31 – 40

Continues the same subject. Explains what is meant by the Prayer of Quiet.
Gives several counsels to those who experience it. This chapter is very

Now, daughters, I still want to describe this Prayer of Quiet to you,
in the way I have heard it talked about, and as the Lord has been
pleased to teach it to me, perhaps in order that I might describe it to
you. It is in this kind of prayer, as I have said, that the Lord seems
to me to begin to show us that He is hearing our petition: He begins to
give us His Kingdom on earth so that we may truly praise Him and hallow
His name and strive to make others do so likewise.

This is a supernatural state, and, however hard we try, we cannot reach
it for ourselves; for it is a state in which the soul enters into
peace, or rather in which the Lord gives it peace through His presence,
as He did to that just man Simeon. [106] In this state all the
faculties are stilled. The soul, in a way which has nothing to do with
the outward senses, realizes that it is now very close to its God, and
that, if it were but a little closer, it would become one with Him
through union. This is not because it sees Him either with its bodily
or with its spiritual eyes. The just man Simeon saw no more than the
glorious Infant–a poor little Child, Who, to judge from the
swaddling-clothes in which He was wrapped and from the small number of
the people whom He had as a retinue to take Him up to the Temple, might
well have been the son of these poor people rather than the Son of his
Heavenly Father. But the Child Himself revealed to him Who He was. Just
so, though less clearly, does the soul know Who He is. It cannot
understand how it knows Him, yet it sees that it is in the Kingdom (or
at least is near to the King Who will give it the Kingdom), and it
feels such reverence that it dares to ask nothing. It is, as it were,
in a swoon, both inwardly and outwardly, so that the outward man (let
me call it the ”body”, and then you will understand me better) does not
wish to move, but rests, like one who has almost reached the end of his
journey, so that it may the better start again upon its way, with
redoubled strength for its task.

The body experiences the greatest delight and the soul is conscious of
a deep satisfaction. So glad is it merely to find itself near the
fountain that, even before it has begun to drink, it has had its fill.
There seems nothing left for it to desire. The faculties are stilled
and have no wish to move, for any movement they may make appears to
hinder the soul from loving God. They are not completely lost, however,
since, two of them being free, they can realize in Whose Presence they
are. It is the will that is in captivity now; and, if while in this
state it is capable of experiencing any pain, the pain comes when it
realizes that it will have to resume its liberty. The mind tries to
occupy itself with only one thing, and the memory has no desire to busy
itself with more: they both see that this is the one thing needful and
that anything else will unsettle them. Persons in this state prefer the
body to remain motionless, for otherwise their peace would be
destroyed: for this reason they dare not stir. Speaking is a distress
to them: they will spend a whole hour on a single repetition of the
Paternoster. They are so close to God that they know they can make
themselves understood by signs. They are in the palace, near to their
King, and they see that He is already beginning to give them His
Kingdom on earth. Sometimes tears come to their eyes, but they weep
very gently and quite without distress: their whole desire is the
hallowing of this name. They seem not to be in the world, and have no
wish to see or hear anything but their God; nothing distresses them,
nor does it seem that anything can possibly do so. In short, for as
long as this state lasts, they are so overwhelmed and absorbed by the
joy and delight which they experience that they can think of nothing
else to wish for, and will gladly say with Saint Peter: ”Lord, let us
make here three mansions.” [107]

Occasionally, during this Prayer of Quiet, God grants the soul another
favour which is hard to understand if one has not had long experience
of it. But any of you who have had this will at once recognize it and
it will give you great comfort to know what it is. I believe God often
grants this favour together with the other. When this quiet is felt in
a high degree and lasts for a long time, I do not think that, if the
will were not made fast to something, the peace could be of such long
duration. Sometimes it goes on for a day, or for two days, and we find
ourselves–I mean those who experience this state–full of this joy
without understanding the reason. They see clearly that their whole
self is not in what they are doing, but that the most important faculty
is absent –namely, the will, which I think is united with its God–
and that the other faculties are left free to busy themselves with His
service. For this they have much more capacity at such a time, though
when attending to worldly affairs they are dull and sometimes stupid.

It is a great favour which the Lord grants to these souls, for it
unites the active life with the contemplative. At such times they serve
the Lord in both these ways at once; the will, while in contemplation,
is working without knowing how it does so; the other two faculties are
serving Him as Martha did. Thus Martha and Mary work together. I know
someone to whom the Lord often granted this favour; she could not
understand it and asked a great contemplative [108] about it, he told
her that what she described was quite possible and had happened to
himself. I think, therefore, that as the soul experiences such
satisfaction in this Prayer of Quiet the will must be almost
continuously united with Him Who alone can give it happiness.

I think it will be well, sisters, if I give some advice here to any of
you whom the Lord, out of His goodness alone, has brought to this
state, as I know that this has happened to some of you. First of all,
when such persons experience this joy, without knowing whence it has
come to them, but knowing at least that they could not have achieved it
of themselves, they are tempted to imagine that they can prolong it and
they may even try not to breathe. This is ridiculous: we can no more
control this prayer than we can make the day break, or stop night from
falling; it is supernatural and something we cannot acquire. The most
we can do to prolong this favour is to realize that we can neither
diminish nor add to it, but, being most unworthy and undeserving of it,
can only receive it with thanksgiving. And we can best give thanks, not
with many words, but by lifting up our eyes, like the publican. [109]

It is well to seek greater solitude so as to make room for the Lord and
allow His Majesty to do His own work in us. The most we should do is
occasionally, and quite gently, to utter a single word, like a person
giving a little puff to a candle, when he sees it has almost gone out,
so as to make it burn again; though, if it were fully alight, I suppose
the only result of blowing it would be to put it out. I think the puff
should be a gentle one because, if we begin to tax our brains by making
up long speeches, the will may become active again.

Note carefully, friends, this piece of advice which I want to give you
now. You will often find that these other two faculties are of no help
to you. It may come about that the soul is enjoying the highest degree
of quiet, and that the understanding has soared so far aloft that what
is happening to it seems not to be going on in its own house at all; it
really seems to be a guest in somebody else’s house, looking for other
lodgings, since its own lodging no longer satisfies it and it cannot
remain there for long together. Perhaps this is only my own experience
and other people do not find it so. But, speaking for myself, I
sometimes long to die because I cannot cure this wandering of the mind.
At other times the mind seems to be settled in its own abode and to be
remaining there with the will as its companion. When all three
faculties work together it is wonderful. The harmony is like that
between husband and wife: if they are happy and love each other, both
desire the same thing; but if the husband is unhappy in his marriage he
soon begins to make the wife restless. Just so, when the will finds
itself in this state of quiet, it must take no more notice of the
understanding than it would of a madman, for, if it tries to draw the
understanding along with it, it is bound to grow preoccupied and
restless, with the result that this state of prayer will be all effort
and no gain and the soul will lose what God has been giving it without
any effort of its own.

Pay great attention to the following comparison, which the Lord
suggested to me when I was in this state of prayer, and which seems to
me very appropriate. The soul is like an infant still at its mother’s
breast: such is the mother’s care for it that she gives it its milk
without its having to ask for it so much as by moving its lips. That is
what happens here. The will simply loves, and no effort needs to be
made by the understanding, for it is the Lord’s pleasure that, without
exercising its thought, the soul should realize that it is in His
company, and should merely drink the milk which His Majesty puts into
its mouth and enjoy its sweetness. The Lord desires it to know that it
is He Who is granting it that favour and that in its enjoyment of it He
too rejoices. But it is not His will that the soul should try to
understand how it is enjoying it, or what it is enjoying; it should
lose all thought of itself, and He Who is at its side will not fail to
see what is best for it. If it begins to strive with its mind so that
the mind may be apprised of what is happening and thus induced to share
in it, [110] it will be quite unable to do so, and the soul will
perforce lose the milk [111] and forgo that Divine sustenance.

This state of prayer is different from that in which the soul is wholly
united with God, for in the latter state it does not even swallow its
nourishment: the Lord places this within it, and it has no idea how.
But in this state it even seems to be His will that the soul should
work a little, though so quietly that it is hardly conscious of doing
so. What disturbs it is the understanding and this is not the case when
there is union of all the three faculties, since He Who created them
suspends them: He keeps them occupied with the enjoyment that He has
given them, without their knowing, or being able to understand, the
reason. Anyone who has had experience of this kind of prayer will
understand quite well what I am saying if, after reading this, she
considers it carefully, and thinks out its meaning: otherwise it will
be Greek [112] to her.

Well, as I say, the soul is conscious of having reached this state of
prayer, which is a quiet, deep and Peaceful happiness of the will,
without being able to decide precisely what it is, although it can
clearly see how it differs from the happiness of the world. To have
dominion over the whole world, with all its happiness, would not
suffice to bring the soul such inward satisfaction as it enjoys now in
the depths of its will. For other kinds of happiness in life, it seems
to me, touch only the outward part of the will, which we might describe
as its rind.

When one of you finds herself in this sublime state of prayer, which,
as I have already said, is most markedly supernatural, and the
understanding (or, to put it more clearly, the thought) wanders off
after the most ridiculous things in the world, she should laugh at it
and treat it as the silly thing it is, and remain in her state of
quiet. For thoughts will come and go, but the will is mistress and
all-powerful, and will recall them without your having to trouble about
it. But if you try to drag the understanding back by force, you lose
your power over it, which comes from your taking and receiving that
Divine sustenance, and neither will nor understanding will gain, [113]
but both will be losers. There is a saying that, if we try very hard to
grasp all, we lose all; and so I think it is here. Experience will show
you the truth of this; and I shall not be surprised if those of you who
have none think this very obscure and unnecessary. But, as I have said,
if you have only a little experience of it you will understand it and
be able to profit by it, and you will praise the Lord for being pleased
to enable me to explain it.

Let us now conclude by saying that, when the soul is brought to this
state of prayer, it would seem that the Eternal Father has already
granted its petition that He will give it His Kingdom on earth. O
blessed request, in which we ask for so great a good without knowing
what we do! Blessed manner of asking! It is for this reason, sisters,
that I want us to be careful how we say this prayer, the Paternoster,
and all other vocal prayers, and what we ask for in them. For clearly,
when God has shown us this favour, we shall have to forget worldly
things, all of which the Lord of the world has come and cast out. I do
not mean that everyone who experiences the Prayer of Quiet must
perforce be detached from everything in the world; but at least I
should like all such persons to know what they lack and to humble
themselves and not to make so great a petition as though they were
asking for nothing, and, if the Lord gives them what they ask for, to
throw it back in His face. They must try to become more and more
detached from everything, for otherwise they will only remain where
they are. If God gives a soul such pledges, it is a sign that He has
great things in store for it. It will be its own fault if it does not
make great progress. But if He sees that, after He has brought the
Kingdom of Heaven into its abode, it returns to earth, not only will He
refrain from showing it the secrets of His Kingdom but He will grant it
this other favour only for short periods and rarely.

