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´╗┐Title: Santa Teresa - an Appreciation: with some of the best passages of the Saint's Writings
Author: Whyte, Alexander, 1836-1921
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1900 Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org




Santa Teresa: an Appreciation

_With some of the best passages of the Saint's Writings Selected Adapted
and Arranged by_
_Alexander Whyte_

_Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier_
_Saint Mary Street_, _Edinburgh_, _and_
21 _Paternoster Square_, _London_

_Third Edition_
_Completing_ 6000 _copies_

Edinburgh: T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to her Majesty


With a view to the work of my classes this session, I took old Abraham
Woodhead's two black-letter quartos with me to the Engadine last July.
And I spent every rainy morning and every tired evening of that memorable
holiday month in the society of Santa Teresa and her excellent
old-English translator.  Till, ever, as I crossed the Morteratch and the
Roseg, and climbed the hills around Maloggia and Pontresina, a voice
would come after me, saying to me, Why should you not share all this
spiritual profit and intellectual delight with your Sabbath evening
congregations, and with your young men's and young women's classes?  Why
should you not introduce Santa Teresa to her daughters in Edinburgh?  For
her daughters they are, so soon and as long as they live in
self-knowledge and in self-denial, in humility and in meekness, and
especially in unceasing prayer for themselves and for others.  And I am
not without some assurance that in this present lecture I am both hearing
and obeying one of those same locutions that Teresa heard so frequently,
and obeyed with such instancy and fidelity and fruitfulness.

* * * * *

Luther was born in 1483, and he nailed his ninety-five theses to the door
of the University Church of Wittenberg on the 31st October 1517.  Loyola
was born in 1491, and Xavier in 1506, and the Society of Jesus was
established in 1534.  Isabella the Catholic was born in 1451, and our own
Protestant Elizabeth in 1533.  The Spanish Inquisition began to sit in
1483, the Breviary was finally settled in 1568, and the Armada was
destroyed in 1588.  Columbus was born in 1446, and he set out on his
great enterprise in 1492.  Cervantes was born in 1547, and the First Part
of his immortal work was published in 1605.  And it is to be read in
Santa Teresa's Breviary to this day that Teresa the Sinner was born on
the 29th day of March 1515, at five o'clock in the morning.  She died in
1582, and in 1622 she was publicly canonised at Rome along with Loyola
and Xavier and two other Spanish saints.

Teresa was greatly blessed in both her parents.  'It helped me much that
I never saw my father or my mother respect anything in any one but
goodness.'  Her father was a great reader of the best books, and he took
great pains that his children should form the same happy habit and should
carefully cultivate the same excellent taste.  Her mother, while a
Christian gentlewoman of the first social standing, did not share her
husband's love of serious literature.  She passed far too much of her
short lifetime among the romances of the day, till her daughter has to
confess that she took no little harm from the books that did her mother
no harm but pastime to read.  As for other things, her father's house was
a perfect model of the very best morals and the very best manners.  Alonso
de Cepeda was a well-born and a well-bred Spanish gentleman.  He came of
an ancient and an illustrious Castilian stock; and, though not a rich
man, his household enjoyed all the nobility of breeding and all the
culture of mind and all the refinement of taste for which Spain was so
famous in that great age.  All her days, and in all her ups and downs in
life, we continually trace back to Teresa's noble birth and noble
upbringing no little of her supreme stateliness of deportment and
serenity of manner and chivalry of character.  Teresa was a perfect
Spanish lady, as well as a mother in Israel, and no one who ever
conversed with her could for a moment fail to observe that the oldest and
best blood of Spain mantled in her cheek and shone in her eye.  A lion
encompassed by crosses was one of the quarters of her father's coat of
arms.  And Teresa took that up and added out of it a new glory to all her
father's hereditary honours.  For his daughter was all her days a lioness
palisaded round with crosses, till by means of them she was transformed
into a lamb.  But, all the time, the lioness was still lurking there.
Teresa's was one of those sovereign souls that are born from time to time
as if to show us what our race was created for at first, and for what it
is still destined.  She was a queen among women.  She was in intellect
the complete equal, and in still better things than intellect far the
superior, of Isabella and Elizabeth themselves.  As she says in an
outspoken autobiographic passage, hers was one of those outstanding and
towering souls on which a thousand eyes and tongues are continually set
without any one understanding them or comprehending them.  Her coming
greatness of soul is foreseen by some of her biographers in the attempt
which she made while yet a child to escape away into the country of the
Moors in search of an early martyrdom, so that she might see her Saviour
all the sooner, and stand in His presence all the purer.  'A woman,' says
Crashaw, 'for angelical height of speculation: for masculine courage of
performance, more than a woman; who, while yet a child, outran maturity,
and durst plot a martyrdom.

   Scarce had she learnt to lisp the name
   Of martyr, yet she thinks it shame
   Life should so long sport with that breath,
   Which, spent, can buy so brave a death.

   Scarce had she blood enough to make
   A guilty sword blush for her sake;
   Yet has she heart dares hope to prove
   How much less strong is death than love.

