But alas, my God, how true it is that even in spiritual matters we often want to understand things through our own very twisted opinion of the truth, just as we also do in worldly things. We think we must measure our progress by the years in which we have practiced prayer and, it even seems, put a measure on Him who gives His gifts without any measure, when He so desires. He can give more to one in half a year than to another in many years! This is something I have seen so clearly in many persons that I’m amazed how we can even stop to consider it.
Well, I say that it is dangerous to count the number of years in which you have practiced prayer; even though humility may be present, I think there can remain a kind of feeling that you deserve something for the service. I don’t mean that you don’t gain merit and that you will not be well paid. But I consider it certain that spiritual persons who think that they deserve these delights of spirit for the many years they have practiced prayer will not ascend to the summit of the spiritual life. Isn’t it enough that God take them by the hand to keep them from committing the offenses they did before they practiced prayer, without their wanting, so to speak, to sue God for money? I don’t think it shows profound humility. Indeed, it could; but I consider it audacity. I don’t think that I, who have little humility, would ever have dared to do so. Now it might be that since I have never served, I have never asked; perhaps if I had served, I would desire more than anyone that the Lord repay me.
I don’t say that a soul will not grow or that God will not give this increase if its prayer has been humble, but I say that those years of service should be forgotten; for in comparison with one drop of the blood the Lord shed for us, everything we do is disgusting. And if in serving more we become more indebted, what is this we seek? For if we pay one maravedí of the debt, we are given a thousand ducats in return. Let us out of love for God set aside these judgments because they belong to Him. These comparisons are always bad, even in earthly matters; what must they amount to in matters that only God knows about? And His Majesty showed it well when He paid as much to the workers who came last as to those who came first.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, 39.9,15–16
For the Lord gives when He desires, as He desires, and to whom He desires. Since these blessings belong to Him, He does no injustice to anyone. #StTeresaofAvila #GospelOfTheDayTweet
Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.