I may be mistaken about this, but I have seen it and know that it
happens, and, for my own part, I believe this is why spiritual people
are not much more numerous. They do not respond to so great a favour in
a practical way: instead of preparing themselves to receive this favour
again, they take back from the Lord’s hands the will which He
considered His own and centre it upon base things. So He seeks out
others who love Him in order to grant them His greater gifts, although
He will not take away all that He has given from those who live in
purity of conscience. But there are persons–and I have been one of
them–to whom the Lord gives tenderness of devotion and holy
inspirations and light on everything. He bestows this Kingdom on them
and brings them to this Prayer of Quiet, and yet they deafen their ears
to His voice. For they are so fond of talking and of repeating a large
number of vocal prayers in a great hurry, as though they were anxious
to finish their task of repeating them daily, that when the Lord, as I
say, puts His Kingdom into their very hands, by giving them this Prayer
of Quiet and this inward peace, they do not accept it, but think that
they will do better to go on reciting their prayers, which only
distract them from their purpose.

Do not be like that, sisters, but be watchful when the Lord grants you
this favour. Think what a great treasure you may be losing and realize
that you are doing much more by occasionally repeating a single
petition of the Paternoster than by repeating the whole of it many
times in a hurry and not thinking what you are saying. He to Whom you
are praying is very near to you and will not fail to hear you; and you
may be sure that you are truly praising Him and hallowing His name,
since you are glorifying the Lord as a member of His household and
praising Him with increasing affection and desire so that it seems you
can never forsake His service. So I advise you to be very cautious
about this, for it is of the greatest importance.

[106] The allusion is, of course, to St. Luke ii, 25 (”just and
devout”), 29.

[107] Moradas. The ”three tabernacles” of St. Matthew xvii, 4.

[108] In the margin of T. the author adds, in her own hand, that this
contemplative was St. Francis Borgia, Duke of Gandía. No doubt, then,
the other person referred to was St. Teresa herself. The addition
reads: ”who was a religious of the Company of Jesus, who had been Duke
of Gandía,” and to this are added some words, also in St. Teresa’s
hand, but partially scored out and partially cut by the binder, which
seem to be: ”who knew it well by experience.”

[109] St. Luke xviii, 13. St. Teresa apparently forgot that the
publican ”would not so much as lift his eyes towards heaven”.

[110] Lit.: ”and drawn along with it”; the same phrase is found at the
end of the preceding paragraph.

[111] Lit. ”let the milk fall out of its mouth.”

[112] Algarabía. Cf. n. 96 above.

[113] Lit.: ”neither the one nor the other will gain.”

Expounds these words of the Paternoster: ”Fiat voluntas tua sicut in coelo et
in terra.” [114] Describes how much is accomplished by those who repeat these
words with full resolution and how well the Lord rewards them for it.

Now that our good Master has asked on our behalf, and has taught us
ourselves to ask, for a thing so precious that it includes all we can
desire on earth, and has granted us the great favour of making us His
brethren, let us see what He desires us to give to His Father, and what
He offers Him on our behalf, and what He asks of us, for it is right
that we should render Him some service in return for such great
favours. O good Jesus! Since Thou givest so little (little, that is to
say, on our behalf) how canst Thou ask [so much] for us? What we give
is in itself nothing at all by comparison with all that has been given
us and with the greatness of Our Lord. But in truth, my Lord, Thou dost
not leave us with nothing to give and we give all that we can–I mean
if we give in the spirit of these words: ”Thy will be done; as in
Heaven, so on earth.”

Thou didst well, O our good Master, to make this last petition, so that
we may be able to accomplish what Thou dost promise in our name. For
truly, Lord, hadst Thou not done this, I do not think it would have
been possible for us to accomplish it. But, since Thy Father does what
Thou askest Him in granting us His Kingdom on earth, I know that we can
truly fulfil Thy word by giving what Thou dost promise in our name. For
since my earth has now become Heaven, it will be possible for Thy will
to be done in me. Otherwise, on an earth so wretched as mine, and so
barren of fruit, I know not, Lord, how it could be possible. It is a
great thing that Thou dost offer.

When I think of this, it amuses me that there should be people who dare
not ask the Lord for trials, thinking that His sending them to them
depends upon their asking for them! I am not referring to those who
omit to ask for them out of humility because they think themselves to
be incapable of bearing them, though for my own part I believe that He
who gives them love enough to ask for such a stern method of proving it
will give them love enough to endure it. I should like to ask those who
are afraid to pray for trials lest they should at once be given them
what they mean when they beg the Lord to fulfil His will in them. Do
they say this because everyone else says it and not because they want
it to be done? That would not be right, sisters. Remember that the good
Jesus is our Ambassador here, and that His desire has been to mediate
between us and His Father at no small cost to Himself: it would not be
right for us to refuse to give what He promises and offers on our
behalf or to say nothing about it. Let me put it in another way.
Consider, daughters, that, whether we wish it or no, God’s will must be
done, and must be done both in Heaven and on earth. Believe me, then,
do as I suggest and make a virtue of necessity.

O my Lord, what a great comfort it is to me that Thou didst not entrust
the fulfilment of Thy will to one so wretched as I! Blessed be Thou for
ever and let all things praise Thee. May Thy name be for ever
glorified. I should indeed have had to be good, Lord, if the fulfilment
or non-fulfilment of Thy will [in Heaven and on earth] were in my
hands. But as it is, though my will is not yet free from self-interest,
I give it to Thee freely. For I have proved, by long experience, how
much I gain by leaving it freely in Thy hands. O friends, what a great
gain is this–and how much we lose through not fulfilling our promises
to the Lord in the Paternoster, and giving Him what we offer Him!

Before I tell you in what this gain consists, I will explain to you how
much you are offering, lest later you should exclaim that you had been
deceived and had not understood what you were saying. Do not behave
like some religious among us, who do nothing but promise, and then
excuse ourselves for not fulfilling our promises by saying that we had
not understood what we were promising. That may well be true, for it is
easy to say things and hard to put them into practice, and anyone who
thought that there was no more in the one than in the other certainly
did not understand. It seems very easy to say that we will surrender
our will to someone, until we try it and realize that it is the hardest
thing we can do if we carry it out as we should. Our superiors do not
always treat us strictly when they see we are weak; and sometimes they
treat both weak and strong in the same way. That is not so with the
Lord; He knows what each of us can bear, and, when He sees that one of
us is strong, He does not hesitate to fulfil His will in him.

So I want you to realize with Whom (as they say) you are dealing and
what the good Jesus offers on your behalf to the Father, and what you
are giving Him when you pray that His will may be done in you: it is
nothing else than this that you are praying for. Do not fear that He
will give you riches or pleasures or great honours or any such earthly
things; His love for you is not so poor as that. And He sets a very
high value on what you give Him and desires to recompense you for it
since He gives you His Kingdom while you are still alive. Would you
like to see how He treats those who make this prayer from their hearts?
Ask His glorious Son, Who made it thus in the Garden. Think with what
resolution and fullness of desire He prayed; and consider if the will
of God was not perfectly fulfilled in Him through the trials,
sufferings, insults and persecutions which He gave Him, until at last
His life ended with death on a Cross.

So you see, daughters, what God gave to His best Beloved, and from that
you can understand what His will is. These, then, are His gifts in this
world. He gives them in proportion to the love which He bears us. He
gives more to those whom He loves most, and less to those He loves
least; and He gives in accordance with the courage which He sees that
each of us has and the love we bear to His Majesty. When He sees a soul
who loves Him greatly, He knows that soul can suffer much for Him,
whereas one who loves Him little will suffer little. For my own part, I
believe that love is the measure of our ability to bear crosses,
whether great or small. So if you have this love, sisters, try not to
let the prayers you make to so great a Lord be words of mere politeness
but brace yourselves to suffer what His Majesty desires. For if you
give Him your will in any other way, you are just showing Him a jewel,
making as if to give it to Him and begging Him to take it, and then,
when He puts out His hand to do so, taking it back and holding on to it

Such mockery is no fit treatment for One who endured so much for us. If
for no other reason than this, it would not be right to mock Him so
often–and it is by no means seldom that we say these words to Him in
the Paternoster. Let us give Him once and for all the jewel which we
have so often undertaken to give Him. For the truth is that He gives it
to us first so that we may give it back to Him. Ah, my God! How well
Jesus knows us and how much He thinks of our good! He did not say we
must surrender our wills to the Lord until we had been well paid for
this small service. It will be realized from this how much the Lord
intends us to gain by rendering it to Him: even in this life He begins
to reward us for this, as I shall presently explain. Worldly people
will do a great deal if they sincerely resolve to fulfil the will of
God. But you, daughters, must both say and act, and give Him both words
and deeds, as I really think we religious do. Yet sometimes not only do
we undertake to give God the jewel but we even put it into His hand and
then take it back again. We are so generous all of a sudden, and then
we become so mean, that it would have been better if we had stopped to
think before giving.

The aim of all my advice to you in this book is that we should
surrender ourselves wholly to the Creator, place our will in His hands
and detach ourselves from the creatures. As you will already have
understood how important this is, I will say no more about it, but I
will tell you why our good Master puts these words here. He knows how
much we shall gain by rendering this service to His Eternal Father. We
are preparing ourselves for the time, which will come very soon, when
we shall find ourselves at the end of our journey and shall be drinking
of living water from the fountain I have described. Unless we make a
total surrender of our will to the Lord, and put ourselves in His hands
so that He may do in all things what is best for us in accordance with
His will, He will never allow us to drink of it. This is the perfect
contemplation of which you asked me to write to you.

In this matter, as I have already said, we can do nothing of ourselves,
either by working hard or by making plans, nor is it needful that we
should. For everything else hinders and prevents us from saying [with
real resolution], ”Fiat voluntas tua”: that is, may the Lord fulfil His
will in me, in every way and manner which Thou, my Lord, desirest. If
Thou wilt do this by means of trials, give me strength and let them
come. If by means of persecutions and sickness and dishonour and need,
here I am, my Father, I will not turn my face away from Thee nor have I
the right to turn my back upon them. For Thy Son gave Thee this will of
mine in the name of us all and it is not right that I for my part
should fail. Do Thou grant me the grace of bestowing on me Thy Kingdom
so that I may do Thy will, since He has asked this of me. Dispose of me
as of that which is Thine own, in accordance with Thy will.

Oh, my sisters, what power this gift has! If it be made with due
resolution, it cannot fail to draw the Almighty to become one with our
lowliness and to transform us into Himself and to effect a union
between the Creator and the creature. Ask yourselves if that will not
be a rich reward for you, and if you have not a good Master. For,
knowing how the good will of His Father is to be gained, He teaches us
how and by what means we must serve Him.