   Be love but there, let poor six years
   Be posed with the maturest fears
   Man trembles at, we straight shall find
   Love knows no nonage, nor the mind.'

Teresa's mother died just when her daughter was at that dangerous age in
which a young girl needs a wise mother most; 'the age when virtue should
begin to grow,' as she says herself.  Teresa was an extraordinarily
handsome and attractive young lady, and the knowledge of that, as she
tells us, made her very vain, and puffed up her heart with foolish
imaginations.  She has a powerful chapter in the opening of her
Autobiography on dangerous companionships in the days of youth.  'Oh that
all parents would take warning by me, and would look carefully into their
children's early friendships!'  She suffered terribly from bad health all
her days, and that severe chastisement began to fall on her while she was
yet a beautiful girl.  It was a succession of serious illnesses, taken
along with her father's scrupulous care over her, that brought Teresa
back to the simple piety of her early childhood, and fixed her for life
in an extraordinary devotion to God, and to all the things of God.  When
such a change of heart and character comes to a young woman among
ourselves, she usually seeks out some career of religion and charity to
which she can devote her life.  She is found labouring among the poor and
the sick and the children of the poor, or she goes abroad to foreign
mission work.  In Teresa's land and day a Religious House was the
understood and universal refuge for any young woman who was in earnest
about her duty to God and to her own soul.  In those Houses such young
women secluded themselves from all society and gave themselves up to the
care of the poor and the young.  In the more strict and enclosed of those
retreats the inmates never came out of doors at all, but wholly
sequestered themselves up to a secret life of austerity and prayer.  This
was the ideal life led in those Houses for religious women.  But Teresa
soon found out the tremendous mistake she had made in leaving her
father's family-fireside for a so-called Religious House.  No sooner had
she entered it than she was plunged headlong into those very same
'pestilent amusements,' the mere approach of which had made her flee to
this supposed asylum.  Though she is composing her Autobiography under
the sharp eyes of her confessors, and while she is writing with a
submissiveness and, indeed, a servility that is her only weakness, Teresa
at the same time is bold enough and honest enough to tell us her own
experiences of monastic life in language of startling strength and
outspokenness.  'A short-cut to hell.  If parents would take my advice,
they would rather marry their daughters to the very poorest of men, or
else keep them at home under their own eye.  If young women will be
wicked at home, their wickedness will not long be hidden at home; but in
monasteries, such as I speak of, their worst wickedness can be completely
covered up from every human eye.  And all the time the poor things are
not to blame.  They only walk in the way that is shown them.  Many of
them are to be much pitied, for they honestly wish to withdraw from the
world, only to find themselves in ten times worse worlds of sensuality
and all other devilry.  O my God! if I might I would fain speak of some
of the occasions of sin from which Thou didst deliver me, and how I threw
myself into them again.  And of the risks I ran of utterly shipwrecking
my character and good name and from which Thou didst rescue me.  O Lord
of my soul! how shall I be able to magnify Thy grace in those perilous
years!  At the very time that I was offending Thee most, Thou didst
prepare me by a most profound compunction to taste of the sweetness of
Thy recoveries and consolations.  In truth, O my King, Thou didst
administer to me the most spiritual and painful of chastisements: for
Thou didst chastise my sins with great assurances of Thy love and of Thy
great mercy.  It makes me feel beside myself when I call to mind Thy
great grace and my great ingratitude.'

This leads us up to the conception and commencement of that great work to
which Teresa dedicated the whole of her after life,--the reformation and
extension of the Religious Houses of Spain.  The root-and-branch
reformation of Luther and his German and Swiss colleagues had not laid
much hold on Spain; and the little hold it had laid on her native land
had never reached to Teresa.  Had Luther and Teresa but met: had
Melanchthon and Teresa but met: had the best books of the German and
Swiss Reformation but come into Teresa's hands: had she been somewhat
less submissive, and somewhat less obedient, and somewhat less completely
the slave of her ecclesiastical superiors; had she but once entered into
that intellectual and spiritual liberty wherewith Christ makes His people
free,--what a lasting blessing Teresa might have been made to her native
land!  But, as it was, Teresa's reformation, while it was the salvation
of herself and of multitudes more who came under it, yet as a monastic
experiment and a church movement, it ended in the strengthening and the
perpetuation of that detestable system of intellectual and spiritual
tyranny which has been the death of Spain from that day to this.  Teresa
performed a splendid service inside the Church to which she belonged: but
that service was wholly confined to the Religious Houses that she founded
and reformed.  Teresa's was intended to be a kind of counter-reformation
to the reformation of Luther and Melanchthon and Valdes and Valera.  And
such was the talent and the faith and the energy she brought to bear on
the work she undertook, that, had it been better directed, it might have
been blessed to preserve her beloved native land at the head of modern
Christendom.  But, while that was not to be, it is the immense talent,
and the unceasing toil, and the splendid faith and self-surrender that
Teresa brought to bear on her intramural reformation; and, all through
that, on the working out of her own salvation,--it is all these things
that go to make Teresa's long life so memorable and so impressive, not
only in her own age and land and church, but wherever greatness of mind,
and nobleness of heart, and sanctity of life, and stateliness of
character are heard of and are esteemed.

