Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Book of the Foundations - Chapter 18 - 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 18          XVIII

            Chapter 18 Contents
  - Of The Foundation Of The Monastery 
      Of S. Joseph At Salamanca
      In The Year 1570
  - Treats Of Some Important Counsels 
          For Prioresses 
   1. The Saint is invited to Salamanca.— 
   2. Hires a house. — 
   3. Leaves Avila for Salamanca. — 
   4. Laboriousncss of the Saint. — 
   5. Increased joy of the nuns. — 
   6. Strictness of the Carmelite rule. — 
   7. Indiscreet zeal of prioresses. — 
   8. Discretion necessary. — 
   9. Spiritual and intellectual gifts. — 
 10. Nuns not to be driven 
       towards perfection. — 
 11. Imperfections to be borne with. — 
 12. The prioresses to be cautious 
       in tasking the obedience of the nuns. —  
 13. Simple obedience of a nun. — 
 14. Another instance.  —

          CHAPTER 18     
1. The Saint is invited to Salamanca
When these two foundations                       [1]
   had been made, 
I returned to the city of Toledo                   [2]
   where I rested for some months 
till the purchase of the house 
   spoken of before  was made,                   [3]
and everything had been settled. 
While I was thus occupied,
    a rector  of the Society of Jesus              [4]
          in  Salamanca 
wrote to me to say 
   that a monastery of our order 
          would be most useful there, 
   at the same time giving me reasons
          for thinking so. 
I had been hitherto kept back 
   from founding a house in poverty there, 
because the place was  very poor.              [5]
But, considering 
that Avila is quite as poor, 
that God never abandons, 
     nor ever will, I believe, 
         abandon any one who serves Him
I determined to make the foundation,
   making such reasonable arrangements 
         as I could, 
   having but a few nuns, 
       and they helping themselves 
   by the labour of their hands. 
Going, then, 
       from Toledo to Avila, 
I applied from that place 
       for the permission of the bishop,        [6] 
   obtained it; 
the bishop was very gracious, 
  for, as the father rector showed him 
     - what the order is, 
     -  that the monastery would be 
             for the service of God, 
  he gave his permission at once. 
2. Hires a house.  
I thought myself, 
   when I had the permission 
        of the ordinary, 
    that the monastery was already founded, 
        so easy was everything to do. 
And so I contrived at once 
    to hire  a house,                                       [7]
which a lady I knew 
    told me of. 
It  was a difficult matter, 
   because it was not a season 
         for letting houses, 
   because it was then 
         in the possession of certain students, 
     who were persuaded to give it up 
     whenever the persons came 
         who were to live in it. 
They knew nothing of the purpose 
   for which it had been hired, 
for  I took the very greatest care of that; 
nothing was to be known
   till after taking possession, 
because I  have some experience now 
   of what the devil does 
to embarrass one of these monasteries. 
Though God did not suffer him 
    to molest this at the first, 
because He would have it founded, 
yet afterwards the trouble and 
  the opposition we met with 
       were so great 
  that everything is not, 
      even now while I am writing, 
              quite got over, 
notwithstanding that it has been founded 
       for some years; 
and so I believe 
    that God is greatly pleased with it, 
seeing that Satan cannot endure it. 
3. Leaves Avila for Salamanca. 
Then, with the license of the bishop 
and the house secured, 
    relying on the mercy of God 
      — for there was nobody there 
              who could give me any help at all 
           in supplying the many things 
               that were necessary 
           for the furnishing of that house — 
  I set out for the place, 
    taking with me only one nun,                  [8]
 for greater secrecy. 
I found it better to do so
   than to take the nuns 
till I had taken possession, 
for I had received a lesson 
   by what took place in Medina del Campo, 
 when I tound myself  there in great straits. 
Now, if any difficulties arose, 
   I should bear them by myself, 
with only one nun, 
   whom I could not travel without. 
We arrived on the eve of  All Saints, 
    having travelled a great part of the night 
before in the excessive cold, 
   and slept in one place,
       being myself,  very unwell. 

