Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Book of the Foundations - Chapter 16 - 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 16 

        Chapter 16 Contents
 Of Certain Things That Took Place 
    In This Convent Of S. Joseph Of Toledo,    
 To The Honour And Glory Of God 
 1. Ann of the Mother of God. — 
 2. Resigns her possessions 
       before being professed. — 
 3. Obedience of the nuns. — 
 4. Austerities. — 
 5. Death of a nun. — 
 6. Peaceful death of Carmelites. — 
 7. Story of a gambler. — 
 8. Penitent in the hour of death. 
          CHAPTER 16
1. Ann of the Mother of God. 
I have thought it well 
    to say something of the way 
in which certain nuns laboured
    in the service of our Lord, 
in order that they 
    who shall come after them 
      may endeavour to imitate 
     these good beginnings. 
Before the house was bought 
   there came in a nun, 
       Anne of the Mother of God,            [1]
       forty years of age, 
   who had spent her whole life 
       in the service of God; 
    and, though in her state and household 
          there was no want of comfort, 
          for she lived alone 
              and had property, 
      she chose rather the poverty 
              and obedience in the order, 
      and accordingly came to speak to me. 
 Her health was not strong, 
   but when I saw a soul 
          so good and 
          so determined 
      I looked on it as a good beginning 
          for the foundation, 
    and so I admitted her. 
It pleased God 
   to give her 
        much better health 
             in her life of austerity and obedience 
        than she had 
             in the midst of her comforts, 
              and while she had her liberty. 
2. Resigns her possessions 
       before being professed. — 

What excited  my devotion, 
 why I speak of her here is this: 
    before she made her profession
          - resigned all her possessions 
                   — she was very rich — 
          - gave them as an alms to this house. 
   I was distressed about this, 
       refused my consent, 
    telling her 
       that perhaps 
             she might repent of it herself, 
             we might not admit her 
                    to her profession, 
       that it was a dangerous thing to do, 
      though if it should so happen, 
         we should not send her away 
              without giving back 
         what she had given to us ; 
        but I wished to show her 
             the worst side of the case 
        for two reasons
        firstly, that there might be 
             no occasion for temptation; 
        secondly, to try her spirit the more. 
Her answer was,
that if it should so happen 
     she would beg her bread 
          for the love of God
and I could get no other answer from her. 
She lived in the greatest happiness, 
     and her health was much better. 