Teresa's intellect, her sheer power of mind, is enough of itself to make
her an intensely interesting study to all thinking men.  No one can open
her books without confessing the spell of her powerful understanding.  Her
books, before they were books, absolutely captivated and completely
converted to her unpopular cause many of her most determined enemies.
Again and again and again we find her confessors and her censors
admitting that both her spiritual experiences and her reformation work
were utterly distasteful and very stumbling to them till they had read
her own written account, first of her life of prayer and then of her
reformation work.  One after another of such men, and some of them the
highest in learning and rank and godliness, on reading her autobiographic
papers, came over to be her fearless defenders and fast friends.  There
is nothing more delightful in all her delightful Autobiography, and in
the fine 'censures' that have been preserved concerning it, than to read
of the great and learned theologians, the responsible church leaders, and
even the secret inquisitors who came under the charm of her character and
the spell of her pen.  'She electrifies the will,' confessed one of the
best judges of good writing in her day.  And old Bishop Palafox's tribute
to Teresa is far too beautiful to be withheld.  'What I admire in her is
the peace, the sweetness, and the consolation with which in her writings
she draws us toward the best, so that we find ourselves captured rather
than conquered, imprisoned rather than prisoners.  No one reads the
saint's writings who does not presently seek God, and no one through her
writings seeks God who does not remain in love with the saint.  I have
not met with a single spiritual man who does not become a passionate
admirer of Santa Teresa.  But her writings do not alone impart a
rational, interior, and superior love, but a love at the same time
practical, natural, and sensitive; and my own experience proves it to me
that there exists no one who loves her but would, if the saint were still
in this world, travel far to see and speak with her.'  I wish much I
could add to that Peter of Alcantara's marvellous analysis of Teresa's
experiences and character.  Under thirty-three heads that great saint
sums up Teresa's character, and gives us a noble, because all
unconscious, revelation of his own.  And though Teresa has been dead for
three hundred years, she speaks to this day in that same way: and that
too in quarters in which we would little expect to hear her voice.  In
that intensely interesting novel of modern Parisian life, _En Route_,
Teresa takes a chief part in the conversion and sanctification of the
prodigal son whose return to his father's house is so powerfully depicted
in that story.  The deeply read and eloquent author of that remarkable
book gives us some of the best estimates and descriptions of Santa Teresa
that I have anywhere met with.  'That cool-headed business woman . . .
that admirable psychologist and of superhuman lucidity . . . that
magnificent and over-awing saint . . . she has verified in her own case
the supernatural experiences of the greatest mystics,--such are her
unparalleled experiences in the supernatural domain. . . .  Teresa goes
deeper than any like writer into the unexplored regions of the soul.  She
is the geographer and hydrographer of the sinful soul.  She has drawn the
map of its poles, marked its latitudes of contemplation and prayer, and
laid out all the interior seas and lands of the human heart.  Other
saints have been among those heights and depths and deserts before her,
but no one has left us so methodical and so scientific a survey.'  Were
it for nothing else, the chapters on mystical literature in M. Huysmans'
unfinished trilogy would make it a valued possession to every student of
the soul of man under sin and under salvation.  I await the completion of
his Pilgrim's Progress with great impatience and with great expectation.

And then, absolutely possessed as Teresa always is by the most solemn
subjects,--herself, her sin, her Saviour, her original method of prayer
and her unshared experiences in prayer,--she showers upon us continually
gleams and glances of the sunniest merriment, amid all her sighs and
tears.  She roasts in caustic the gross-minded, and the self-satisfied,
and the self-righteous, as Socrates himself never roasted them better.
Again, like his, her irony and her raillery and her satire are sometimes
so delicate that it quite eludes you for the first two or three readings
of the exquisite page.  And then, when you turn the leaf, she is as
ostentatiously stupid and ignorant and dependent on your superior mind as
ever Socrates himself was.  Till I shrewdly suspect that no little of
that 'obedience' which so intoxicated and fascinated her inquisitors, and
which to this day so exasperates some of her biographers, was largely
economical and ironical.  Her narrow cell is reported to have often
resounded with peals of laughter to the scandal of some of her sisters.
In support of all that, I have marked a score of Socratic passages in
Woodhead, and Dalton, and Lewis, and Father Coleridge, and Mrs.
Cunninghame Graham.  They are very delicious passages and very tempting.
But were they once begun there would be no end to them.  You will believe
Froude, for he is an admitted judge in all matters connected with the
best literature, and he says in his _Quarterly_ article on Teresa's
writings, 'The best satire of Cervantes is not more dainty.'