4. Laboriousness of the Saint.  
In giving an account 
    of these foundations 
I do not speak of the great hardships 
    of travelling in eold, heat, and snow. 
Once it snowed
   the whole day long, 
at other times we missed our road, 
and again I had sicknesses and fever; 
for, glory be to God, 
  my health is generally weak, 
but I saw clearly 
  that our Lord was giving me strength. 
It has happened to me 
   from time to time, 
while occupied in these foundations, 
        to find myself 
  amidst such pains and sufferings 
        as distressed me much, 
  for it seemed to me 
    if  I were then even in my cell, 
  I could have done nothing 
      lie down on my bed, 
      turn to our Lord, 
      complaining to His Majesty,

      asking Him 
        how it was 
        that He would have me 
           do what was beyond my power. 
  His Majesty would then 
      give me strength,
       not without suffering however, 
   and in the fervour and earnestness 
      with which He filled me, 
   I seemed to have forgotten myself. 
So far as I remember at present 
  I never refrained 
from making a foundation
  through fear of trouble, 
though I felt a great dislike to journeys, 
  especially long ones ; 
but when I had once started,
  I thought nothing of them, 
    - looking to Him 
        in whose service they were undertaken, 
     - calling to mind 
          that our Lord would be praised
          that the Most Holy Sacrament 
                would dwell, in the house 
           I was going to found.                  
It is a special joy to me 
   to see one church more, 
when I consider 
   how many (churches)
     (those who left or are against the church)
    are destroying. 
I know of no trouble, 
    however great it may be, 
that should be dreaded 
    when it is the condition of obtaining; 
so great a good for Christendom; 
and it should be 
    a great consolation to us 
                  — though many among us 
                       do not think ot it — 
    that Jesus Christ, 
            true God and true man, 
       dwells, as He does, 
            in so many places 
            in the Most Holy Sacrament
5. Increased joy of the nuns. 
Certainly, as for myself, 
I have a great consolation 
   frequently in choir 
when I behold these souls, 
   so pure, 
   intent on the praises of God, 
nor does it fail me 
   on many other occasions, 

for it is joy to me          
  to see 
    - their obedience and happiness, 
               so strict an enclosure 
         supply them, and 
    - their cheertulness 
          when they have any opportunity 
           of mortifying themselves. 
Whenever the prioress is enabled
   by a greater grace from our Lord
        to try them herein, 
 there I see the greater happiness; 
and the prioress then
    is more wearied of trying them 
than they (the nuns) are of obeying, 
  for their desires are never  satisfied herein. 
6. Strictness of the Carmelite rule.  
Though I may be wandering 
  from the story of  the foundation 
which I had begun to describe, 
   certain considerations 
       now suggest themselves to me 
   on the subject of mortification, 
   and perhaps, my children, 
       they will be of service to the prioress; 
   so, lest I should forget, 
       I will now tell them. 
As the prioresses have 
   different gifts and virtues
so they wish 
   to direct their nuns accordingly. 
   who is most mortified 
will look upon 
          everything she may order 
               for the purpose 
          of subduing the will 
               as easy to do: 
it may be so for her, 
and yet perhaps 
   it may be very hard to obey. 
This is what 
   we have seriously to consider:
 we are not to command others to do 
   what seems very hard to ourselves. 
Discretion is a great thing 
    in government, 
 and exceedingly necessary 
    in these houses 
                     —  I am going to say 
                               much more necessary
                           than in others — 
 because the prioresses here 
    have to watch more carefully over 
       the interior state and 
       the outward demeanour 
    of their subjects. 
Other prioresses of much spirituality 
   would be glad 
if all were given to prayer. 
In a word, 
our Lord leads souls onwards 
   by different roads;
the prioresses, however, must consider 
   that they have not been appointed 
to guide souls by the road                         
  which they like themselves, 
but rather to direct their subjects
   according to the rule and constitutions
even it they have to do violence 
   to themselves herein, 
and prefer another way. 
7. Indiscreet zeal of prioresses.  
I was once in a monastery of ours 
   with a prioress 
for whom penance 
    had a great attraction.                              [9]
    She directed all the sisters
       by that way. 
   At one time the whole community 
      took the discipline, 
   reciting the seven penitential psalms
      with the prayers, 
   and had other observances 
      of the same kind. 
The same thing happens 
   if the prioress be given to prayer
   she occupies the community therein, 
      though it be not 
           the time for prayer, 
      even after matins, 
      when it would be much better 
           if all the nuns went to sleep. 
If, again, 
she is given to mortification
    there is to be no rest anywhere, 
and those poor flocks of the Virgin 
    are silent like lambs. 
All this, certainly, is to me 
    - a source of shame and devotion, and 
at times 
    - a strong temptation, 
for the sisters, 
          all absorbed in God, 
     do not perceive it, 
but I 
    - fear for their health, 
    - would rather they kept the rule
   - that gives them enough to do, 
   - whatever is beside that 
         should be done with gentleness. 
This matter of mortification 
   especially is of great importance, 
and I would have the prioresses, 
   for the love of our Lord, 
look into it; 
for in these houses 
it is a very important thing
    to have discretion and 
   to understand dispositions
and if herein they are not very observant 
   they will do 
         great harm 
         instead of good, 
   and make the sisters uneasy. 
8. Discretion necessary.  
They must consider 
 that mortification of this kind 
   is not of obligation: 
that is the first thing 
  they have to look to. 
Though it is most necessary 
   to enable souls to attain 
        to liberty and high perfection,
  that is not gained in a moment, 
and they must therefore 
   help every one onwards 
according to 
   the intellectual and spiritual gifts
which God has given them
You may think 
      that understanding
        is not necessary for this: 
that is a mistake, 
   for  there are some 
      who must labour much 
   before they can  arrive 
    at the knowledge 
       of perfection 
       of the spirit of  our rule, 
and afterwards, perhaps, 
   these very persons 
      will be the most saintly; 
  they may 
     not know when it is safe 
        to excuse themselves, 
     nor when it is not, 
   and they may be ignorant 
       of other minute observances 
   - which, 
       when they shall have understood them, 
          they will keep perhaps with ease, 
   - which they never thoroughly understand, 
      nor               — which is worse — 
         look upon as matters 
         appertaining unto perfection. 
9. Spiritual and intellectual gifts.  
In one of our monasteries 
   is a sister 
          so far as I can see, 
  is one of the greatest servants of God there 
        — great 
               in spirituality, 
               in the graces 
                  His Majesty bestows upon her, 
               in penance and humility — 
  but she does not understand 
      certain things in the constitutions; 
         the mentioning of the faults 
                 of others in chapter 
           considers to be a want of charity, 
           says that when she has to tell 
                anything of the sisters, 
                anything of that kind, 
           she may be speaking against a sister 
           who may be a great servant of God; 
      and yet in other ways 
        I see that she far surpasses those 
          who understand the constitutions well. 
The prioress must not think 
   that she sees into souls at once: 
   let her leave this with God, 
      who alone can see into them; 
   but let her labour to guide each soul 
     by the way His Majesty is guiding it, 
always supposing 
    that there is no failure of obedience, 
or in the more essential points 
    of the rule and constitutions. 

