Monday, August 1, 2011

The Book of the Foundations - Chapter 12 - 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  
              CHAPTER 12

         Chapter 12 Contents
  - Of The Life of a Nun 
     Called Beatriz of the Incarnation
    Whom Our Lord Brought 
        to the Same Convent 
    Her Life Having Been So Perfect 
    And Her Death Such 
      That It Is Only Right To Remember Her  
   1. Beatriz of the Incarnation. — 
   2. Her obedience and patience. — 
   3. Offers herself to suffer 
         for great criminals. — 
   4. Her sufferings. — 
   5. Her sweetness in suffering. — 
   6. Her mortified life. — 
   7. Her humility. — 
   8. Her contentment. — 
   9. Her last illness. — 
 10. Death. — 
 11. Burial. 

           CHAPTER 12
1. Beatriz of the Incarnation
We had a nun in this monastery 
   whose name was Beatriz Onez,              [2]
   who was in some way related 
       to Dona Casilda
She came some years before her, 
   and her spirit 
       filled all with amazement, 
    seeing what great things 
       our Lord was working in her. 
The nuns and the prioress declare 
   that they never saw in her, 
during her whole life here, 
   anything whatever 
that might be regarded as an imperfection; 
they never saw her change countenance, 
  but always cheerful and modest
      — a certain sign of the inward gladness 
               of her heart. 
There was no gloom in her silence, 
  for, though a very great observer of silence, 
she was so in such a way 
   that nobody could call it singular. 
She was 
    never heard to utter a word 
       with which fault could be found,          [3] 
    nor known to have preferred 
        her own opinion. 
She never made an excuse for herself, 
    though the prioress, 
         in order to try her, 
    would find fault with her for things 
          she had not done, 
    as is the custom in these houses 
           by way of mortification. 
    never complained of anything, 
    never of any of her sisters; 
    never by word or look 
        did she hurt the feelings of  anybody 
              in all the duties she had to do, 
    nor did she ever give anybody reason
         to think that there was 
             any imperfection in her, 
    nor was it possible to accuse her 
         in chapter of any shortcomings, 
     notwithstanding the very trifling nature 
               of the faults 
         which the correctors of faults there 
               say they have observed. 
Her outward and inward tranquillity 
    in all circumstances was marvellous: 
it had its source 
    in her ever thinking 
         of eternity,  and 
         of the end 
              for which God has made us. 
The praise of God was ever in her mouth,  [4]
and she was always making thanksgivings; 
In a word, 
    she was always in prayer. 
2. Her obedience and patience. — 
As to obedience 
    she never failed in that, 
but did whatever 
    she was commanded to do  
           readily, perfectly, and with joy. 
Her love of her neighbour was very great, 
   for she used to say 
 that she would resign herself 
   to be cut into a thousand pieces 
       for any one, 
   on the condition 
       that he 
            did not lose his soul, 
            came to the fruition 
                 of  her brother, Jesus Christ: 
        for so she was wont to speak 
            of our Lord. 
Her sufferings
        — they were very grievous — 
   caused by fearful sickness, 
        of which I shall speak later on, 
and her most distressing pains, 
    she bore most willingly and joyously, 
as if they were 
    great consolations and delights. 
Our Lord must have filled her soul with joy, 
   for in no other way was it possible, 
so great was the joy 
   with which she bore them. 
3. Offers herself to suffer 
         for great criminals. — 