The great work to which Teresa gave up her whole life, after her full
conversion, was the purification of the existing monastic system, and the
multiplication and extension of Religious Houses of the strictest,
severest, most secluded, most prayerful, and most saintly life.  She had
been told by those she too much trusted, that the Church of Christ was
being torn in pieces in Germany, and in Switzerland, and in France, and
in England by a great outbreak of heretical error; and, while the Society
of Jesus and the Secret Inquisition were established to cope with all
such heresy, Teresa set herself to counteract it by a widespread
combination of unceasing penance and intercessory prayer.  It was a zeal
without knowledge; but there can be no doubt about the sincerity, the
single-mindedness, and the strength of the zeal.  For forty as
hard-working years as ever any woman spent in this world, Teresa laboured
according to her best light to preserve the purity and the unity of the
Church of Christ.  And the strength and the sagacity of mind, the tact,
the business talents, the tenacity of will, the patience, the endurance,
the perseverance, the sleepless watchfulness, and the abounding
prayerfulness that she brought to bear on the reformation and
multiplication of her fortresses of defence and attack in that holy war,
all taken together, make up one of the most remarkable pages in the whole
history of the Church of Christ.  Her difficulties with Rome, with the
Inquisition, with her more immediate superiors, confessors, and censors,
and, most of all, with the ignorance, the stupidity, the laziness, the
malice, and the lies of those monks and nuns whose reformation she was
determined on: her endless journeys: her negotiations with
church-leaders, landowners, and tradesmen in selecting and securing
sites, and in erecting new religious houses: the adventures, the
accidents, the entertainments she met with: and the fine temper, the good
humour, the fascinating character, the winning manners she everywhere
exhibited; and, withal, her incomparable faith in the Living God, and the
exquisite inwardness, unconquerable assurance, and abounding fruitfulness
of her own and unshared method and secret of prayer,--had Teresa not
lived and died in Spain, and had she not spent her life and done her work
under the Roman obedience, her name would have been a household word in
Scotland.  As it is, she is not wholly unknown or unloved.  And as
knowledge extends, and love, and good-will; and as suspicion, and fear,
and retaliation, and party-spirit die out among us, the truth about
Teresa and multitudes more will become established on clearer and deeper
and broader foundations; and we shall be able to hail both her and
multitudes more like her as our brothers and sisters in Christ, whom
hitherto we have hated and despised because we did not know them, and had
been poisoned against them.  I am a conspicuous case in point myself.  And
when I have been conquered by a little desultory reading and by a little
effort after love no man need despair.  And if you will listen to this
lecture with a good and honest heart: with a heart that delights to hear
all this good report about a fellow-believer: then He who has begun that
good work in you will perfect it by books and by lectures like this, and
far better than this, till you are taken absolutely captive to that
charity which rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth: and
which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,
endureth all things.  Follow after charity, and begin with Santa Teresa.

   Forbid it, mighty Love, let no fond hate
   Of names or words so far prejudicate;
   Souls are not Spaniards too; one friendly flood
   Of baptism blends them all into one blood.
   What soul soe'er in any language can
   Speak heaven like hers, is my soul's countryman.