                among the eleven thousand virgins, 
          went and hid herself, 
     was not the less a saint and martyr: 
on the contrary, perhaps 
     she suffered more than the others 
         in coming afterwards 
     alone to offer herself for martyrdom.   [10] 
10. Nuns not to be driven 
       towards perfection. 
I return now 
   to the subject of mortification. 
A prioress, 
    to mortify a sister, 
       bids her do something 
    which, though in itselt a trifle, 
       is yet a burden to the nun. 
When it is done
   the sister is 
      so disturbed and tempted
   that it would have been better 
      if such a command 
      had not been given her. 
The moment this becomes evident 
   the prioress should consider
that she cannot make her perfect 
   by a strong arm, 
   but should rather dissemble, 
     and proceed by degrees 
   till our Lord shall have done 
      this work in her,
    lest what is done for the purpose 
       of bringing her on
           — for without this particular form 
                     of perfection 
                she might be a very good nun — 
      should be 
           an occasion of disquiet to her, and 
           an affliction of spirit, 
      which is a most dreadful thing. 
If  that nun sees the others 
    doing these things 
she, too, by degrees 
     will do them; 
we have found it so; 
and if she should not 
    she may be saved without this virtue.    
11. Imperfections to be borne with.   
I know one of this kind, 
  whose whole life 
        has been most virtuously spent, 
   who for many years and in many ways 
        has served our Lord, 
  but who has 
     some imperfections 
      and certain feelings at times 
   over which she has no control; 
    she is aware of it, 
     and comes to me in her distress. 
God, I think, 
  lets her fall into these imperfections 
      without sin on her part 
                   — there is no sin in them — 
   that she 
      - may humble herself, 
      - see thereby that she is 
             not altogether perfect. 
Some, then, there are 
    who will undergo great mortifications
        — and 
             the greater 
                  the mortifications enjoined
             the greater 
                  will be their pleasure therein — 
   because our Lord 
     has endowed their souls with strength 
         to give up their own will; 