The more resolute we are in soul and the more we show Him by our
actions that the words we use to Him are not words of mere politeness,
the more and more does Our Lord draw us to Himself and raise us above
all petty earthly things, and above ourselves, in order to prepare us
to receive great favours from Him, for His rewards for our service will
not end with this life. So much does He value this service of ours that
we do not know for what more we can ask, while His Majesty never
wearies of giving. Not content with having made this soul one with
Himself, through uniting it to Himself, He begins to cherish it, to
reveal secrets to it, to rejoice in its understanding of what it has
gained and in the knowledge which it has of all He has yet to give it.
He causes it gradually to lose its exterior senses so that nothing may
occupy it. This we call rapture. He begins to make such a friend of the
soul that not only does He restore its will to it but He gives it His
own also. For, now that He is making a friend of it, He is glad to
allow it to rule with Him, as we say, turn and turn about. So He does
what the soul asks of Him, just as the soul does what He commands, only
in a much better way, since He is all-powerful and can do whatever He
desires, and His desire never comes to an end.

But the poor soul, despite its desires, is often unable to do all it
would like, nor can it do anything at all unless it is given the power.
[115] And so it grows richer and richer; and the more it serves, the
greater becomes its debt; and often, growing weary of finding itself
subjected to all the inconveniences and impediments and bonds which it
has to endure while it is in the prison of this body, it would gladly
pay something of what it owes, for it is quite worn out. But even if we
do all that is in us, how can we repay God, since, as I say, we have
nothing to give save what we have first received? We can only learn to
know ourselves and do what we can–namely, surrender our will and
fulfil God’s will in us. Anything else must be a hindrance to the soul
which the Lord has brought to this state. It causes it, not profit, but
harm, for nothing but humility is of any use here, and this is not
acquired by the understanding but by a clear perception of the truth,
which comprehends in one moment what could not be attained over a long
period by the labour of the imagination –namely, that we are nothing
and that God is infinitely great.

I will give you one piece of advice: do not suppose that you can reach
this state by your own effort or diligence; that would be too much to
expect. On the contrary, you would turn what devotion you had quite
cold. You must practise simplicity and humility, for those are the
virtues which achieve everything. You must say: ”Fiat voluntas tua.”

[114] ”Thy will be done: as in Heaven, so on earth.”

[115] Lit. ”given it.”

Treats of our great need that the Lord should give us what we ask in these
words of the Paternoster: ”Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie.” [116]

The good Jesus understands, as I have said, how difficult a thing He is
offering on our behalf, for He knows our weakness, and how often we
show that we do not understand what the will of the Lord is, since we
are weak while He is so merciful. He knows that some means must be
found by which we shall not omit to give what He has given on our
behalf, for if we did that it would be anything but good for us, since
everything we gain comes from what we give. Yet He knows that it will
be difficult for us to carry this out; for if anyone were to tell some
wealthy, pampered person that it is God’s will for him to moderate his
eating so that others, who are dying of hunger, shall have at least
bread to eat, he will discover a thousand reasons for not understanding
this but interpreting it in his own way. If one tells a person who
speaks ill of others that it is God’s will that he should love his
neighbour as himself, [117] he will lose patience and no amount of
reasoning will convince him. If one tells a religious who is accustomed
to liberty and indulgence that he must be careful to set a good example
and to remember that when he makes this petition it is his duty to keep
what he has sworn and promised, and that not in word alone; that it is
the will of God that he should fulfil his vows and see that he gives no
occasion for scandal by acting contrarily to them, even though he may
not actually break them; that he has taken the vow of poverty and must
keep it without evasions, because that is the Lord’s will–it would be
impossible, in spite of all this, that some religious should not still
want their own way. What would be the case, then, if the Lord had not
done most of what was necessary by means of the remedy He has given us?
There would have been very few who could have fulfilled this petition,
which the Lord made to the Father on our behalf: ”Fiat voluntas tua.”
Seeing our need, therefore, the good Jesus has sought the admirable
means whereby He has shown us the extreme love which He has for us, and
in His own name and in that of His brethren He has made this petition:
”Give us, Lord, this day our daily bread.”

For the love of God, sisters, let us realize the meaning of our good
Master’s petition, for our very life depends on our not disregarding
it. Set very little store by what you have given, since there is so
much that you will receive. It seems to me, in the absence of a better
opinion, that the good Jesus knew what He had given for us and how
important it was for us to give this to God, and yet how difficult it
would be for us to do so, as has been said, because of our natural
inclination to base things and our want of love and courage. He saw
that, before we could be aroused, we needed His aid, not once but every
day, and it must have been for this reason that He resolved to remain
with us. As this was so weighty and important a matter, He wished it to
come from the hand of the Eternal Father. Though both Father and Son
are one and the same, and He knew that whatever He did on earth God
would do in Heaven, and would consider it good, since His will and the
Father’s will were one, yet the humility of the good Jesus was such
that He wanted, as it were, to ask leave of His Father, for He knew
that He was His beloved Son and that He was well pleased with Him. He
knew quite well that in this petition He was asking for more than He
had asked for in the others, but He already knew what death He was to
suffer and what dishonours and affronts He would have to bear.

What father could there be, Lord, who, after giving us his son, and
such a Son, would allow Him to remain among us day by day to suffer as
He had done already? None, Lord, in truth, but Thine: well dost Thou
know of Whom Thou art asking this. God help me! What a great love is
that of the Son and what a great love is that of the Father! I am not
so much amazed at the good Jesus, because, as He had already said ”Fiat
voluntas tua”, He was bound, being Who He is, to put what He had said
into practice. Yes, for He is not like us; knowing that He was carrying
out His words by loving us as He loves Himself, He went about seeking
how He could carry out this commandment more perfectly, even at His own
cost. But how, Eternal Father, couldst Thou consent to this? How canst
Thou see Thy Son every day in such wicked hands? Since first Thou didst
permit it and consent to it, Thou seest how He has been treated. How
can Thy Mercy, day by day and every day, [118] see Him affronted? And
how many affronts are being offered to-day to this Most Holy Sacrament?
How often must the Father see Him in the hands of His enemies? What
desecrations these heretics commit!

O Eternal Lord! How canst Thou grant such a petition? How canst Thou
consent to it? Consider not His love, which, for the sake of fulfilling
Thy will and of helping us, would allow Him to submit day by day to
being cut to pieces. It is for Thee to see to this, my Lord, since Thy
Son allows no obstacle to stand in His way. Why must all the blessings
that we receive be at His cost? How is it that He is silent in face of
all, and cannot speak for Himself, but only for us? Is there none who
will speak for this most loving Lamb? Give me permission to speak for
Him, Lord, since Thou hast been pleased to leave Him in our power, and
let me beseech Thee on His behalf, since He gave Thee such full
obedience and surrendered Himself to us with such great love.

I have been reflecting how in this petition alone the same words are
repeated: first of all the Lord speaks of ”our daily bread” and asks
Thee to give it, and then He says: ”Give it us to-day, Lord.” [119] He
lays the matter before His Father in this way: the Father gave us His
Son once and for all to die for us, and thus He is our own; yet He does
not want the gift to be taken from us until the end of the world but
would have it left to be a help to us every day. Let this melt your
hearts, my daughters, and make you love your Spouse, for there is no
slave who would willingly call himself by that name, yet the good Jesus
seems to think it an honour.

O Eternal Father, how great is the merit of this humility! With what a
treasure are we purchasing Thy Son! How to sell Him we already know,
for He was sold for thirty pieces of silver; but, if we would purchase
Him, no price is sufficient. Being made one with us through the portion
of our nature which is His, and being Lord of His own will, He reminds
His Father that, as our nature is His, He is able to give it to us, and
thus He says ”our bread”. He makes no difference between Himself and
us, though we make one between ourselves and Him through not giving
ourselves daily for His Majesty’s sake.

[116] ”Give us this day our daily bread.”

[117] Lit.: ”should want as much for himself as for his neighbour, and
for his neighbour as for himself.” The italicized phrase is found in E.

[118] Lit.: ”each day, each day.”

[119] This, as will be observed from the title to this chapter, is the
order of the words in the Latin.

Continues the same subject. This is very suitable for reading after the
reception of the Most Holy Sacrament.

We have now reached the conclusion that the good Jesus, being ours,
asks His Father to let us have Him daily–which appears to mean ”for
ever”. While writing this I have been wondering why, after saying ”our
daily’ bread”, the Lord repeated the idea in the words ”Give us this
day, Lord.” I will tell you my own foolish idea: if it really is
foolish, well and good–in any case, it is quite bad enough that I
should interfere in such a matter at all. Still, as we are trying to
understand what we are praying for, let us think carefully what this
means, so that we may pray rightly, and thank Him Who is taking such
care about teaching us. This bread, then, is ours daily, it seems to
me, because we have Him here on earth, since He has remained with us
here and we receive Him; and, if we profit by His company, we shall
also have Him in Heaven, for the only reason He remains with us is to
help and encourage and sustain us so that we shall do that will, which,
as we have said, is to be fulfilled in us.

In using the words ”this day” He seems to me to be thinking of a day of
the length of this life. And a day indeed it is! As for the unfortunate
souls who will bring damnation upon themselves and will not have
fruition of Him in the world to come, they are His own creatures, and
He did everything to help them on, and was with them, to strengthen
them, throughout the ”to-day” of this life, so it is not His fault if
they are vanquished. They will have no excuse to make nor will they be
able to complain of the Father for taking this bread from them at the
time when they most needed it. Therefore the Son prays the Father that,
since this life lasts no more than a day, He will allow Him to spend it
in our service. [120] As His Majesty has already given His Son to us,
by sending Him, of His will alone, into the world, so now, of that same
will, He is pleased not to abandon us, but to remain here with us for
the greater glory of His friends and the discomfiture of His enemies.
He prays for nothing more than this ”to-day” since He has given us this
most holy Bread. He has given it to us for ever, as I have said, as the
sustenance and manna of humanity. We can have it whenever we please and
we shall not die of hunger save through our own fault, for, in whatever
way the soul desires to partake of food, it will find joy and comfort
in the Most Holy Sacrament. There is no need or trial or persecution
that cannot be easily borne if we begin to partake and taste of those
which He Himself bore, and to make them the subject of our meditations.

With regard to other bread [121] –the bread of bodily necessaries and
sustenance–I neither like to think that the Lord is always being
reminded of it nor would I have you remember it yourselves. Keep on the
level of the highest contemplation, for anyone who dwells there no more
remembers that he is in the world than if he had already left it–still
less does he think about food. Would the Lord ever have insisted upon
our asking for food, or taught us to do so by His own example? Not in
my opinion. He teaches us to fix our desires upon heavenly things and
to pray that we may begin to enjoy these things while here on earth:
would He, then, have us trouble about so petty a matter as praying for
food? As if He did not know that, once we begin to worry about the
needs of the body, we shall forget the needs of the soul! Besides, are
we such moderately minded people that we shall be satisfied with just a
little and pray only for a little? No: the more food we are given, the
less we shall get of the water from Heaven. Let those of you,
daughters, who want more of the necessaries of life pray for this.