But the greatest and the best talent that God gives to any man or woman
in this world is the talent of prayer.  And the best usury that any man
or woman brings back to God when He comes to reckon with them at the end
of this world is a life of prayer.  And those servants best put their
Lord's money to the exchangers who rise early and sit late, as long as
they are in this world, ever finding out and ever following after better
and better methods of prayer, and ever forming more secret, more
steadfast, and more spiritually fruitful habits of prayer: till they
literally pray without ceasing, and till they continually strike out into
new enterprises in prayer, and new achievements, and new enrichments.  It
was this that first drew me to Teresa.  It was her singular originality
in prayer and her complete captivity to prayer.  It was the time she
spent in prayer, and the refuge, and the peace, and the sanctification,
and the power for carrying on hard and unrequited work that she all her
life found in prayer.  It was her fidelity and her utter surrender of
herself to this first and last of all her religious duties, till it
became more a delight, and, indeed, more an indulgence, than a duty.  With
Teresa it was prayer first, and prayer last, and prayer always.  With
Teresa literally all things were sanctified, and sweetened, and made
fruitful by prayer.  In Teresa's writings prayer holds much the same
place that it holds in the best men and women of Holy Scripture.  If I
were to say that about some of the ladies of the Scottish Covenant, you
would easily believe me.  But you must believe me when I tell you that
about a Spanish lady, second to none of them in holiness of life, even if
her holy life is not all cast in our mould.  All who have read the
autobiographic _Apologia_ will remember the fine passage in which its
author tells us that ever since his conversion there have been two, and
only two, absolutely self-luminous beings in the whole universe of being
to him,--God and his own soul.  Now, I do not remember that Newman even
once speaks about Teresa in any of his books, but I always think of him
and her together in this great respect.  GOD is to them both, and to them
both He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  And it is just
here, at the very commencement and centre of divine things, that we all
make such shipwreck and come so short.  The sense of the reality of
divine and unseen things in Teresa's life of prayer is simply miraculous
in a woman still living among things seen and temporal.  Her faith is
truly the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not
seen.  Our Lord was as real, as present, as near, as visible, and as
affable to this extraordinary saint as ever He was to Martha, or Mary, or
Mary Magdalene, or the woman of Samaria, or the mother of Zebedee's
children.  She prepared Him where to lay His head; she sat at His feet
and heard His word.  She chose the better part, and He acknowledged to
herself and to others that she had done so.  She washed His feet with her
tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head.  She had been forgiven
much, and she loved much.  He said to her, Mary, and she answered Him,
Rabboni.  And He gave her messages to deliver to His disciples, who had
not waited for Him as she had waited.  Till she was able to say to them
all that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken such and such
things within her.  And hence arises what I may call the quite
extraordinary purity and spirituality of her life of prayer.  'Defecate'
is Goodwin's favourite and constant word for the purest, the most rapt,
the most adoring, and the most spiritual prayer.  'I have known men'--it
must have been himself--'who came to God for nothing else but just to
come to Him, they so loved Him.  They scorned to soil Him and themselves
with any other errand than just purely to be alone with Him in His
presence.  Friendship is best kept up, even among men, by frequent
visits; and the more free and defecate those frequent visits are, and the
less occasioned by business, or necessity, or custom they are, the more
friendly and welcome they are.'  Now, I have sometimes wondered what took
Teresa so often, and kept her so long, alone with God.  Till I remembered
Goodwin's classical passages about defecated prayer, and understood
something of what is involved and what is to be experienced in pure and
immediate communion with God.  And, then, from all that it surely
follows, that no one is fit for one moment to have an adverse or a
hostile mind, or to pass an adverse or a hostile judgment, on the divine
manifestations that came to Teresa in her unparalleled life of prayer; no
one who is not a man of like prayer himself; no, nor even then.  I know
all the explanations that have been put forward for Teresa's 'locutions'
and revelations; but after anxiously weighing them all, the simplest
explanation is also the most scientific, as it is the most scriptural.  If
our ascending Lord actually said what He is reported to have said about
the way that He and His Father will always reward all love to Him, and
the keeping of all His commandments; then, if there is anything true
about Teresa at all, it is this, that from the day of her full conversion
she lived with all her might that very life which has all these
transcendent promises spoken and sealed to it.  By her life of faith and
prayer and personal holiness, Teresa made herself 'capable of God,' as
one describes it, and God came to her and filled her with Himself to her
utmost capacity, as He said He would.  At the same time, much as I trust
and honour and love Teresa, and much good as she has been made of God to
me, she was still, at her best, but an imperfectly sanctified woman, and
her rewards and experiences were correspondingly imperfect.  But if a
holy life before such manifestations were made to her, and a still holier
life after them--if that is any test of the truth and reality of such
transcendent and supernatural matters,--on her own humble and adoring
testimony, and on the now extorted and now spontaneous testimony of
absolutely all who lived near her, still more humility, meekness, lowly-
mindedness, heavenly-mindedness and prayerfulness demonstrably followed
those inward and spiritual revelations to her of her Lord.  In short and
in sure, ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of
thorns, or figs of thistles?  On the whole, then, I for one am strongly
disposed toward Teresa, even in the much-inculpated matter of her inward
voices and visions.  The wish may very possibly be father to the thought:
but my thought leans to Teresa, even in her most astounding locutions and
revelations; they answer so entirely to my reading of our Lord and of His
words.  I take sides, on the whole, with those theologians of her day,
who began by doubting, but ended by believing in Teresa and by imitating
her.  They were led to rejoice that any contemporary and fellow-sinner
had attained to such fellowship with God: and I am constrained to take
sides with them.  'One day, in prayer, the sweetness was so great that I
could not but contrast it with the place I deserved in hell.  The
sweetness and the light and the peace were so great that, compared with
it, everything in this world is vanity and lies.  I was filled with a new
reverence for God.  I saw His majesty and His power in a way I cannot
describe, and the vision kept me in great tenderness and joy and
humility.  I cannot help making much of that which led me so near to God.
I knew at that great moment what it is for a soul to be in the very
presence of God Himself.  What must be the condescension of His majesty
seeing that in so short a time He left so great an impression and so
great a blessing on my soul!  O my Lord, consider who she is upon whom
Thou art bestowing such unheard-of blessings!  Dost Thou forget that my
soul has been an abyss of sin?  How is this, O Lord, how can it be that
such great grace has come to the lot of one who has so ill deserved such
things at Thy hands!'  He who can read that, and a hundred passages as
good as that, and who shall straightway set himself to sneer and scoff
and disparage and find fault, he is well on the way to the sin against
the Holy Ghost.  At any rate, I would be if I did not revere and love and
imitate such a saint of God.  Given God and His Son and His Holy Spirit:
given sin and salvation and prayer and a holy life; and, with many
drawbacks, Teresa's was just the life of self-denial and repentance and
prayer and communion with God that we should all live.  It is not Teresa
who is to be bemoaned and blamed and called bad names.  It is we who do
all that to her who are beside ourselves.  It is we who need the beam to
be taken out of our own eye.  Teresa was a mystery and an offence; and,
again, an encouragement and an example to the theologians and the
inquisitors of her day just as she still is in our day.  She was a
stumbling-stone, or an ensample, according to the temper and disposition
and character of her contemporaries, and she is the same to-day.

