To Don Cristóbal Rodríguez de Moya, Segura de la Sierra
Avila, 28 June 1568
Our Lord has brought together in these houses persons who amaze me and leave me completely confounded, for those chosen must be persons of prayer, suited for our way of life. If they are not, we do not take them. God gives them ordinarily a joy and happiness so great that they seem to be in a paradise on earth.
This is a fact, as your honor can learn from many people, especially if any members of the Society of Jesus who have been here pass through. For they know me and have seen this.
They are my Fathers to whom, after our Lord, my soul owes every good it possesses, if it does possess any.
And one of the things that attracts me to those ladies and to serving you in every way I can, is that they have conversed with these Fathers. Not every spiritual person satisfies me as being suited for our monasteries, but those who have had these Fathers as confessors do.
Almost all those who are in our houses are their daughters—I don’t remember any that I have accepted who were not. They are the ones who suit us. For since these Fathers nurtured my soul, the Lord has granted me the favor of having their spirit planted in these monasteries.
And so, if you are familiar with their rules, you will see that in many things in our constitutions we are like them. For I received a brief from the pope to draw up constitutions, and when Our Most Reverend General came here, he approved them and gave orders that they be observed in all the monasteries founded by me.
And he ordered that the Fathers of the Society be preachers for the nuns and that no major superior could hinder them from doing so; and that if they wanted, they could be the nuns’ confessors. But the fact is that they have a rule forbidding this, and so, except on rare occasions, we cannot confess to them. Nonetheless, they frequently speak to us and give us counsel and do us much good.
I had the same desire that those ladies have, to submit the house to the direction of these Fathers, and I tried to do it.
I know for certain they will not accept a monastery, even were it the wish of the princess, for they would have to care for too many in the kingdom; so, it’s something impossible.
I praise God that like no other order we have a freedom to speak with them, a freedom that we are sure will never be taken from us….
Written in Avila in the monastery of St. Joseph, 28 June 1568.
Your honor’s unworthy servant,
Teresa of Jesus
Translator Father Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. notes: “Don Cristóbal, a wealthy widower, was trying to decide whether to found a Teresian Carmel or a Jesuit school. His two daughters and he wanted spiritual direction from the Jesuits. A Franciscan friend of Teresa’s interceded in favor of the Carmel. At this point, Teresa wrote the following letter, but in the end, Don Cristóbal decided in favor of the Jesuits. The authentic text of the letter is incomplete.”
The text that we present includes the first nine numbers of Letter 11, which “have undergone some decided tampering. Because some of the thought is still Teresa’s”, Fr. Rodriguez added these all-important paragraphs—long cherished by Jesuits and Teresian Carmelites alike—in an annotation to Letter 11.
The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O.C.D. ICS Publications Copyright © 1976 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, Inc.