It happened that certain persons, 
    for great offences, 
  were to be burnt in the city of Valladolid. 
She must have known 
   that they were about to die 
        not so well prepared 
  as they should have been, 
which caused her the most painful distress; 
so she went in great trouble to our Lord, 
    - begged of Him most earnestly 
          the salvation of those souls, and 
    - offered in return 
         to suffer all her life long 
              every pain and torment 
                 she could bear, 
         either in exchange 
              for that which they had deserved 
              for the securing their salvation, 
    for I do not remember distinctly 
        the words she used. 
That very night 
    her first attack of fever came on, 
    she was always afterwards in pain 
        till she died. 
The criminals made a good death, 
   which seems to show 
 that God heard her prayer. 
4. Her sufferings. — 
Then an abscess formed, 
  which caused the most frightful suffering, 
   required for its endurance all the courage
     with which our Lord had filled her soul. 
It was an inward abscess, 
the medicines 
           which they gave her 
    did her no good, 
           in the good pleasure of our Lord, 
    it opened of itself 
    discharged the matter gathered within it; 
    this brought her some relief from pain. 
In her eagerness to suffer 
    she was not satisfied with a little, 
and accordingly, 
     on the feast of the Holy Cross, 
while hearing a sermon, 
     this desire to suffer so grew upon her
 that, the sermon over, 
     she threw herself, weeping abundantly, 
          on her bed; 
     and on being asked 
          what so distressed her, 
       begged her sisters to pray to God 
           to send her much suffering, 
       and she would then be happy. 
5. Her sweetness in suffering. — 
To the prioress 
     she spoke of all her interior life, 
   and that was a consolation to her. 
Throughout her whole illness,  she 
    never gave any one 
       the least trouble in the world, 
    nor did she at any time 
         do anything 
          but according to the will 
               of the infirmarian, 
          even to the drinking a drop of water. 
It is very common 
     for souls  given to prayer 
   to wish for sufferings 
     when they have none, 
but it is not common for many, 
   when they have  them, 
        to bear them and be glad. 
She was so worn 
        by her illness and 
        by the excessive pain 
    that she did not last long; 
and there was also an abscess in the throat, 
    so that she could not swallow. 
Some of the sisters were standing around her
when she said to the prioress, 
                   as it was her duty, 
            was comforting her and 
             encouraging her 
                  to bear so much suffering, 
    - that she had no pain, and 
    - that she would not change places 
          with any of her sisters 
      who were strongest in health. 
She kept her eyes 
    so fixed on our Lord, 
        for whom she was suffering, 
    that she kept her secret to herself 
        as much as she could, 
    in order that those who were about her 
        might not see how much 
             she had to bear; 
and so, 
    unless when the pain was sharp, 
she hardly complained at all. 
She thought 
     there was nobody in the world 
so worthless as herselt, 
and accordingly, 
     so far as we could see,
 her humility was great. 
6. Her mortified life. — 
She had a very great pleasure 
   in speaking of the goodness of other people;
in mortifying herself 
   she was very severe; 
in withdrawing from everything
   that could give her any satisfaction 
she used so much art 
   that nobody could have observed it 
who did not watch her 
    with great attention. 
She seemed as if she 
     neither lived with
     nor conversed with creatures, 
 so lightly did she regard them; 
for, whatever happened, 
  she bore it all with a calmness 
that nobody ever saw disturbed. 
So much so, 
 that one of the sisters told her 
   she resembled certain persons 
whom the world thinks honourable, 
   who, if they were dying of hunger, 
        would rather do so 
    than that anybody should know it, 
    for the sisters could not believe 
       that she did not feel certain things, 
    though she never showed any signs 
       of doing so. 
7. Her humility. — 
     work she had to do or 
     duties to discharge, 
  all was done for one end, 
     so that she lost the  merit of none; 
and so she used to say to the sisters, 
     'The most trifling things we do, 
      if we do it for the love of  God, 
           is beyond all price; 
      we ought not to turn our eyes 
           in any direction 
      but for that, and to please Him.' 
As she never meddled with anything 
  that was not part of her work, 
so she saw nothing amiss in anybody, 
   but only in herself
It distressed her so much 
    if anybody spoke well of her 
that she was careful 