The pressing question with me is not the truth or the falsehood, the
amount of reality or the amount of imagination in Teresa's locutions and
visions.  The pressing question with me is this,--Why it is that I have
nothing to show to myself at all like them.  I think I could die for the
truth of my Lord's promise that both He and His Father will manifest
Themselves to those who love Him and keep His words; but He never
manifests Himself, to be called manifestation, to me.  I am driven in
sheer desperation to believe such testimonies and attainments as those of
Teresa, if only to support my failing faith in the words of my Master.  I
had rather believe every syllable of Teresa's so-staggering locutions and
visions than be left to this, that ever since Paul and John went home to
heaven our Lord's greatest promises have been so many idle words.  It is
open to any man to scoff and sneer at Teresa's extraordinary life of
prayer, and at the manifestations of the Father and the Son that were
made to her in her life of prayer, and some of her biographers and
censors among ourselves have made good use of their opportunity.  But I
cannot any longer sit with them in the seat of the scorner, and I want
you all to rise up and leave that evil seat also.  Lord, how wilt Thou
manifest Thyself in time to come to me?  How shall I attain to that faith
and to that love and to that obedience which shall secure to me the long-
withheld presence and indwelling of the Father and the Son?

* * * * *

Teresa's _Autobiography_, properly speaking, is not an autobiography at
all, though it ranks with _The Confessions_, and _The Commedia_, and _The
Grace Abounding_, and _The Reliquiae_, as one of the very best of that
great kind of book.  It is not really Teresa's _Life Written by Herself_,
though all that stands on its title-page.  It is only one part of her
life: it is only her life of prayer.  The title of the book, she says in
one place, is not her life at all, but _The Mercies of God_.  Many other
matters come up incidentally in this delightful book, but the whole drift
and the real burden of the book is its author's life of prayer.  Her
attainments and her experiences in prayer so baffled and so put out all
her confessors that, at their wits' end, they enjoined her to draw out in
writing a complete account of a secret life, the occasional and partial
discovery of which so amazed, and perplexed, and condemned them.  And
thus it is that we come to possess this unique and incomparable
autobiography: this wonderful revelation of Teresa's soul in prayer.  It
is a book in which we see a woman of sovereign intellectual ability
working out her own salvation in circumstances so different from our own
that we have the greatest difficulty in believing that it was really
salvation at all she was so working out.  Till, as we read in humility
and in love, we learn to separate-off all that is local, and secular, and
ecclesiastical, and circumstantial, and then we immensely enjoy and take
lasting profit out of all that which is so truly Catholic and so truly
spiritual.  Teresa was an extraordinary woman in every way: and that
comes out on every page of her Autobiography.  So extraordinary that I
confess there is a great deal that she tells us about herself that I do
not at all understand.  She was Spanish, and we are Scottish.  She and we
are wide as the poles asunder.  Her lot was cast of God in the sixteenth
century, whereas our lot is cast in the nineteenth.  She was a Roman
Catholic mystic, and we are Evangelical Protestants.  But it is one of
the great rewards of studying such a life as Teresa's to be able to
change places with her so as to understand her and love her.  She was,
without any doubt or contradiction, a great saint of God.  And a great
saint of God is more worthy of our study and admiration and imitation and
love than any other study or admiration or imitation or love on the face
of the earth.  And the further away such a saint is from us the better
she is for our study and admiration and imitation and love, if we only
have the sense and the grace to see it.

Cervantes himself might have written Teresa's _Book of the Foundations_.
Certainly he never wrote a better book.  For myself I have read Teresa's
_Foundations_ twice at any rate for every once I have read Cervantes'
masterpiece.  For literature, for humour, for wit, for nature, for
photographic pictures of the time and the people, her _Foundations_ are a
masterpiece also: and then, Teresa's pictures are pictures of the best
people in Spain.  And there was no finer people in the whole of
Christendom in that day than the best of the Spanish people.  God had
much people in the Spain of that day, and he who is not glad to hear that
will never have a place among them.  The Spain of that century was full
of family life of the most polished and refined kind.  And, with all
their declensions and corruptions, the Religious Houses of Spain enclosed
multitudes of the most saintly men and women.  'I never read of a
hermit,' said Dr. Johnson to Boswell in St. Andrews, 'but in imagination
I kiss his feet: I never read of a monastery, but I could fall on my
knees and kiss the pavement.  I have thought of retiring myself, and have
talked of it to a friend, but I find my vocation is rather in active
life.'  It was such monasteries as Teresa founded and ruled and wrote the
history of that made such a sturdy Protestant as Dr. Johnson was say such
a thing as that.  _The Book of the Foundations_ is Teresa's own account,
written also under superior orders, of that great group of religious
houses which she founded and administered for so many years.  And the
literature into which she puts all those years is literature of the first
water.  A thousand times I have been reminded of Don Quixote and Sancho
Panza as I read Teresa's account of her journeys, and of the people, and
of the escapades, and of the entertainments she met with.  Yes, quite as
good as Cervantes! yes, quite as good as Goldsmith!--I have caught myself
exclaiming as I read and laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks.  This
is literature, this is art without the art, this is literary finish
without the labour: and all laid out to the finest of all uses, to tell
of the work of God, and of all the enterprises, providences, defeats,
successes, recompenses, connected with it.  The _Foundations_ is a
Christian classic even in Woodhead's and Dalton's and David Lewis's
English, what must it then be to those to whom Teresa's exquisite Spanish
is their mother-tongue!

