Quote of the day, 31 January: St. Teresa of Avila

The grace of the Holy Spirit be with your charities, my daughters and sisters.

You should know that I have never loved you as much as I do now, nor have you ever been so obliged to serve the Lord, for he has given you the great favor of being able to taste something of his cross and share in the terrible abandonment that he endured on it. Happy the day you entered that house where such a fortunate event was reserved for you!

I envy you very much, and indeed when I learned of all those changes [see note below]—for everything was carefully communicated to me—and that they wanted to expel you from that house and about other details, I felt the greatest interior joy. I saw that, without your having crossed the sea [to the Americas], our Lord revealed to you mines containing eternal treasures.

Through these, I hope in the Lord, you will be left very rich and able to share with those of us who are here. For I believe that he will enable you to bear all without your offending him in any way. Don’t be afflicted that you feel it very much, for the Lord would want you to understand that you are not capable of as much as you thought when you were once so desirous of suffering.

Courage, courage, my daughters. Remember that God does not give anyone more trials than can be suffered and that His Majesty is with the afflicted [Cf. 1 Cor 10:13] For this is certain, there is no reason to fear but to hope in his mercy.

He will reveal the whole truth; and some machinations, which the devil kept hidden so as to create a disturbance, will be made known. This was more painful for me than all that is happening now.

Prayer, prayer, my sisters, and now let humility shine forth—and obedience in such a way that no one, especially the former prioress [María de San José] practices it more toward the appointed vicaress [Beatriz de la Madre de Dios].

Oh, what a good time it is for gathering fruit from the resolutions you made to serve our Lord. Consider that often he desires to have proof that our works are in conformity with our resolutions and words.

Bring honor to the daughters of the Blessed Virgin, your sisters, in this great persecution, for if you help one another, the good Jesus will help you. Even though he sleeps at sea, when the storm gathers strength he calms the winds [Cf. Mt 8:25-26].

He wants us to ask of him, and he loves us so much that he is always looking for ways to be of benefit to us. May his name be blessed forever, amen, amen, amen.

In all these houses they are urgently praying to God for you, and so I hope in his goodness that he will soon provide the remedy for everything. So strive to be joyful and reflect that, if carefully considered, all that is suffered for so good a God, who suffered so much for us, is small, for you have not reached the point of shedding your blood for him.

You are among your sisters and not in Algiers [i.e. risking martyrdom by the Muslims]. Let your Spouse act and you will find that it won’t be too long before the sea will swallow up those who wage war on us in the manner of King Pharaoh [Cf. Ex 14:28]. And he will set his people free, and everyone will be left with the desire to suffer again, so great will be the gain they feel from what they underwent.

    Saint Teresa of Avila

    Letter 284 (excerpts)
    31 January 1579

    Madre María de San José

    Madre María de San José (Salazar), the prioress of Seville, was a great figure among the nuns of the Teresian Reform. Discalced Carmelite scholar Kieran Kavanaugh indicates that the cordial, intimate friendship that María de San José shared with St. Teresa was accorded to none of the other nuns.

    In 1578 the provincial of the Carmelites of the ancient observance in Andalusia, Diego de Cárdenas deposed María from the office of prioress because of false accusations that were made against her by Sister Beatriz de la Madre de Dios, who Cárdenas then appointed as prioress.

    Teresa knew all about what was happening. Lest this particular letter be confiscated, she sent it to her good friend, the prior of the Carthusians, so that he might read or give it to the interested nuns.

    In the following year, Fray Angel de Salazar (no relation) was named vicar for the Discalced friars and nuns. In reviewing the process against María de San José, he concluded that removal from office was without foundation and restored her rights.

    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: This image of Letter 148 from St. Teresa to Madre María de San José (Salazar) in Seville is a brilliant example of the plain-speaking Saint addressing the prioress of Seville. At the beginning of the letter, Teresa writes:

    “Always include on a small piece of paper a list of the things you want me to answer. Your letters are long—although they don’t seem so, because of the joy they give me; but if when in a hurry I have to read them all over in order to answer them, they do seem long.”

    4 thoughts on “Quote of the day, 31 January: St. Teresa of Avila

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    1. “Always include on a small piece of paper a list of the things you want me to answer. Your letters are long—although they don’t seem so, because of the joy they give me; but if when in a hurry I have to read them all over in order to answer them, they do seem long.” And with that St. Teresa invents the bullet point list! I never knew! 😉

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