Join with the Lord, then, daughters, in begging the Father to let you
have your Spouse to-day, so that, as long as you live, you may never
find yourself in this world without Him. Let it suffice to temper your
great joy that He should remain disguised beneath these accidents of
bread and wine, which is a real torture to those who have nothing else
to love and no other consolation. Entreat Him not to fail you but to
prepare you to receive Him worthily.

As for that other bread, have no anxiety about it if you have truly
resigned yourselves to God’s will. I mean that at these hours of prayer
you are dealing with more important matters and there is time enough
for you to labour and earn your daily bread. Try never at any time to
let your thoughts dwell on this; work with your body, for it is good
for you to try to support yourselves, but let your soul be at rest.
Leave anxiety about this to your Spouse, as has been said at length
already, and He will always bear it for you. Do not fear that He will
fail you if you do not fail to do what you have promised and to resign
yourselves to God’s will. I assure you, daughters, that, if I myself
were to fail in this, because of my wickedness, as I have often done in
the past, I would not beg Him to give me that bread, or anything else
to eat. Let Him leave me to die of hunger. Of what use is life to me if
it leads me daily nearer to eternal death?

If, then, you are really surrendering yourselves to God, as you say,
cease to be anxious for yourselves, for He bears your anxiety, and will
bear it always. It is as though a servant had gone into service and
were anxious to please his master in everything. The master is bound to
give him food for so long as he remains in his house, and in his
service, unless he is so poor that he has food neither for his servant
nor for himself. Here, however, the comparison breaks down, for God is,
and will always be, rich and powerful. It would not be right for the
servant to go to his master every day and ask him for food when he knew
that his master would see that it was given him and so he would be sure
to receive it. To do this would be a waste of words. His master would
quite properly tell him that he should look after his own business of
serving and pleasing him, for, if he worried himself unnecessarily, he
would not do his work as well as he should. So, sisters, those who will
may worry about asking for earthly bread; let our own task be to beg
the Eternal Father that we may merit our heavenly bread, so that,
although our bodily eyes cannot feast themselves on the sight of Him
since He is thus hidden from us, He may reveal Himself to the eyes of
the soul and may make Himself known to us as another kind of food, full
of delight and joy, which sustains our life.

Do you suppose that this most holy food is not ample sustenance even
for the body and a potent medicine for bodily ills? I am sure that it
is. I know a person who was subject to serious illnesses and often
suffered great pain; and this pain was taken away from her in a flash
[122] and she became quite well again. This often occurs, I believe;
and cures are recorded from quite definite illnesses which could not be
counterfeited. As the wondrous effects produced by this most holy bread
in those who worthily receive it are very well known, I will not
describe all the things that could be related about this person I
mentioned, though I have been enabled to learn about them and I know
that they are not fabrications. The Lord had given this person such a
lively faith that, when she heard people say they wished they had lived
when Christ walked on this earth, she would smile to herself, for she
knew that we have Him as truly with us in the Most Holy Sacrament as
people had Him then, and wonder what more they could possibly want.

I know, too, that for many years this person, though by no means
perfect, always tried to strengthen her faith, when she communicated,
by thinking that it was exactly as if she saw the Lord entering her
house, with her own bodily eyes, for she believed in very truth that
this Lord was entering her poor abode, and she ceased, as far as she
could, to think of outward things, and went into her abode with Him.
She tried to recollect her senses so that they might all become aware
of this great blessing, or rather, so that they should not hinder the
soul from becoming conscious of it. She imagined herself at His feet
and wept with the Magdalen exactly as if she had seen Him with her
bodily eyes in the Pharisee’s house. Even if she felt no devotion,
faith told her that it was good for her to be there.

For, unless we want to be foolish and to close our minds to facts, we
cannot suppose that this is the work of the imagination, as it is when
we think of the Lord on the Cross, or of other incidents of the
Passion, and picture within ourselves how these things happened. This
is something which is happening now; it is absolutely true; and we have
no need to go and seek Him somewhere a long way off. For we know that,
until the accidents of bread have been consumed by our natural heat,
the good Jesus is with us and we should [not lose so good an
opportunity but should] come to Him. If, while He went about in the
world, the sick were healed merely by touching His clothes, how can we
doubt that He will work miracles when He is within us, if we have
faith, or that He will give us what we ask of Him since He is in our
house? His Majesty is not wont to offer us too little payment for His
lodging if we treat Him well.

If you grieve at not seeing Him with the eyes of the body, remember
that that would not be good for us, for it is one thing to see Him
glorified and quite another to see Him as He was when He lived in the
world. So weak is our nature that nobody could endure the sight–in
fact, there would be no one left to endure it, for no one would wish to
remain in the world any longer. Once having seen this Eternal Truth,
people would realize that all the things we prize here are mockery and
falsehood. And if such great Majesty could be seen, how could a
miserable sinner like myself, after having so greatly offended Him,
remain so near to Him? Beneath those accidents of bread, we can
approach Him; for, if the King disguises Himself, it would seem that we
need not mind coming to Him without so much circumspection and
ceremony: by disguising Himself, He has, as it were, obliged Himself to
submit to this. Who, otherwise, would dare to approach Him so
unworthily, with so many imperfections and with such lukewarm zeal?

Oh, we know not what we ask! How much better does His Wisdom know what
we need! He reveals Himself to those who He knows will profit by His
presence; though unseen by bodily eyes, He has many ways of revealing
Himself to the soul through deep inward emotions and by various other
means. Delight to remain with Him; do not lose such an excellent time
for talking with Him as the hour after Communion. Remember that this is
a very profitable hour for the soul; if you spend it in the company of
the good Jesus, you are doing Him a great service. Be very careful,
then, daughters, not to lose it. If you are compelled by obedience to
do something else, try to leave your soul with the Lord. For He is your
Master, and, though it be in a way you may not understand, He will not
fail to teach you. But if you take your thoughts elsewhere, and pay no
more attention to Him than if you had not received Him, and care
nothing for His being within you, how can He make Himself known to you?
You must complain, not of Him, but of yourself. This, then, is a good
time for our Master to teach us and for us to listen to Him. I do not
tell you to say no prayers at all, for if I did you would take hold of
my words and say I was talking about contemplation, which you need
practise only if the Lord brings you to it. No: you should say the
Paternoster, realize that you are verily and indeed in the company of
Him Who taught it you and kiss His feet in gratitude to Him for having
desired to teach you and beg Him to show you how to pray and never to
leave you.

You may be in the habit of praying while looking at a picture of
Christ, but at a time like this it seems foolish to me to turn away
from the living image–the Person Himself–to look at His picture.
Would it not be foolish if we had a portrait of someone whom we dearly
loved and, when the person himself came to see us, we refused to talk
with him and carried on our entire conversation with the portrait? Do
you know when I find the use of a picture an excellent thing, and take
great pleasure in it? When the person is absent and we are made to feel
his loss by our great aridity, it is then that we find it a great
comfort to look at the picture of Him Whom we have such reason to love.
This is a great inspiration, and makes us wish that, in whichever
direction we turn our eyes, we could see the picture. What can we look
upon that is better or more attractive to the sight than upon Him Who
so dearly loves us and contains within Himself all good things? Unhappy
are those heretics, who through their own fault have lost this comfort,
as well as others.

When you have received the Lord, and are in His very presence, try to
shut the bodily eyes and to open the eyes of the soul and to look into
your own hearts. I tell you, and tell you again, for I should like to
repeat it often, that if you practise this habit of staying with Him,
not just once or twice, but whenever you communicate, and strive to
keep your conscience clear so that you can often rejoice in this your
Good, He will not, as I have said, come so much disguised as to be
unable to make His presence known to you in many ways, according to the
desire which you have of seeing Him. So great, indeed, may be your
longing for Him that He will reveal Himself to you wholly.

But if we pay no heed to Him save when we have received Him, and go
away from Him in search of other and baser things, what can He do? Will
He have to drag us by force to look at Him and be with Him because He
desires to reveal Himself to us? No; for when He revealed Himself to
all men plainly, and told them clearly who He was, they did not treat
Him at all well–very few of them, indeed, even believed Him. So He
grants us an exceeding great favour when He is pleased to show us that
it is He Who is in the Most Holy Sacrament. But He will not reveal
Himself openly and communicate His glories and bestow His treasures
save on those who He knows greatly desire Him, for these are His true
friends. I assure you that anyone who is not a true friend and does not
come to receive Him as such, after doing all in his power to prepare
for Him, must never importune Him to reveal Himself to him. Hardly is
the hour over which such a person has spent in fulfilling the Church’s
commandment than he goes home and tries to drive Christ out of the
house. What with all his other business and occupations and worldly
hindrances, he seems to be making all possible haste to prevent the
Lord from taking possession of the house which is His own.

[120] Lit.: ”in service”–en servidumbre, a strong word, better
rendered, perhaps, ”servitude,” and not far removed from ”slavery.”

[121] The whole of this paragraph is lightly crossed out in the

[122] Lit.: ”as if by (someone’s) hand.” St. Teresa is thought here to
be referring to herself.

Describes the recollection which should be practised after Communion. Concludes
this subject with an exclamatory prayer to the Eternal Father.

I have written at length about this, although, when writing of the
Prayer of Recollection, I spoke of the great importance of our entering
into solitude with God. When you hear Mass without communicating,
daughters, you may communicate spiritually, which is extremely
profitable, and afterwards you may practise inward recollection in
exactly the same way, for this impresses upon us a deep love of the
Lord. If we prepare to receive Him, He never fails to give, and He
gives in many ways that we cannot understand. It is as if we were to
approach a fire: it might be a very large one, but, if we remained a
long way from it and covered our hands, we should get little warmth
from it, although we should be warmer than if we were in a place where
there was no fire at all. But when we try to approach the Lord there is
this difference: if the soul is properly disposed, and comes with the
intention of driving out the cold, and stays for some time where it is,
it will retain its warmth for several hours, and if any little spark
flies out, it will set it on fire.

It is of such importance, daughters, for us to prepare ourselves in thy
way that you must not be surprised if I often repeat this counsel. If
at first you do not get on with this practice (which may happen, for
the devil will try to oppress and distress your heart, knowing what
great harm he can do in this way), the devil will make you think that
you can find more devotion in other things and less in this. But [trust
me and] do not give up this method, for the Lord will use it to prove
your love for Him. Remember that there are few souls who stay with Him
and follow Him in His trials; let us endure something for Him and His
Majesty will repay us. Remember, too, that there are actually people
who not only have no wish to be with Him but who insult Him and with
great irreverence drive Him away from their homes. We must endure
something, therefore, to show Him that we have the desire to see Him.
In many places He is neglected and ill-treated, but He suffers
everything, and will continue to do so, if He finds but one single soul
which will receive Him and love to have Him as its Guest. [123] Let
this soul be yours, then, for, if there were none, the Eternal Father
would rightly refuse to allow Him to remain with us. Yet the Lord is so
good a Friend to those who are His friends, and so good a Master to
those who are His servants, that, when He knows it to be the will of
His Beloved Son, He will not hinder Him in so excellent a work, in
which His Son so fully reveals the love which He has for His Father, as
this wonderful way which He seeks of showing how much He loves us and
of helping us to bear our trials.

