord, 
   Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost 
         liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. 
5. The Saint makes excuses for herself. 
5. I believe much 
    that is very important 
will be left untold, 
    because of the weakness of my memory;
other things will be told 
    which may well be forgotten: 
     in a word, it will be 
           all in keeping 
     with my scanty abilties and dullness, 
           and also 
     with my little leisure for writing. 
6. Takes pains to be exact. 
6. They bid me also, 
if I have the opportunity, 
     to speak 
             of prayer, and 
             of the delusions incident thereto 
              which keep men of prayer 
                   from making progress
I submit myself in everything 
   to the teaching 
of the Holy Mother Church of Rome *, 
   and am resolved 
that learned and spiritual men shall see it  
   before it shall reach your hands, 
       my sisters and my children. 
       [* The word, Romana,
            added later, between the lines, 
            but in the handwriting of the Saint. ]
I begin in the name of our Lord, 
   invoking the help 
         of His glorious Mother, 
               whose habit 1 wear, 
                     though unworthy of it, 
         of my glorious father and lord, 
                S. Joseph, 
                     in whose house I am: 
    for this monastery of  barefooted nuns
         is under his protection, 
    by whose prayers I am continually helped. 
In the year mclxxiii,
    the twenty-fourth day of August, 
the feast of saint Lewis, King of France. 
Praise be to God. 
Here beginneth the Foundation 
   of S. Joseph of the Carmel 
       of Medina del Campo 

        End  of the Prologue  
                  of the 
     Book of the Foundations     

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