Sunday, October 16, 2011

'Only God and Our Soul'

Yesterday was the feast of St. Teresa of Jesus, also known as Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church. She has always been one of my favorites, an infinitely sober and sensible person. From her Life:

There is another temptation, which is very common: when people begin to have pleasure in the rest and the fruit of prayer, they will have everybody else be very spiritual also. Now, to desire this is not wrong, but to try to bring it about may not be right, except with great discretion and with much reserve, without any appearance of teaching. He who would do any good in this matter ought to be endowed with solid virtues, that he may not put temptation in the way of others. It happened to me--that is how I know it--when, as I said before, I made others apply themselves to prayer, to be a source of temptation and disorder; for, on the one hand, they heard me say great things of the blessedness of prayer, and, on the other, saw how poor I was in virtue, notwithstanding my prayer. They had good reasons on their side, and afterwards they told me of it; for they knew not how these things could be compatible one with the other. This it was that made them not to regard that as evil which was really so in itself, namely, that they saw me do it myself, now and then, during the time that they thought well of me in some measure.

This is Satan's work: he seems to take advantage of the virtues we may have, for the purpose of giving a sanction, so far as he can, to the evil he aims at; how slight soever that evil may be, his gain must be great, if it prevail in a religious house. How much, then, must his gain have been, when the evil I did was so very great! And thus, during many years, only three persons were the better for what I said to them; but now that our Lord has made me stronger in virtue, in the course of two or three years many persons have profited, as I shall show hereafter.

There is another great inconvenience in addition to this: the loss to our own soul; for the utmost we have to do in the beginning is to take care of our own soul only, and consider that in the whole world there is only God and our soul. This is a point of great importance.

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