Since, then, Holy Father, Who art in the Heavens, Thou dost will and
accept this (and it is clear that Thou couldst not deny us a thing
which is so good for us) there must be someone, as I said at the
beginning, who will speak for Thy Son, for He has never defended
Himself. Let this be the task for us, daughters, though, having regard
to what we are, it is presumptuous of us to undertake it. Let us rely,
however, on Our Lord’s command to us to pray to Him, and, in fulfilment
of our obedience to Him, let us beseech His Majesty, in the name of the
good Jesus, that, as He has left nothing undone that He could do for us
in granting sinners so great a favour, He may be pleased of His mercy
to prevent Him from being so ill-treated. Since His Holy Son has given
us this excellent way in which we can offer Him up frequently as a
sacrifice, let us make use of this precious gift so that it may stay
the advance of such terrible evil and irreverence as in many places is
paid to this Most Holy Sacrament. For these Lutherans seem to want to
drive Him out of the world again: they destroy churches, cause the loss
of many priests and abolish the sacraments. [124] And there is
something of this even among Christians, who sometimes go to church
meaning to offend Him rather than to worship Him.

Why is this, my Lord and my God? Do Thou bring the world to an end or
give us a remedy for such grievous wrongs, which even our wicked hearts
cannot endure. I beseech Thee, Eternal Father, endure it no longer:
quench this fire, Lord, for Thou canst do so if Thou wilt. Remember
that Thy Son is still in the world; may these dreadful things be
stopped out of respect for Him, horrible and abominable and foul as
they are. With His beauty and purity He does not deserve to be in a
house where such things happen. Do this, Lord, not for our sake, for we
do not deserve it, but for the sake of Thy Son. We dare not entreat
Thee that He should no longer stay with us, for Thou hast granted His
prayer to Thee to leave Him with us for to-day–that is, until the end
of the world. If He were to go, what would become of us? It would be
the end of everything. If anything can placate Thee it is to have on
earth such a pledge as this. Since some remedy must be found for this,
then, my Lord, I beg Thy Majesty to apply it. For if Thou wilt, Thou
art able.

O my God, if only I could indeed importune Thee! If only I had served
Thee well so that I might be able to beg of Thee this great favour as a
reward for my services, for Thou leavest no service unrewarded! But I
have not served Thee, Lord; indeed, it may perhaps be for my sins, and
because I have so greatly offended Thee, that so many evils come. What,
then, can I do, my Creator, but present to Thee this most holy Bread,
which, though Thou gavest it to us, I return to Thee, beseeching Thee,
by the merits of Thy Son, to grant me this favour, which on so many
counts He has merited? Do Thou, Lord, calm this sea, and no longer
allow this ship, which is Thy Church, to endure so great a tempest.
Save us, my Lord, for we perish. [125]

[123] Lit.: ”and have him within itself with love.”

[124] The sense of the verb here rendered ”cause the loss of” is vague.
Literally the phrase reads: ”so many priests are lost.”

[125] St. Matthew viii, 25.

Treats of these words in the Paternoster: ”Dimitte nobis debita nostra.” [126]

Our good Master sees that, if we have this heavenly food, everything is
easy for us, except when we are ourselves to blame, and that we are
well able to fulfil our undertaking to the Father that His will shall
be done in us. So He now asks Him to forgive us our debts, as we
ourselves forgive others. Thus, continuing the prayer which He is
teaching us, He says these words: ”And forgive us, Lord, our debts,
even as we forgive them to our debtors.”

Notice, sisters, that He does not say: ”as we shall forgive.” We are to
understand that anyone who asks for so great a gift as that just
mentioned, and has already yielded his own will to the will of God,
must have done this already. And so He says: ”as we forgive our
debtors.” Anyone, then, who sincerely repeats this petition, ”Fiat
voluntas tua”, must, at least in intention, have done this already. You
see now why the saints rejoiced in insults and persecutions: it was
because these gave them something to present to the Lord when they
prayed to Him. What can a poor creature like myself do, who has had so
little to forgive others and has so much to be forgiven herself? This,
sisters, is something which we should consider carefully; it is such a
serious and important matter that God should pardon us our sins, which
have merited eternal fire, that we must pardon all trifling things
which have been done to us and which are not wrongs at all, or anything
else. For how is it possible, either in word or in deed, to wrong one
who, like myself, has deserved to be plagued by devils for ever? Is it
not only right that I should be plagued [127] in this world too? As I
have so few, Lord, even of these trifling things, to offer Thee, Thy
pardoning of me must be a free gift: there is abundant scope here for
Thy mercy. Thy Son must pardon me, for no one has done me any
injustice, and so there has been nothing that I can pardon for Thy
sake. But take my desire to do so, Lord, for I believe I would forgive
any wrong if Thou wouldst forgive me and I might unconditionally do Thy
will. True, if the occasion were to arise, and I were condemned without
cause, I do not know what I should do. But at this moment I see that I
am so guilty in Thy sight that everything I might have to suffer would
fall short of my deserts, though anyone not knowing, as Thou knowest,
what I am, would think I was being wronged. Blessed be Thou, Who
endurest one that is so poor: when Thy most holy Son makes this
petition in the name of all mankind, I cannot be included, being such
as I am and having nothing to give.

And supposing, my Lord, that there are others who are like myself but
have not realized that this is so? If there are any such, I beg them,
in Thy name, to remember this truth, and to pay no heed to little
things about which they think they are being slighted, for, if they
insist on these nice points of honour, they become like children
building houses of straw. Oh, God help me, sisters! If we only knew
what honour really is and what is meant by losing it! I am not speaking
now about ourselves, for it would indeed be a bad business if we did
not understand this; I am speaking of myself as I was when I prided
myself on my honour without knowing what honour meant; I just followed
the example of others. Oh, how easily I used to feel slighted! I am
ashamed to think of it now; and I was not one of those who worried most
about such things either. But I never grasped the essence of the
matter, because I neither thought nor troubled about true honour, which
it is good for us to have because it profits the soul. How truly has
someone said: ”Honour and profit cannot go together.” I do not know if
this was what that person was thinking of when he said it; but it is
literally true, for the soul’s profit and what the world calls honour
can never be reconciled. Really, the topsy-turviness of the world is
terrible. Blessed be the Lord for taking us out of it! May His Majesty
grant that this house shall always be as far from it as it is now! God
preserve us from religious houses where they worry about points of
honour! Such places never do much honour to God.

God help us, how absurd it is for religious to connect their honour
with things so trifling that they amaze me! You know nothing about
this, sisters, but I will tell you about it so that you may be wary.
You see, sisters, the devil has not forgotten us. He has invented
honours of his own for religious houses and has made laws by which we
go up and down in rank, as people do in the world. Learned men have to
observe this with regard to their studies (a matter of which I know
nothing): anyone, for example, who has got as far as reading theology
must not descend and read philosophy– that is their kind of honour,
according to which you must always be going up and never going down.
Even if someone were commanded by obedience to take a step down, he
would in his own mind consider himself slighted; and then someone would
take his part [and say] it was an insult; next, the devil would
discover reasons for this–and he seems to be an authority even in
God’s own law. Why, among ourselves, anyone who has been a prioress is
thereby incapacitated from holding any lower office for the rest of her
life. We must defer to the senior among us, and we are not allowed to
forget it either: sometimes it would appear to be a positive merit for
us to do this, because it is a rule of the Order.

The thing is enough to make one laugh–or, it would be more proper to
say, to make one weep. After all, the Order does not command us not to
be humble: it commands us to do everything in due form. And in matters
which concern my own esteem I ought not to be so formal as to insist
that this detail of our Rule shall be kept as strictly as the rest,
which we may in fact be observing very imperfectly. We must not put all
our effort into observing just this one detail: let my interests be
looked after by others–I will forget about myself altogether. The fact
is, although we shall never rise as far as Heaven in this way, we are
attracted by the thought of rising higher, and we dislike climbing
down. O, Lord, Lord, art Thou our Example and our Master? Yes, indeed.
And wherein did Thy honour consist, O Lord, Who hast honoured us? [128]
Didst Thou perchance lose it when Thou wert humbled even to death? No,
Lord, rather didst Thou gain it for all.

For the love of God, sisters! We have lost our way; we have taken the
wrong path from the very beginning. God grant that no soul be lost
through its attention to these wretched niceties about honour, when it
has no idea wherein honour consists. We shall get to the point of
thinking that we have done something wonderful because we have forgiven
a person for some trifling thing, which was neither a slight nor an
insult nor anything else. Then we shall ask the Lord to forgive us as
people who have done something important, just because we have forgiven
someone. Grant us, my God, to understand how little we understand
ourselves and how empty our hands are when we come to Thee that Thou,
of Thy mercy, mayest forgive us. For in truth, Lord, since all things
have an end and punishment is eternal, I can see nothing meritorious
which I may present to Thee that Thou mayest grant us so great a
favour. Do it, then, for the sake of Him Who asks it of Thee, and Who
may well do so, for He is always being wronged and offended.

How greatly the Lord must esteem this mutual love of ours one for
another! For, having given Him our wills, we have given Him complete
rights over us, and we cannot do that without love. See, then, sisters,
how important it is for us to love one another and to be at peace. The
good Jesus might have put everything else before our love for one
another, and said: ”Forgive us, Lord, because we are doing a great deal
of penance, or because we are praying often, and fasting, and because
we have left all for Thy sake and love Thee greatly.” But He has never
said: ”Because we would lose our lives for Thy sake”; or any of these
[numerous] other things which He might have said. He simply says:
”Because we forgive.” Perhaps the reason He said this rather than
anything else was because He knew that our fondness for this dreadful
honour made mutual love the hardest virtue for us to attain, though it
is the virtue dearest to His Father. Because of its very difficulty He
put it where He did, and after having asked for so many great gifts for
us, He offers it on our behalf to God.

