Quote of the day, 14 April: St. Teresa of Avila

Let the Lord kiss me with the kiss of His mouth, for Your breasts are better than wine, etc.

Cf. Song of Solomon 1:1, Douay-Rheims edition

It will seem to you that there are some words in the Song of Songs that could have been said in another style. In light of our dullness, such an opinion doesn’t surprise me. I have heard some persons say that they avoid listening to them. […]

O my Lord, how poorly we profit from the blessing You grant us! You seek ways and means and you devise plans to show Your love for us; we, inexperienced in loving You, esteem this love so poorly that our minds, little exercised in love, go where they always go and cease to think of the great mysteries this language, spoken by the Holy Spirit, contains within itself. What more was necessary than this language in order to enkindle us in His love and make us realize that not without good reason did He choose this style.

Indeed, I recall hearing a priest who was a religious preach a very admirable sermon, most of which was an explanation of those loving delights with which the bride communed with God. And there was so much laughter, and what he said was so poorly taken, that I was shocked.

He was speaking about love since the sermon was on Maundy Thursday when one shouldn’t be speaking of anything else [i.e., Holy Thursday, which recalls Jesus’ washing of the disciples’ feet and the mandatum novum (the new commandment of love); Cf. Jn 13:1–15]. And I see clearly that the reason for not understanding is the one I mentioned (that we practice so poorly the love of God), for it doesn’t seem to us possible for a soul to commune in such a way with God.

These people did not benefit, surely because they did not understand, nor, I believe, did they think anything but that the preacher made the sermon up in his own head. Yet, I know other persons who have drawn out great good, delight, and security against fears, so much so that they had to offer special praise to our Lord.

He has left a salutary remedy to souls that love Him with a fervent love because they understand and see that it is possible for God to humble Himself so much. For experience was not enough to keep them from fearing when the Lord granted them great favors. What they see represented here makes them feel secure.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Meditations on the Song of Songs: Ch. 1, nos. 3–5

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.

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