3. Obedience of the nuns. — 
3. So mortified and obedient 
   were the nuns 
 that while I was there 
    I had to watch 
        what the prioress was saying, 
    for the sisters did what she told them
    though she might be speaking 
        without reflection. 
One day, when looking at a pond 
  in the garden, 
the prioress said to them, 
   'What will happen if I tell her ' 
                    — meaning a sister 
                    who was standing close by — 
       'to throw herself in ?' 
She had no sooner spoken thus 
   than the sister was in the water, 
      and so much wetted 
   that it was necessary to change her habit. 
On another occasion 
            — I was present myselt — 
the nuns were going to confession, 
    and the one who was waiting 
        for the other 
             to come out of the confessional 
    went up to the prioress and spoke to her; 
 the prioress said, 
     What is this ? 
     Was that a good way to recollect herself. 
    Let her put her head in the well, 
       and there think of her sins.' 
The sister understood 
    that she was to throw herself 
         into the well, 
         and made such haste to do so 
    that, if  they had not quickly 
          gone after her, 
    she would have thrown herselt in, 
          thinking she was doing 
     the greatest service in the world to God. 
4. Austerities. — 
I could tell other things 
        of the same kind, 
    showing their great mortification
so much so 
that it became necessary 
    for learned men 
       - to explain to them 
              wherein obedience consisted
       - to lay some restraints upon them, 
    for they were doing strange things, 
and if it had not been 
    for their good intentions 
their demerits would have outweighed 
    their merits
And it was thus 
    not only in this monastery 
       — I happen to be speaking 
             of this alone now — 
    but in all; 
so much is done 
that I could wish 
    I were not concerned in them,                 [3] 
that I might speak thereof 
    to the honour of our Lord 
      in His servants
5. Death of a nun. — 
When I was there 
     one of the sisters                                     [4]
  became sick unto death. 
When she had received the Sacraments, 
   and the last anointing 
         had been administered, 
 her peace and joy were so great 
   that we felt we could ask her 
   to recommend us 
       to God in heaven, and 
      to the saints 
            to whom we had a devotion, 
    as if she were only departing 
            for some other country. 
Shortly before she died 
     I went in to remain with her,
  having been before 
    the Most Holy Sacrament 
  to beg for her a good death 
     from our Lord. 
And so, when I went in, 
I saw our Lord 
   standing in the middle of the bed's head   
   with his arms a little extended,
         as if protecting her. 
He said to me                                          [5]
that I  might be certain 
   He would in the same way 
         protect all the nuns 
   who should die in these monasteries, 
   that they ought not to fear temptations 
        in the hour of death. 
I was greatly 
    comforted and recollected, 
and after a little while 
    I spoke to her, 
    when she said to me, 
     'Oh, mother, 
       what great things I have to see ! ' 
and thus she died as an angel. 
6. Peaceful death of Carmelites. — 
I observed in some nuns 
   who died afterwards 
a certain peace and quiet 
    which was like a trance 
        or the tranquillity of prayer, 
     with no signs of any temptation whatever. 
I trust, therefore,
    in the goodness of God
that He will have compassion on us 
    in the hour of death, 
  through the merits
          of His Son, 
          of His glorious Mother, 
                 whose habit we wear. 
Let us then, my daughters,
    strive to become true Carmelites
for the journey will soon be over; 
  and if we knew 
      the distress 
            that comes upon men at this time, 
      the cunning and deceit 
             with which Satan tempts them, 
  we should make much of this grace
7. Story of a gambler. — 
I am now reminded of one thing 
   I should like to tell you, 
for I knew the person, 
   and indeed he was somewhat of kin 
       to some of my kindred. 
He was a great gambler,  
   and was not without some learning, 
by means of which 
   the devil began to deceive him, 
   making him believe 
    that it was of no use whatever
       to repent in the hour of death. 
He maintained this so resolutely 
  that they could not persuade him 
     to make his confession; 
all reasoning with him 
   was to no purpose, 
and all the while 
    he was extremely sorry 
and penitent for his wicked life. 
But he would say, 
   why should he confess, 
for he saw that he 
    was already damned ? 
A Dominican friar, 
         a learned man and his confessor, 
    did nothing but reason with him, 
but Satan suffested answers 
    so subtle that all was in vain. 
8. Penitent in the hour of death. 
He remained in this state 
    for some days. 
His confessor did not know 
   what to do, 
but he and others must have prayed 
   very earnestly to our Lord, 
for the sick man found mercy
His disease, 
    being now very serious, 
           — a pain in the side — 
the confessor came again, 
    and he may have brought with him 
        more arguments carefully considered
    wherewith to answer him, 
but he would not 
    have gained his cause 
if our Lord had not had compassion 
    upon him 
by softening his heart. 
He sat up in his bed 
    as if he had not been ill, 
and said,
   'As you tell me 
    that my confession 
        may do me good, 
    well, then, I will make it,' 
and sent for a clerk or notary, 
I do not remember which, 
  and made a solemn oath 
       to abstain from play hereafter 
       to amend his life, 
   of which they were to be witnesses. 
He made his confession most humbly,
    and received the sacraments 
        with such devotion 
 that, as far as we can judge 
    according to our faith,
 he was saved. 
May it be 
     the good pleasure of our Lord, 
             my sisters,
 that we may 
     live as true daughters 
             of the Virgin, 
     keep our rule, 
that our Lord may show us the mercy 
   which He has promised us ! 

           Foot Notes:
  Ana de la Palma 
       was a wealthy widow, 
        and had been so for twenty years, 
       living a most holy life in her own house. 
   She was forty years old 
       when she entered the order, 
    and made her profession in Toledo, 
       15th  November  1570, 
    and died the death of the just 
         in Cuerva, 2nd November 1610.
 As S. Teresa wrote first
    'and spoke to me and I said to her . . . .' 
  it appears that in this case 
     she herself made this unfortunate remark. 
 She afterwards corrected the text as above. 
  A very devout young lady, 
       whom Yepes knew, 
   wished to become a nun, 
   and, with the approbation of the Saint, 
     was on a given day 
            to enter the monastery. 
    But the evening before 
      she had something to say to S. Teresa, 
    and went to the monastery 
       to see her. 
    When she had finished 
        she said to the Saint 
      while taking leave, 
    'Mother, I will also bring my Bible.' 
     Bible, child?' 
         said the Saint with great earnestness. 
    'No, you shall not come here; 
       we do not want you or your Bible, 
     for we are ignorant women, 
      and do nothing but spin and obey.' 
     She was not received, 
      and by degrees, 
        giving way to her curiosity, 
      fell into the hands of the Inquisitors, 
       and had to make a public confession 
         of her faults 
        [ Yepes, bk. ii. ch. 21). 
      [Blog note: 
      Yepes -- Fray Diego de Yepes, 
       Vida de Santa  Teresa, 
       Biography of St. Teresa
        Madrid, 1615]
   Sister Petronila of S. Andrew 
   [ Reforma, bk. 11. ch. XXVI. #5 ].
    She  was a native of Toledo, 
     and made her profession 
           23rd March 1571. 
     [ Fuente, vol. vi. p. 71 ].
  There are, however, chronological   
   difficulties which seem to make it 
   doubtful that she could have been
      the nun referred to. 
  There is a painting 
       at the convent of Toledo 
   representing this scene. 

            End of  Chapter 16 
                     of the 
          Book of the Foundations
             of S. Teresa of Jesus 
  of the Order of our Lady of Carmel  

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