Note particularly, sisters, that He says: ”As we forgive.” As I have
said, He takes this for granted. And observe especially with regard to
it that unless, after experiencing the favours granted by God in the
prayer that I have called perfect contemplation, a person is very
resolute, and makes a point, if the occasion arises, of forgiving, not
[only] these mere nothings which people call wrongs, but any wrong,
however grave, you need not think much of that person’s prayer. [129]
For wrongs have no effect upon a soul whom God draws to Himself in such
sublime prayer as this, nor does it care if it is highly esteemed or
no. That is not quite correct: it does care, for honour distresses much
more than dishonour and it prefers trials to a great deal of rest and
ease. For anyone to whom the Lord has really given His Kingdom no
longer wants a kingdom in this world, knowing that he is going the
right way to reign in a much more exalted manner, and having already
discovered by experience what great benefits the soul gains and what
progress it makes when it suffers for God’s sake. For only very rarely
does His Majesty grant it such great consolations, and then only to
those who have willingly borne many trials for His sake. For
contemplatives, as I have said elsewhere in this book, have to bear
heavy trials, and therefore the Lord seeks out for Himself souls of
great experience.

Understand, then, sisters, that as these persons have already learned
to rate everything at its proper valuation, they pay little attention
to things which pass away. A great wrong, or a great trial, may cause
them some momentary distress, but they will hardly have felt it when
reason will intervene, and will seem to raise its standard aloft, and
drive away their distress by giving them the joy of seeing how God has
entrusted them with the opportunity of gaining, in a single day, more
lasting favours and graces in His Majesty’s sight than they could gain
in ten years by means of trials which they sought on their own account.
This, as I understand (and I have talked about it with many
contemplatives), is quite usual, and I know for a fact that it happens.
Just as other people prize gold and jewels, so these persons prize and
desire trials, for they know quite well that trials will make them

Such persons would never on any account esteem themselves: they want
their sins to be known and like to speak about them to people who they
see have any esteem for them. The same is true of their descent, which
they know quite well will be of no advantage to them in the kingdom
which has no end. If being of good birth were any satisfaction to them,
it would be because this would enable them to serve God better. If they
are not well born, it distresses them when people think them better
than they are, and it causes them no distress to disabuse them, but
only pleasure. The reason for this is that those to whom God grants the
favour of possessing such humility and great love for Him forget
themselves when there is a possibility of rendering Him greater
services, and simply cannot believe that others are troubled by things
which they themselves do not consider as wrongs at all.

These last effects which I have mentioned are produced in persons who
have reached a high degree of perfection and to whom the Lord commonly
grants the favour of uniting them to Himself by perfect contemplation.
But the first of these effects–namely, the determination to suffer
wrongs even though such suffering brings distress–is very quickly seen
in anyone to whom the Lord has granted this grace of prayer as far as
the stage of union. If these effects are not produced in a soul and it
is not strengthened by prayer, you may take it that this was not Divine
favour but indulgence and illusion coming from the devil, which he
makes us think to be good, so that we may attach more importance to our

It may be that, when the Lord first grants these favours, the soul will
not immediately attain this fortitude. But, if He continues to grant
them, He will soon give it fortitude– certainly, at least, as regards
forgiveness, if not in the other virtues as well. I cannot believe that
a soul which has approached so nearly to Mercy Itself, and has learned
to know itself and the greatness of God’s pardon, will not immediately
and readily forgive, and be mollified and remain on good terms with a
person who has done it wrong. For such a soul remembers the consolation
and grace which He has shown it, in which it has recognized the signs
of great love, and it is glad that the occasion presents itself for
showing Him some love in return.

I repeat that I know many persons to whom Our Lord has granted the
grace of raising them to supernatural experiences and of giving them
this prayer, or contemplation, which has been described; and although I
may notice other faults and imperfections in them, I have never seen
such a person who had this particular fault, nor do I believe such a
person exists, if the favours he has received are of God. If any one of
you receives high favours, let her look within herself and see if they
are producing these effects, and, if they are not, let her be very
fearful, and believe that these consolations are not of God, Who, as I
have said, when He visits the soul, always enriches it. That is
certain; for, although the grace and the consolations may pass quickly,
it can be recognized in due course through the benefits which it
bestows on the soul. And, as the good Jesus knows this well, He gives a
definite assurance to His Holy Father that we are forgiving our

[126] ”Forgive us our debts.”

[127] Lit.: ”ill-treated.” The same verb is used in the following

[128] Lit.: ”our Honourer”–Honrador nuestro: a rather unusual phrase
which T. changes into the quite conventional honrado Maestro–”honoured

[129] St. Teresa left this sentence uncompleted. Luis de León added:
”You need not . . . prayer” in his edition, since when it has always
been included. It figures as an anonymous correction in T.

Describes the excellence of this prayer called the Paternoster, and the many
ways in which we shall find consolation in it.

The sublimity of the perfection of this evangelical prayer is something
for which we should give great praise to the Lord. So well composed by
the good Master was it, daughters, that each of us may use it in her
own way. I am astounded when I consider that in its few words are
enshrined all contemplation and perfection, so that if we study it no
other book seems necessary. For thus far in the Paternoster the Lord
has taught us the whole method of prayer and of high contemplation,
from the very beginnings of mental prayer, to Quiet and Union. With so
true a foundation to build upon, I could write a great book on prayer
if only I knew how to express myself. As you have seen, Our Lord is
beginning here to explain to us the effects which it produces, when the
favours come from Him.

I have wondered why His Majesty did not expound such obscure and
sublime subjects in greater detail so that we might all have understood
them. It has occurred to me that, as this prayer was meant to be a
general one for the use of all, so that everyone could interpret it as
he thought right, ask for what he wanted and find comfort in doing so,
He left the matter in doubt; [130] and thus contemplatives, who no
longer desire earthly things, and persons greatly devoted to God, can
ask for the heavenly favours which, through the great goodness of God,
may be given to us on earth. Those who still live on earth, and must
conform to the customs of their state, may also ask for the bread which
they need for their own maintenance and for that of their households,
as is perfectly just and right, and they may also ask for other things
according as they need them.

(Blessed be His name for ever and ever. Amen. For His sake I entreat
the Eternal Father to forgive my debts and grievous sins: though no one
has wronged me, and I have therefore no one to forgive, [131] I have
myself need for forgiveness every day. May He give me grace so that
every day I may have some petition to lay before Him.)

The good Jesus, then, has taught us a sublime method of prayer, and
begged that, in this our life of exile, we may be like the angels, if
we endeavour, with our whole might, to make our actions conform to our
words–in short, to be like the children of such a Father, and the
brethren of such a Brother. His Majesty knows that if, as I say, our
actions and our words are one, the Lord will unfailingly fulfil our
petitions, give us His kingdom and help us by means of supernatural
gifts, such as the Prayer of Quiet, perfect contemplation and all the
other favours which the Lord bestows on our trifling efforts–and
everything is trifling which we can achieve and gain by ourselves

It must be realized, however, that these two things– surrendering our
will to God and forgiving others–apply to all. True, some practise
them more and some less, as has been said: those who are perfect will
surrender their wills like the perfect souls they are and will forgive
others with the perfection that has been described. For our own part,
sisters, we will do what we can, and the Lord will accept it all. It is
as if He were to make a kind of agreement on our behalf with His
Eternal Father, and to say: ”Do this, Lord, and My brethren shall do
that.” It is certain that He for His own part will not fail us. Oh, how
well He pays us and how limitless are His rewards!

We may say this prayer only once, and yet in such a way that He will
know that there is no duplicity about us and that we shall do what we
say; and so He will leave us rich. We must never be insincere with Him,
for He loves us, in all our dealings with Him, to be honest, and to
treat Him frankly and openly, never saying one thing and meaning
another; and then He will always give us more than we ask for. Our good
Master knows that those who attain real perfection in their petitions
will reach this high degree through the favours which the Father will
grant them, and is aware that those who are already perfect, or who are
on the way to perfection, do not and cannot fear, for they say they
have trampled the world beneath their feet, and the Lord of the world
is pleased with them. They will derive the greatest hope of His
Majesty’s pleasure from the effects which He produces in their souls;
absorbed in these joys, they wish they were unable to remember that
there is any other world at all, and that they have enemies.

O Eternal Wisdom! O good Teacher! What a wonderful thing it is,
daughters, to have a wise and prudent Master who foresees our perils!
This is the greatest blessing that the spiritual soul still on earth
can desire, because it brings complete security. No words could ever
exaggerate the importance of this. The Lord, then, saw it was necessary
to awaken such souls and to remind them that they have enemies, and how
much greater danger they are in if they are unprepared, and, since if
they fall it will be from a greater height, how much more help they
need from the Eternal Father. So, lest they should fail to realize
their danger and suffer deception, He offers these petitions so
necessary to us all while we live in this exile: ”And lead us not,
Lord, into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

[130] Lit.: ”He left it thus confused.” Here follows in E., in place of
the rest of this paragraph, a passage which interrupts the trend of the
thought, and therefore, in the text above, is printed in italics and in
brackets at the end of this paragraph.

[131] The words ”though . . . forgive” are crossed out in the
manuscript, as is the following sentence ”May He . . . before Him.”

Treats of the great need which we have to beseech the Eternal Father to grant
us what we ask in these words: ”Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera
nos a malo.” [132] Explains certain temptations. This chapter is noteworthy.

There are great things here for us to meditate upon, sisters, and to
learn to understand as we pray. Remember I consider it quite certain
that those who attain perfection do not ask the Lord to deliver them
from trials, temptations, persecutions and conflicts–and that is
another sure and striking sign that these favours and this
contemplation which His Majesty gives them are coming from the Spirit
of the Lord and are not illusions. For, as I said a little way back,
perfect souls are in no way repelled by trials, but rather desire them
and pray for them and love them. They are like soldiers: the more wars
there are, the better they are pleased, because they hope to emerge
from them with the greater riches. [133] If there are no wars, they
serve for their pay, but they know they will not get very far on that.

Believe me, sisters, the soldiers of Christ–namely, those who
experience contemplation and practise prayer–are always ready for the
hour of conflict. They are never very much afraid of their open
enemies, for they know who they are and are sure that their strength
can never prevail against the strength which they themselves have been
given by the Lord: they will always be victorious and gain great
riches, so they will never turn their backs on the battle. Those whom
they fear, and fear rightly, and from whom they always beg the Lord to
deliver them, are enemies who are treacherous, devils who transform
themselves and come and visit them in the disguise of angels of light.
The soul fails to recognize them until they have done it a great deal
of harm; they suck our life-blood and put an end to our virtues and we
go on yielding to temptation without knowing it. From these enemies let
us pray the Lord often, in the Paternoster, to deliver us: may He not
allow us to run into temptations which deceive us; may their poison be
detected; and may light and truth not be hidden from us. How rightly
does our good Master teach us to pray for this and pray for it in our

Consider, daughters, in how many ways these enemies do us harm. Do not
suppose that the sole danger lies in their making us believe that the
consolations and the favours which they can counterfeit to us come from
God. This, I think, in a way, is the least harmful thing they can do;
it may even help some whom this sensible devotion entices to spend more
time in prayer and thus to make greater progress. Being ignorant that
these consolations come from the devil, and knowing themselves to be
unworthy of such favours, they will never cease to give thanks to God
and will feel the greater obligation to serve Him; further, they will
strive to prepare themselves for more favours which the Lord may grant
them, since they believe them to come from His hand.