If Vaughan had but read _The Foundations_, which he is honest enough to
confess he had only glanced at in a French translation, it would surely
have done something to make him reconsider the indecent and disgraceful
attack which he makes on Teresa.  His chapter on Teresa is a contemptuous
and a malicious caricature.  Vaughan has often been of great service to
me, but if I had gone by that misleading chapter, I would have lost weeks
of most intensely interesting and spiritually profitable reading.
Vaughan's extravagant misrepresentation of Teresa will henceforth make me
hesitate to receive his other judgments till I have read the books
myself.  I shall not tarry here to controvert Vaughan's utterly
untruthful chapter on Teresa, I shall content myself with setting over
against it Crashaw's exquisite _Hymn_ and _Apology_, and especially his
magnificent _Flaming Heart_.

Teresa's _Way of Perfection_ is a truly fine book: full of freshness,
suggestiveness, and power.  So much so, that I question if William Law's
_Christian Perfection_ would ever have been written, but that Teresa had
written on that same subject before him.  I do not say that Law
plagiarised from Teresa, but some of his very best passages are plainly
inspired by his great predecessor.  You will thank me for the following
eloquent passage from Mrs. Cunninghame Graham, which so felicitously
characterises this great book, and that in language such as I could not
command.  'To my thinking Teresa is at her best in her _Way of
Perfection_ with its bursts of impassioned eloquence; its shrewd and
caustic irony; its acute and penetrating knowledge of human character,
the same in the convent as in the world; above all in its sympathetic and
tender instinct for the needs and difficulties of her daughters.  _The
Perfection_ represents the finished and magnificent fabric of the
spiritual life.  Her words ring with a strange terseness and earnestness
as she here pens her spiritual testament.  She points out the mischievous
foibles, the little meannesses, the spirit of cantankerousness and
strife, which long experience of the cloister had shown her were the
besetting sins of the conventual life.  She places before them the
loftier standard of the Cross.  Her words, direct and simple, ring out
true and clear, producing somewhat the solemn effect of a Commination
Service.'  Strong as that estimate is, _The Perfection_ deserves every
word of it and more.

Teresa thought that her _Mansions_ was one of her two best books, but she
was surely far wrong in that.  _The Mansions_, sometimes called _The
Interior Castle_, to me at any rate, is a most shapeless, monotonous, and
wearisome book.  Teresa had a splendid imagination, but her imagination
had not the architectonic and dramatic quality that is necessary for
carrying out such a conception as that is which she has laid in the
ground-plan of this book.  No one who has ever read _The Purgatorio_ or
_The Holy War_ could have patience with the shapeless and inconsequent
_Mansions_.  There is nothing that is new in the matter of the
_Mansions_; there is nothing that is not found in a far better shape in
some of her other books; and one is continually wearied out by her utter
inability to handle the imagery which she will not let alone.  At the
same time, the persevering reader will come continually on characteristic
things that are never to be forgotten as he climbs with Teresa from
strength to strength on her way to her Father's House.