others will not be able 
   to endure even slight ones, 
          and they are as a child 
              loaded with two bushels {fanegas} 
                of corn, 
           who not only cannot carry them, 
            but breaks down under the burden 
                and tails to the ground. 
Forgive me, then, my daughters 
        — I am speaking to the prioresses — 
for that which I have observed in some 
    has made me dwell so long upon this. 
12. The prioresses to be cautious 
       in tasking the obedience of the nuns.
I have another caution to give, 
   and it is very important:
   never command anything, 
      even for the trial of a sister's obedience, 
   which may be to her, 
           if she does it, 
      even a venial sin. 
I have known some things enjoined 
    which would have been mortal
 if they had been done: 
the sisters, however,
    might perhaps have been safe 
            in their innocence
    — not so the prioress 
            who never commands anything 
             that is not instantly done. 
As they hear and read 
   what the saints of the desert did,
they look upon every thing 
    enjoined them as good
     — at least the doing of it. 
And the subjects also must consider 
  that they are not to do that, 
       even when enjoined them, 
  which would be mortal sin 
       when not enjoined, 
       except absence from mass, 
       or the non-observance 
              of a fast of the church, 
       or actions of  that kind, 
  for in these matters 
       the prioress may have her reasons; 
but to throw oneself into a well 
           and acts of that nature 
  are mistakes, 
because no one ought to suppose 
   that God will work a miracle, 
           as He did for the saints. 
There are ways enough 
     to practise perfect obedience, and 
every way that is free from these dangers
    I commend. 
13. Simple obedience of a nun.  
Once a sister in Malagon begged leave 
  to take the discipline, 
and the prioress 
              — others must have made
                   the same request — 
       ' Leave me alone.'
But, as she was importunate, 
   the prioress said,
       'Go along; leave me alone.' 
Thereupon the nun, 
       with great simplicity, 
  walked about for some hours, 
      till one of the sisters asked her 
why she was walking so much, 
      or said something to that effect. 
She replied 
   that she had been ordered 
        to do so. 
Meanwhile the bell rung for matins, 
  and when the prioress asked 
why that nun had not come 
   the other told her 
what was going on. 
It is necessary, 
   as I said before, 
that the prioresses should 
  - be very cautious 
        in dealing with souls 
    whom they already know 
       to be obedient, 
 - consider what they are doing. 
14. Another instance. 
To another prioress came a nun, 
  and showed her a very large worm, saying, 
     ' Look how beautiful it is ! ' 
The prioress in jest replied, 
   'Then go and eat it.' 
She went and fried it. 
The cook asked her 
  why she fried a worm, 
and she answered,
   ' To eat it,' 
and would have done so. 
Thus through  the great carelessness 
  of the prioress
that nun might have done herself 
  much harm, 
I am the more delighted with obedience 
   when carried to an extreme, 
for I have a particular devotion
    to this virtue. 
I have therefore done all I could, 
  that all the sisters might have it; 
nevertheless all my efforts 
  would have been little worth 
if our Lord had not,
  in the excesses of His compassion, 
given them the grace, 
        all of them,
 to feel a special attraction for it. 
May it please His Majesty 
   to increase it more and more! 

                   Foot Notes:
  Those of the nuns and of the friars 
   [ Reforma, bk. ii. ch. xliv. 4 ].
   The Saint returned to Toledo 21st July, 
    and remained there, 
     with slight interruptions, more than a year. 

   See note to ch. xv. 17. 
   Martin Gutierrez 
     was the confessor 
        of the Saint's biographer, 
              Francis  Ribera
        while the latter still lived as a secular, 
     was the means of  winning him 
         for the society. 
 The provincial congregation 
             of Burgos  in 1573, 
     when the news arrived in Spain 
             of the death of the general, 
                 S. Francis Borja, 
    sent Gutierrez and Juan Suarez 
        to Rome with the provincial,
          Gil Gonzalez. 
 They were 
     taken prisoners in France 
          by the Hugenots, and 
      most cruelly treated. 
 Gutierrez was wounded 
    and died of the wound:
 the others were released 
    after paying money 
 for their lives 
  [ Life of F. Baltasar Alvarez ].
 He was born in Almodovar 1524, 
 and entered the society in 1550. 
  The inhabitants of Salamanca 
    supported themselves chiefly 
   by providing board and lodging 
     for the students 
      — some say over ten thousand — 
     who were often in arrears 
          with their payments. 
  The bishop of Salamanca at this time was
     Don Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza
       son of the duke of Infantado, 
     consecrated in 1560; 
   he was bishop fourteen years, 
   and was one of the prelates who had been 
     in the Council of Trent.