Always strive after humility, sisters, and try to realize that you are
not worthy of these graces, and do not seek them. It is because many
souls do this, I feel sure, that the devil loses them: he thinks that
he has caused their ruin, but out of the evil which he has been trying
to do the Lord brings good. For His Majesty regards our intention,
which is to please Him and serve Him and keep near to Him in prayer,
and the Lord is faithful. We shall do well to be cautious, and not to
let our humility break down or to become in any way vainglorious.
Entreat the Lord to deliver you from this, daughters, and you need then
have no fear that His Majesty will allow you to be comforted much by
anyone but Himself.

Where the devil can do great harm without our realizing it is in making
us believe that we possess virtues which we do not: that is
pestilential. For, when consolations and favours come to us, we feel
that we are doing nothing but receive, and have the greater obligation
to serve; but when we suffer from this other delusion we think that we
are giving and serving, and that the Lord will be obliged to reward us;
and this, little by little, does us a great deal of harm. On the one
hand, our humility is weakened, while, on the other, we neglect to
cultivate that virtue, believing we have already acquired it. We think
we are walking safely, when, without realizing it, we stumble, and fall
into a pit from which we cannot escape. Though we may not consciously
have committed any mortal sin which would have sent us infallibly to
hell, we have sprained our ankles and cannot continue on that road
which I began to speak about and which I have not forgotten. You can
imagine how much progress will be made by anyone who is at the bottom
of a huge pit: it will be the end of him altogether and he will be
lucky if he escapes falling right down to hell: at best, he will never
get on with his journey. This being so, he will be unable to help
either himself or others. It will be a bad thing for others, too, for,
once the pit has been dug, a great many passers-by may fall into it.
Only if the person who has fallen in gets out of it and fills it up
with earth will further harm to himself and others be prevented. But I
warn you that this temptation is full of peril. I know a great deal
about it from experience, so I can describe it to you, though not as
well as I should like. What can we do about it, sisters? To me the best
thing seems to be what our Master teaches us: to pray, and to beseech
the Eternal Father not to allow us to fall into temptation.

There is something else, too, which I want to tell you. If we think the
Lord has given us a certain grace, we must understand that it is a
blessing which we have received but which He may take away from us
again, as indeed, in the great providence of God, often happens. Have
you never observed this yourselves, sisters? I certainly have:
sometimes I think I am extremely detached, and, in fact, when it comes
to the test, I am; yet at other times I find I have such attachment to
things which the day before I should perhaps have scoffed at that I
hardly know myself. At some other time I seem to have so much courage
that I should not quail at anything I was asked to do in order to serve
God, and, when I am tested, I find that I really can do these things.
And then on the next day I discover that I should not have the courage
to kill an ant for God’s sake if I were to meet with any opposition
about it. Sometimes it seems not to matter in the least if people
complain or speak ill of me, and, when the test comes, I still feel
like this–indeed, I even get pleasure from it. And then there come
days when a single word distresses me and I long to leave the world
altogether, for everything in it seems to weary me. And I am not the
only person to be like this, for I have noticed the same thing in many
people better than myself, so I know it can happen.

That being so, who can say that he possesses any virtue, or that he is
rich, if at the time when he most needs this virtue he finds himself
devoid of it? No, sisters: let us rather think of ourselves as lacking
it and not run into debt without having the means of repayment. Our
treasure must come from elsewhere and we never know when God will leave
us in this prison of our misery without giving us any. If others,
thinking we are good, bestow favours and honours upon us, both they and
we shall look foolish when, as I say, it becomes clear that our virtues
are only lent us. The truth is that, if we serve the Lord with
humility, He will sooner or later succour us in our needs. But, if we
are not strong in this virtue, the Lord will leave us to ourselves, as
they say, at every step. This is a great favour on His part, for it
helps us to realize fully that we have nothing which has not been given

And now you must take note of this other piece of advice. The devil
makes us believe that we have some virtue–patience, let us
say–because we have determination and make continual resolutions to
suffer a great deal for God’s sake. We really and truly believe that we
would suffer all this, and the devil encourages us in the belief, and
so we are very pleased. I advise you to place no reliance on these
virtues: we ought not to think that we know anything about them beyond
their names, or to imagine that the Lord has given them to us, until we
come to the test. For it may be that at the first annoying word which
people say to you your patience will fall to the ground. Whenever you
have frequently to suffer, praise God for beginning to teach you this
virtue, and force yourself to suffer patiently, for this is a sign that
He wants you to repay Him for the virtue which He is giving you, and
you must think of it only as a deposit, as has already been said.

The devil has yet another temptation, which is to make us appear very
poor in spirit: we are in the habit of saying that we want nothing and
care nothing about anything: but as soon as the chance comes of our
being given something, even though we do not in the least need it, all
our poverty of spirit disappears. Accustoming ourselves to saying this
goes far towards making us think it true. It is very important always
to be on the watch and to realize that this is a temptation, both in
the things I have referred to and in many others. For when the Lord
really gives one of these solid virtues, it seems to bring all the rest
in its train: that is a very well-known fact. But I advise you once
more, even if you think you possess it, to suspect that you may be
mistaken; for the person who is truly humble is always doubtful about
his own virtues; very often they seem more genuine and of greater worth
when he sees them in his neighbours.

The devil makes you think you are poor, and he has some reason for
doing so, because you have made (with the lips, of course) a vow of
poverty, as have some other people who practise prayer. I say ”with the
lips” because, if before making the vow we really meant in our hearts
what we were going to say, the devil could not possibly lead us into
that temptation–not even in twenty years, or in our entire
lifetime–for we should see that we were deceiving the whole world, and
ourselves into the bargain. Well, we make our vow of poverty, and then
one of us, believing herself all the time to be keeping it, says: ”I do
not want anything, but I am having this because I cannot do without it:
after all, if I am to serve God, I must live, and He wants us to keep
these bodies of ours alive.” So the devil, in his angelic disguise,
suggests to her that there are a thousand different things which she
needs and that they are all good for her. And all the time he is
persuading her to believe that she is still being true to her vow and
possesses the virtue of poverty and that what she has done is no more
than her duty.

And now let us take a test case, for we can only get to the truth of
this by keeping a continual watch on ourselves: then, if there is any
cause for anxiety on our part, we shall at once recognize the symptoms.
Here is someone who has a larger income than he needs–I mean, needs
for the necessaries of life–and, though he could do with a single
manservant, he keeps three. Yet, when he is sued in the courts in
connection with a part of his property, or some poor peasant omits to
pay him his dues, he gets as upset and excited about it as if his life
were at stake. He says he must look after his property or he will lose
it, and considers that that justifies him. I do not suggest that he
ought to neglect his property: whether or no things go well with him,
he should look after it. But a person whose profession of poverty is a
genuine one makes so little account of these things that, although for
various reasons he attends to his own interests, he never worries about
them, because he never supposes he will lose everything he has; and,
even if he should do so, he would consider it of no great moment, for
the matter is one of secondary importance to him and not his principal
concern. His thoughts rise high above it and he has to make an effort
to occupy himself with it at all.

Now monks and nuns are demonstrably poor–they must be so, for they
possess nothing: sometimes because there is nothing for them to
possess. But if a religious of the type just mentioned is given
anything, it is most unlikely that he will think it superfluous. He
always likes to have something laid by; if he can get a habit of good
cloth, he will not ask for one of coarse material. He likes to have
some trifle, if only books, which he can pawn or sell, for if he falls
ill he will need extra comforts. Sinner that I am! Is this the vow of
poverty that you took? Stop worrying about yourself and leave God to
provide for you, come what may. If you are going about trying to
provide for your own future, it would be less trouble for you to have a
fixed income. This may not involve any sin, but it is as well that we
should learn to recognize our imperfections, so that we can see how far
we are from possessing the virtue of poverty, which we must beg and
obtain from God. If we think we already possess it, we shall grow
careless, and, what is worse, we shall be deceiving ourselves.

The same thing happens with regard to humility. [134] We think that we
have no desire for honour and that we care nothing about anything; but
as soon as our honour comes to be slighted in some detail our feelings
and actions at once show that we are not humble at all. If an
opportunity occurs for us to gain more honour, we do not reject it;
even those who are poor, and to whom I have just referred, are anxious
to have as much profit as possible–God grant we may not go so far as
actually to seek it! We always have phrases on our lips about wanting
nothing, and caring nothing about anything, and we honestly think them
to be true, and get so used to repeating them that we come to believe
them more and more firmly. But when, as I say, we keep on the watch, we
realize that this is a temptation, as regards both the virtue I have
spoken of and all the rest; for when we really have one of these solid
virtues, it brings all the rest in its train: that is a very well-known

[132] ”And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

[133] Lit.: ”gains”, as also in the next paragraph. E. has: ”because
they have hopes of becoming rich.” The reference in both manuscripts
is, of course, to the spoils and booty of war.

[134] It will be noticed that this paragraph is similar to the last
paragraph in the text of V. (p. 254, above). The differences, however,
are so wide that each of the two is given as it stands.

Continues the same subject and gives counsels concerning different kinds of
temptation. Suggests two remedies by which we may be freed from temptations.

Beware also, daughters, of certain kinds of humility which the devil
inculcates in us and which make us very uneasy about the gravity of our
past sins. There are many ways in which he is accustomed to depress us
so that in time we withdraw from Communion and give up our private
prayer, because the devil suggests to us that we are not worthy to
engage in it. When we come to the Most Holy Sacrament, we spend the
time during which we ought to be receiving grace in wondering whether
we are properly prepared or no. The thing gets to such a pass that a
soul can be made to believe that, through being what it is, it has been
forsaken by God, and thus it almost doubts His mercy. Everything such a
person does appears to her to be dangerous, and all the service she
renders, however good it may be, seems to her fruitless. She loses
confidence and sits with her hands in her lap because she thinks she
can do nothing well and that what is good in others is wrong in

Pay great attention, daughters, to this point which I shall now make,
because sometimes thinking yourselves so wicked may be humility and
virtue and at other times a very great temptation. I have had
experience of this, so I know it is true. Humility, however deep it be,
neither disquiets nor troubles nor disturbs the soul; it is accompanied
by peace, joy and tranquillity. Although, on realizing how wicked we
are, we can see clearly that we deserve to be in hell, and are
distressed by our sinfulness, and rightly think that everyone should
hate us, yet, if our humility is true, this distress is accompanied by
an interior peace and joy of which we should not like to be deprived.
Far from disturbing or depressing the soul, it enlarges it and makes it
fit to serve God better. The other kind of distress only disturbs and
upsets the mind and troubles the soul, so grievous is it. I think the
devil is anxious for us to believe that we are humble, and, if he can,
to lead us to distrust God.

