My experience explains—and close attention should be given to it for the love of the Lord—that even though a soul may reach the stage in which God grants it such wonderful favors in prayer, it should not trust in itself; it can fall.
The devil plays a trick on the soul. Since it sees itself so close to God and perceives the difference there is between heavenly and earthly goods and the love the Lord shows it, it gains confidence from this love and the feeling of security that it will not fall away from what it enjoys.
It thinks it clearly sees the reward and that it is no longer possible for it to abandon something that, even in this life, is so delightful and pleasing for anything as foul and base as earthly pleasure. And by means of this confidence, the devil takes away its lowly estimation of itself.
This self-reliance was what destroyed me. For this reason and for every reason there is need of a master and for discussions with spiritual persons. I truly believe that God will not fail to favor the soul that reaches this state; nor will He allow it to be lost, unless it completely abandons His Majesty.
But when, as I have said, it falls, it should be extremely careful for the love of the Lord not to be tricked into giving up prayer, as I was by the devil through false humility—as I have already said and would like to say many times. It should trust in the goodness of God, which is greater than all the evils we are capable of.
And He doesn’t remember our ingratitude when we, although knowing about it, desire to return to His friendship; nor does He remember the favors He bestowed on us as punishment for these evils. On the contrary, all of this helps us to receive pardon more quickly as members of His household who have eaten, as I say, from His table.
Souls should remember His words and see what He did with me; before I grew tired of offending Him, His Majesty began to pardon me. He never tires of giving, nor can He exhaust His mercies. Let us not tire of receiving. May He be blessed forever, amen—and may all things praise Him.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, chap. 19, nos. 13–15 (excerpts)
On Holy Wednesday 4 April 1515, Saint Teresa of Avila was baptized in the parish of St. John the Baptist in Avila, Spain. Her godfather was Francisco Núñez Vela, the brother of Blasco Núñez Vela y Villalba (c. 1490–January 18, 1546), the first Spanish viceroy of Peru; her godmother was María del Aguila.
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.