   S. Teresa, at the moment of writing, 
    did not remember his name, 
    but left a blank which she never filled up. 

  The house belonged to 
     Gonzalo  Yanez de Ovalle 
     [ Yepes, ii. 23 ].
   In the latter end of October.
   Her companion was 
        Mary of the Blessed Sacrament,
                 (Mary Suarez), 
    born at Segovia, 
    and professed 
      at the convent of the Incarnation at Avila.
 She had accompanied S. Teresa 
    to Malagon in 1568 
  where she was for a time prioress. 
  She remained at Salamanca 
      a few months,
   the holy foundress taking her 
      in January 1571 
     to Alba de  Tormes 
    where she became sub-prioress. 
   There she renounced 
       the mitigated rule, 
    21st December 1572, 
       and was afterwards elected prioress. 
    So mortified was she 
    that she only allowed herself 
         one hour's sleep each night. 
    Towards the end of her life 
      she suffered severely 
          from an ulcer in her leg 
     which necessitated amputation. 
    She died at an advanced age in 1589; 
     at the moment of her death 
        one of the nuns saw her soul 
      carried to heaven by angels, 
          Ouvres, 111. 306. 
  This was probably 
       Mother Jane of the Holy Ghost 
    (Dona Juana Guiera), 
       nun of the Incarnation at Avila, 
         and afterwards (1571) 
       prioress of Alba de Tormes. 
   S. Teresa speaks severely 
      of her indiscreet mortifications
   in a letter dated 
      27th September 1572. 
 [10 ]
 Quaedam autem virgo, 
   nomine Cordula, 
 timore perterrita, 
 in navi nocte illa se abscondit, 
 sed in crastinum sponte morti se offerens,
 martyrii coronam suscepit. 
 Sed cum eius festum non fieret, 
 eo quod cum aliis passa non esset,
 ipsa post longum tempus 
      cuidam reclusae apparuit, 
 precipiens ut sequenti die a festo virginum 
 eius quotannis solemnitas recoleretur 
 [ Jacobi a Voragine, 
   in fest undecim mille Virginum ]

  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . .
  Bloggers'  rough translation and Note:
     A certain virgin, 
        Cordula, by name,
        terrified in fear,
    hid herself in the ship  that night
    but on the morrow,  according to the will of God,
    presented/offered  herself  to  death, 
    she received / took up  the martyr's crown.
   But  with her feast not established (and)
   not observed along  with that of the others, 
   she, after a long time,  appeared to certain hermit;

   She instructed 
     that on the day following the feast of the virgins
    every year,  (her) solemnity  
    should be  honored / commemorated.
  [ Jacobus de Voragine
   On the feast of the eleven thousand virgins] 
  "The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints"
     (Legenda Aurea -  The Golden Legend)
    by Jacobus de Voragine
           1229 -1298
    Blessed Jacobus was a Dominican Father 
      and Archbishop of Genoa.
   He excelled as a teacher, administator, peacemaker, 
     and helper of  the poor
   He was beatified by Pope Pius VII in 1816.

   The above passage refers to St. Ursula,
     the virgins and other companions
   who were martyred.  

  It is also likely referring to the former feast days:  
   October 21 - the feastday 
         of St. Ursula and her Virgins and  Companions
   October 22 - the feastday 
         of St. Cordula,  Virgin and  Martyr
  The traditional (Tridentine) calendar still includes
    the feast day of St Ursula on October 21.
 [11 ]
  Although it is not certain 
   which convent and 
   which prioress 
  the Saint had in view
    there is reason to think 
 she alluded to Toledo or  Malagon 
   where indiscreet mortifications 
        were being freely practised; 
 she herself tells (ch. xvi. 3) 
   how she had to watch over 
 what the prioress of  Toledo 
   said to the nuns 
 for they took chance remarks 
   as if they were commands. 
 At a somewhat later period 
  S. Teresa wrote 
   to Mary of  S. Joseph
       prioress of Seville: 
  "Lest I forget it I must tell you 
     that I have heard 
   what kind of mortifications
    are being practised at Malagon. 
  The Mother prioress orders one of the nuns 
     to go when least expected 
  to give a blow to some sister; 
 this invention comes from Toledo. 
 Evidently the devil, 
   under pretext of perfection, 
 teaches to lead souls 
   to commit an offence against God. 
 You must 
   never command   any such thing,
   nor allow the sisters to pinch each other; 
      as they do at Malagon 
      from what I hear. 
 In one word 
 do not guide your daughters 
        with such rigour 
    as you have seen in this convent (Toledo), 
    they are not slaves, 
    the only purpose of mortification is 
      to procure the advancement of the soul
 I assure you, my child, 
   it is necessary to keep a vigilant eye 
 on these childish prioresses 
  who follow every whim of their fancy, 
 for things have come to my knowledge 
   which cause me great pain".
             (  11th  Nov. 1576). 


           End of Chapter 18
                    of the 
          Book of the Foundations
             of S. Teresa of Jesus 
  of the Order of our Lady of Carmel  

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