When you find yourselves in this state, cease thinking, so far as you
can, of your own wretchedness, and think of the mercy of God and of His
love and His sufferings for us. If your state of mind is the result of
temptation, you will be unable to do even this, for it will not allow
you to quiet your thoughts or to fix them on anything but will only
weary you the more: it will be a great thing if you can recognize it as
a temptation. This is what happens when we perform excessive penances
in order to make ourselves believe that, because of what we are doing,
we are more penitent than others. If we conceal our penances from our
confessor or superior, or if we are told to give them up and do not
obey, that is a clear case of temptation. Always try to obey, however
much it may hurt you to do so, for that is the greatest possible

There is another very dangerous kind of temptation: a feeling of
security caused by the belief that we shall never again return to our
past faults and to the pleasures of the world. ”I know all about these
things now,” we say, ”and I realize that they all come to an end and I
get more pleasure from the things of God.” If this temptation comes to
beginners it is very serious; for, having this sense of security, they
think nothing of running once more into occasions of sin. They soon
come up against these–and then God preserve them from falling back
farther than before! The devil, seeing that here are souls which may do
him harm and be of great help to others, does all in his power to
prevent them from rising again. However many consolations and pledges
of love the Lord may give you, therefore, you must never be so sure of
yourselves that you cease to be afraid of falling back again, and you
must keep yourselves from occasions of sin.

Do all you can to discuss these graces and favours with someone who can
give you light and have no secrets from him. However sublime your
contemplation may be, take great care both to begin and to end every
period of prayer with self-examination. If these favours come from God,
you will do this more frequently, without either taking or needing any
advice from me, for such favours bring humility with them and always
leave us with more light by which we may see our own unworthiness. I
will say no more here, for you will find many books which give this
kind of advice. I have said all this because I have had experience of
the matter and have sometimes found myself in difficulties of this
nature. Nothing that can be said about it, however, will give us
complete security.

What, then, Eternal Father, can we do but flee to Thee and beg Thee not
to allow these enemies of ours to lead us into temptations? If attacks
are made upon us publicly, we shall easily surmount them, with Thy
help. But how can we be ready for these treacherous assaults, [136] my
God? We need constantly to pray for Thy help. Show us, Lord, some way
of recognizing them and guarding against them. Thou knowest that there
are not many who walk along this road, and if so many fears are to
beset them, there will be far fewer.

What a strange thing it is! You might suppose that the devil never
tempted those who do not walk along the road of prayer! People get a
greater shock when deception overtakes a single one of the many persons
who are striving to be perfect than when a hundred thousand others are
deceived and fall into open sin, whom there is no need to look at in
order to see if they are good or evil, for Satan can be seen at their
side a thousand leagues away. But as a matter of fact people are right
about this, for very few who say the Paternoster in the way that has
been described are deceived by the devil, so that, if the deception of
one of them causes surprise, that is because it is a new and an unusual
thing. For human nature is such that we scarcely notice what we see
frequently but are astounded at what we see seldom or hardly at all.
And the devils themselves encourage this astonishment, for if a single
soul attains perfection it robs them of many others.

It is so strange, I repeat, that I am not surprised if people are
amazed at it; for, unless they are altogether at fault, they are much
safer on this road than on any other, just as people who watch a
bull-fight from the grand-stand are safer than the men who expose
themselves to a thrust from the bull’s horns. This comparison, which I
heard somewhere, seems to me very exact. Do not be afraid to walk on
these roads, sisters, for there are many of them in the life of
prayer–and some people get most help by using one of them and others
by using another, as I have said. This road is a safe one and you will
the more readily escape from temptation if you are near the Lord than
if you are far away from Him. Beseech and entreat this of Him, as you
do so many times each day in the Paternoster.

[135] A marginal addition made, in the autograph, to the title by
another hand reads: ”This chapter is very noteworthy, both for those
tempted by false kinds of humility and for confessors.” This is found
in T. and in most of the editions.

[136] Lit.: ”these treasons.”

Describes how, by striving always to walk in the love and fear of God, we shall
travel safely amid all these temptations.

Show us, then, O our good Master, some way in which we may live through
this most dangerous warfare without frequent surprise. The best way
that we can do this, daughters, is to use the love and fear given us by
His Majesty. For love will make us quicken our steps, while fear will
make us look where we are setting our feet so that we shall not fall on
a road where there are so many obstacles. Along that road all living
creatures must pass, and if we have these two things we shall certainly
not be deceived.

You will ask me how you can tell if you really have these two very,
very great virtues. [137] You are right to ask, for we can never be
quite definite and certain about it; if we were sure that we possessed
love, we should be sure that we were in a state of grace. But you know,
sisters, there are some indications which are in no way secret but so
evident that even a blind man, as people say, could see them. You may
not wish to heed them, but they cry so loud for notice that they make
quite an uproar, for there are not many who possess them to the point
of perfection and thus they are the more readily noticed. Love and fear
of God! These are two strong castles whence we can wage war on the
world and on the devils.

Those who really love God love all good, seek all good, help forward
all good, praise all good, and invariably join forces with good men and
help and defend them. They love only truth and things worthy of love.
Do you think it possible that anyone who really and truly loves God can
love vanities, riches, worldly pleasures or honours? Can he engage in
strife or feel envy? No; for his only desire is to please the Beloved.
Such persons die with longing for Him to love them and so they will
give their lives to learn how they may please Him better. Will they
hide their love? No: if their love for God is genuine love they cannot.
Why, think of Saint Paul or the Magdalen. One of these–Saint
Paul–found in three days that he was sick with love. The Magdalen
discovered this on the very first day. And how certain of it they were!
For there are degrees of love for God, which shows itself in proportion
to its strength. If there is little of it, it shows itself but little;
if there is much, it shows itself a great deal. But it always shows
itself, whether little or much, provided it is real love for God.

But to come to what we are chiefly treating of now–the deceptions and
illusions practised against contemplatives by the devil–such souls
have no little love; for had they not a great deal they would not be
contemplatives, and so their love shows itself plainly and in many
ways. Being a great fire, it cannot fail to give out a very bright
light. If they have not much love, they should proceed with many
misgivings and realize that they have great cause for fear; and they
should try to find out what is wrong with them, say their prayers, walk
in humility and beseech the Lord not to lead them into temptation, into
which, I fear, they will certainly fall unless they bear this sign. But
if they walk humbly and strive to discover the truth and do as their
confessor bids them and tell him the plain truth, then the Lord is
faithful, and, as has been said, by using the very means with which he
had thought to give them death, the devil will give them life, with
however many fantasies and illusions he tries to deceive them. If they
submit to the teaching of the Church, they need not fear; whatever
fantasies and illusions the devil may invent, he will at once betray
his presence.

But if you feel this love for God which I have spoken of, and the fear
which I shall now describe, you may go on your way with happiness and
tranquillity. In order to disturb the soul and keep it from enjoying
these great blessings, the devil will suggest to it a thousand false
fears and will persuade other people to do the same; for if he cannot
win souls he will at least try to make them lose something, and among
the losers will be those who might have gained greatly had they
believed that such great favours, bestowed upon so miserable a
creature, come from God, and that it is possible for them to be thus
bestowed, for sometimes we seem to forget His past mercies.

Do you suppose that it is of little use to the devil to suggest these
fears? No, it is most useful to him, for there are two well-known ways
in which he can make use of this means to harm us, to say nothing of
others. First, he can make those who listen to him fearful of engaging
in prayer, because they think that they will be deceived. Secondly, he
can dissuade many from approaching God who, as I have said, see that He
is so good that He will hold intimate converse with sinners. Many such
souls think that He will treat them in the same way, and they are
right: I myself know certain persons inspired in this way who began the
habit of prayer and in a short time became truly devout and received
great favours from the Lord.

Therefore, sisters, when you see someone to whom the Lord is granting
these favours, praise Him fervently, yet do not imagine that she is
safe, but aid her with more prayer, for no one can be safe in this life
amid the engulfing dangers of this stormy sea. Wherever this love is,
then, you will not fail to recognize it; I do not know how it could be
concealed. For they say that it is impossible for us to hide our love
even for creatures, and that, the more we try to conceal it, the more
clearly is it revealed. And yet this is so worthless that it hardly
deserves the name of love, for it is founded upon nothing at all: it is
loathsome, indeed, to make this comparison. How, then, could a love
like God’s be concealed–so strong, so righteous, continually
increasing, never seeing cause for ceasing to manifest itself, and
resting upon the firm foundation of the love which is its reward? As to
the reality of this reward there can be no doubt, for it is manifest in
Our Lord’s great sorrows, His trials, the shedding of His blood and
even the loss of His life. Certainly, then, there is no doubt as to
this love. It is indeed love, and deserves that name, of which worldly
vanities have robbed it. God help me! How different must the one love
be from the other to those who have experience of both!

May His Majesty be pleased to grant us to experience this before He
takes us from this life, for it will be a great thing at the hour of
death, when we are going we know not whither, to realize that we shall
be judged by One Whom we have loved above all things, and with a
passion that makes us entirely forget ourselves. Once our debts have
been paid we shall be able to walls in safety. We shall not be going
into a foreign land, but into our own country, for it belongs to Him
Whom we have loved so truly and Who Himself loves us. For this love of
His, besides its other properties, is better than all earthly affection
in that, if we love Him, we are quite sure that He loves us too.
Remember, my daughters, the greatness of the gain which comes from this
love, and of our loss if we do not possess it, for in that case we
shall be delivered into the hands of the tempter, hands so cruel and so
hostile to all that is good, and so friendly to all that is evil.

What will become of the poor soul when it falls into these hands after
emerging from all the pains and trials of death? How little rest it
will have! How it will be torn as it goes down to hell! What swarms and
varieties of serpents it will meet! How dreadful is that place! How
miserable that lodging! Why, a pampered person (and most of those who
go to hell are that) can hardly bear to spend a single night in a bad
inn: what, then, will be the feelings of that wretched soul when it is
condemned to such an inn as this and has to spend eternity there? [138]
Let us not try to pamper ourselves, daughters. We are quite well off
here: there is only a single night for us to spend in this bad inn. Let
us praise God and strive to do penance in this life. How sweet will be
the death of those who have done penance for all their sins and have
not to go to purgatory! It may be that they will begin to enjoy glory
even in this world, and will know no fear, but only peace.

Even if we do not attain to this, sisters, let us beseech God that, if
in due course we must suffer these pains, it may be with a hope of
emerging from them. Then we shall suffer them willingly and lose
neither the friendship nor the grace of God. May He grant us these in
this life so that we may not unwittingly fall into temptation.

[137] Lit.: ”these two virtues, so great, so great.”

[138] Lit.: ”to an inn for ever, ever, for eternity.” The repetition of
”ever” (siempre) reminds one of the famous reminiscence of St. Teresa’s
childhood, to be found in her Life, Chap. I.