    never to praise anybody 
who was present, 
   to avoid giving them pain. 
8. Her contentment. — 
She never sought her own ease, 
    either by going into the garden 
    or in any created thing, 
    for it would have been a rudeness, 
        as she used to say, 
    to seek relief from the pains 
        which our Lord sent her; 
    so she never asked for anything, 
    but was always satisfied 
        with whatever was given her. 
She used to say, also, 
   that it would have been a cross 
        rather to her 
   to take comfort 
        in anything 
        but God. 
The fact is, 
 I sought for information about her 
    from those in the house, 
and there was not one 
   who had ever observed anything in her 
that did not savour 
    of a soul of high perfection. 
9. Her last illness. — 
When the time was come 
    when our Lord was pleased 
  to take her out of this life 
     her sufferings grew, 
     she laboured 
          under so many diseases at once
      that the mere sight 
          of her contentment under them, 
      drew the nuns often to visit her, 
           because it made them praise our Lord. 
In particular the chaplain, 
    who was 
           the confessor of the monastery 
           a very great servant of God, 
     had a great wish to be present at her death;
      he, having been her confessor, 
        looked upon her as a saint. 
God was pleased 
     to grant him his desire, 
 for, as she was in the full possession 
     of her understanding, 
  having already received 
      the last anointing, 
they sent for him to 
     absolve her and 
     help her to die, 
  if his services should be needed that night. 
A little before nine o'clock, 
   when all the sisters were with her, 
and he himself also, 
    all her sufferings ceased, 
about a quarter of an hour before she died. 
10. Death. — 
She then in great peace 
    lifted up her eyes; 
there was a joyous expression in her face,  
       which seemed to shine, 
while she herself was 
       as if gazing at something 
  that filled her with gladness, 
       for she smiled twice. 
All the sisters around her 
    and the priest himself, 
         so great was the spiritual joy and delight
         they then felt, 
   could only say
      that they thought themselves in heaven. 
In that joy I am speaking of, 
  with her eyes directed to heaven, 
she drew her last breath, 
   looking like an angel; 
for we may believe, 
   because of our faith and her life, 
that God took her into His rest 
   in recompense of her earnest desires 
          to suffer for His sake.                       [5]
11. Burial.
The chaplain declares, 
  and he has said so to many, 
that at the moment 
   her body was laid in the tomb
 he perceived a most powerful 
   and most sweet smell arising from it. 
The sacristan sister also declares
 that not one of the candles 
         that were burning 
         during the funeral rites and the burial   
  suffered the least diminution of the wax. 
All this we may believe 
   of the mercy of God. 
I spoke of it to a confessor of hers, 
   of the Society of Jesus, 
to whom she had for many years 
                    gone to confession, and 
     who had the care of her soul, 
and he told mc 
  that there was nothing singular in it, 
  that it did not surprise him, 
  for he knew 
    that our Lord conversed much with her. 
May it please His Majesty, my children, 
   to enable  us to learn 
how to profit by a companionship  
   good as hers was, 
 and that of many others 
   whom our Lord gives us in these houses ! 
Perhaps I  may say 
   something about them, 
in order that they 
   who are a little lukewarm 
may do violence to themselves 
   and imitate them, 
and that all of us may praise our Lord, 
   who thus makes His greatness shine forth 
       in a few poor weak women. 

         Foot Notes:
  "The title of this chapter is apparently 
    in another hand." 
 Dona Beatriz Onez was a native of Arroyo, 
    near Santa Gadea. 
 Her parents were connected with the family 
   of the Adelantado of Castille. 
 Judith, viii. 28: 
   "Et non est in sermonibus tuis 
       ulla reprehensio.'"
   "there is nothing to be reprehended 
       in your words"
 Ps. xxxiii. 2:
  'Semper laus eius in ore meo.' 
 "I will bless the Lord at all times, 
  His praise shall be always in my mouth"
 Beatriz of the Incarnation 
   — that was her name in religion - 
   made her profession in Valladolid, 
         17th September 1570, 
   and died, 5th May 1574. 
 The conventual register erroneously
    says 1573. 
 Saint Teresa had occasion to complain 
    of the want of exactitude 
  of a relation of this remarkable life, 
    and therefore undertook to write it herself. 
 See Letter of 2nd November 1576.

              End of  Chapter 12 
                       of the 
          Book of the Foundations
             of S. Teresa of Jesus 
  of the Order of our Lady of Carmel  

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