I see clearly the great mercy the Lord bestowed on me; for though I continued to associate with the world, I had the courage to practice prayer.St. Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, Chap. 8, no. 2
Teresa in a letter once called this work of hers the Book of God’s Mercies. The infinite divine mercy, persistent and inexhaustible alongside our shoddy lives, provides the underlying doctrinal support of her Life.
Convinced of her own misery, she is convinced too that the story of her life can serve as a dark backdrop for the glorious contrasting light of His Majesty’s mercy. And what mercy; reckless and prodigal and lavish, without any seeming limits to the favors He bestowed.
Her doctrinal thesis rises out of her personal story. The mercy of God reaching out to the misery of humans is not an exception but a law. Mercy and munificence pervade the divine attitude, reaching out toward every soul.
She is certain that everyone is called to the summit of the mountain where only the glory of God dwells, that God is keeping watch, waiting for the hour to give.
Teresa, or the reader, can put off the hour; yet if and when it arrives, early or late (her early childhood or her late conversion), God will not fail to act with a generous mercy substantially identical with that referred to in the book.
“Oh, what a good friend You make, my Lord! How you proceed by favoring and enduring. You wait for others to adapt to Your nature, and in the meanwhile You put up with theirs!” (Life, Chap. 8, no. 6).
It is in this sense that Teresa’s case is a typical one.
Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D.
The Book of Her Life, Introduction (excerpt)
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.
Featured image: Our featured image is an early portrait of Saint Teresa by an unknown artist that prominently features the traditional banner bearing these words from Psalm 89:1, “Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo” (I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever).