Wisdom of Life

St. Teresa of Ávila: On the Wisdom of Prayer, Humility, and Love

“Tear your heart away from everything else;
then seek God and you will surely find Him.”

“It is foolish to think that we will enter heaven
without entering into ourselves.”

 

IMG_20200113_141944“It is love alone that gives worth to all things. The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love turns work into rest. In order that love be fully satisfied, it is necessary that It lower Itself and that It lower Itself to nothingness and transform this nothingness into fire.

Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. The happy result of detachment is inner freedom, freedom from worry about bodily comfort, honor, and wealth. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Let the truth be in your hearts, as it will be if you practise meditation, and you will see clearly what love we are bound to have for our neighbors.

God calls to us in countless little ways all the time. Through illnesses and suffering and through sorrow he calls to us. Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us. No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.

The Lord has no body now on earth but yours, no hands now but yours, no feet now but yours. Yours are the eyes through which His compassion looks out to the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which he is to bless His people.

How humility exists, or can exist, without love, or love without humility… What does it matter to us if we are blamed by them all, provided we are without blame in the sight of God?

Remember that true humility consists in being ready for what the Lord wants to do with you and happy that he should do it, and in considering yourselves unworthy to be called his servants. Humility, which is the ointment for our wounds; if we are truly humble, God, the Physician, will come in due course, even though He tarry, to heal us.

When we proceed with all this caution, we find stumbling-blocks everywhere; for we are afraid of everything, and so dare not go farther, as if we could arrive at these Mansions by letting others make the journey for us! That is not possible, my sisters; so, for the love of God, let us make a real effort: let us leave our reason and our fears in His hands and let us forget the weakness of our nature which is apt to cause us so much worry. Let our superiors see to the care of our bodies; that must be their concern: our own task is only to journey with good speed so that we may see God. Although we get few or no comforts here, we shall be making a great mistake if we worry over our health, especially as it will not be improved by our anxiety about it — that I well know. I know, too, that our progress has nothing to do with the body, which is the thing that matters least. What the journey which I am referring to demands is great humility, and it is the lack of this, I think, if you see what I mean, which prevents us from making progress. It is a most certain truth that the richer we see ourselves to be, confessing at the same time our poverty, the greater will be our progress, and the more real our humility.

The soul of the righteous man is nothing but a paradise. I can find nothing with which to compare the great beauty of a soul and its great capacity. In fact, however acute our intellects may be, they will no more be able to attain to a comprehension of this than to an understanding of God; for, as He Himself says, He created us in His image and likeness.

Souls without prayer are like people whose bodies or limbs are paralysed: they possess feet and hands but they cannot control them. Mental prayer is, as I see it, simply a friendly intercourse and frequent solitary conversation with Him who, as we know, loves us. It is of great importance, when we begin to practise prayer, not to let ourselves be frightened by our own thoughts. For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Excerpts from:

  • Teresa of Ávila, Interior Castle
  • Teresa of Ávila, The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila by Herself
  • Teresa of Ávila, The Way of Perfection

***

~Teresa of Ávila, born Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a Spanish noblewoman who chose a monastic life in the Catholic Church.

Excellence Reporter 2020

Categories: Wisdom of Life

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