To my mind Teresa is at her very best, not in her _Mansions_ which she
made so much of, but in her _Letters_ which she made nothing of.  I think
I prefer her _Letters_ to all her other books.  A great service was done
to this fine field of literature when Teresa's letters were collected and
published.  What Augustine's editor has so well said about Augustine's
letters I would borrow and would apply to Teresa's letters.  All her
other works receive fresh light from her letters.  The subjects of her
more elaborate writings are all handled in her letters in a far easier, a
far more natural, and a far more attractive manner.  It is in her letters
that we first see the size and the strength and the sweep of her mind,
and discover the deserved deference that is paid to her on all hands.
Burdened churchmen, inquiring students in the spiritual life, perplexed
confessors, angry and remonstrating monks, husbands and wives, matrons
and maidens, all find their way to Mother Teresa.  Great bundles of
letters are delivered at the door of her cell every day, and she works at
her answers to those letters till a bird begins to flutter in the top of
her head, after which her physician will not suffer her to write more
than twelve letters at a downsitting.  And what letters they are, all
sealed with the name of JESUS--she will seal now with no other seal.  What
letters of a strong and sound mind go out under that seal!  What a
business head!  What shrewdness, sagacity, insight, frankness, boldness,
archness, raillery, downright fun!  And all as full of splendid sense as
an egg is full of meat.  If Andrew Bonar had only read Spanish, and had
edited Teresa's _Letters_ as he has edited Rutherford's, we would have
had that treasure in all our houses.  As it is, Father Coleridge long ago
fell on the happy idea of compiling a _Life of Teresa_ out of her extant
letters, and he has at last carried out his idea, if not in all its
original fulness, yet in a very admirable and praiseworthy way.  But I
would like to know how many of the boasted literary and religious people
of Edinburgh have bought and read Father Coleridge's delightful book.  A
hundred?  Ten?  Five?  I doubt it.  Or how many have so much as borrowed
from the circulating library Mrs. Cunninghame Graham's first-rate book?
Of Teresa's _Letters_, that greatest living authority on Teresa
says--'That long series of epistolary correspondence, so enchanting in
the original.  It is in her letters that Teresa is at her best.  They
reveal all her shrewdness about business and money matters; her talent
for administration; her intense interest in life, and in all that is
passing around her.  Her letters show Teresa as the Castilian gentlewoman
who not only treats on terms of perfect equality with people of the
highest rank in the kingdom, but is in the greatest request by them.  Her
letters, of which probably only a tithe remains, show us how marvellously
the horizon of her life had expanded, and how rapidly her fame had grown.
Perhaps no more finished specimen of epistolary correspondence has ever
been penned than those letters, written in the press of multifarious
occupations, and often late at night when the rest of the convent was

Her confessor, who commanded Teresa to throw her _Commentary on the Song
of Solomon_ into the fire, was a sensible man and a true friend to her
reputation, and the nun who snatched a few leaves out of the fire did
Teresa's fame no service.  Judging of the whole by the part preserved to
us, there must have been many things scattered up and down the destroyed
book well worthy of her best pen.  The 'instance of self-esteem' which
Teresa so delightfully narrates is well worth all the burnt fingers its
preservation had cost the devoted sister: and up and down the charred
leaves there are passages on conduct and character, on obedience and
humility and prayer, that Teresa alone could have written.  All the same,
as a whole, her _Commentary on the Song_ is better in the fire.

Her _Seven Meditations on the Lord's Prayer_ ran no danger of the
censor's fire.  I have had occasion to read all the best expositions of
the Lord's Prayer in our language, and I am bound to say that for
originality and striking suggestiveness Teresa's _Seven Meditations_
stands alone.  After I had written that extravagant sentence I went back
and read her little book over again, so sure was I that I must have
overpraised it, and that I would not be believed in what I have said
concerning it.  But after another reading of the _Meditations_ I am
emboldened to let the strong praise stand in all its original strength.  I
have passages marked in abundance to prove to demonstration the estimate
I have formed of this beautiful book, but I must forego myself the
pleasure and the pride of quoting them.

Sixteen Augustinian _Exclamations after having Communicated_: sixty-nine
_Advices to Her Daughters_, and a small collection of love-enflamed
_Hymns_, complete what remains to us of Teresa's writings.

Teresa died of hard work and worry and shameful neglect, almost to sheer
starvation.  But she had meat to eat that all Anne Bartholomew's
remaining mites could not buy for her dying mother.  And, strong in the
strength of that spiritual meat, Teresa rose off her deathbed to finish
her work.  She inspected with all her wonted quickness of eye and love of
order the whole of the House into which she had been carried to die.  She
saw everything put into its proper place, and every one answering to
their proper order, after which she attended the divine offices for the
day, and then went back to her bed and summoned her daughters around her.
'My children,' she said, 'you must pardon me much; you must pardon me
most of all the bad example I have given you.  Do not imitate me.  Do not
live as I have lived.  I have been the greatest sinner in all the world.
I have not kept the laws I made for others.  I beseech you, my daughters,
for the love of God, to keep the rules of your Holy Houses as I have
never kept them.  O my Lord,' she then turned to Him and said, 'the hour
I have so much longed for has surely come at last.  The time has surely
come that we shall see one another.  My Lord and Saviour, it is surely
time for me to be taken out of this banishment and be for ever with Thee.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart,
O God, Thou wilt not despise.  Cast me not away from Thy presence, and
take not Thy Holy Spirit away from me.  Create in me a clean heart, O
God.'  'A broken and a contrite heart; a broken and a contrite heart,'
was her continual cry till she died with these words on her lips, 'A
broken and a contrite heart Thou wilt not despise.'  And, thus, with the
most penitential of David's penitential Psalms in her mouth, and with the
holy candle of her Church in her hand, Teresa of Jesus went forth from
her banishment to meet her Bridegroom.

   O sweet incendiary! shew here thy art
   Upon this carcass of a cold hard heart;
   Let all thy scatter'd shafts of light that play
   Among the leaves of thy large books of day,
   Combined against this breast at once break in
   And take away from me myself and sin;
   This gracious robbery shall thy bounty be,
   And thy best fortune such fair spoils of me.
   O thou undaunted daughter of desires!
   By all thy dower of lights and fires;
   By all the eagle in thee, all the dove;
   By all thy lives and deaths of love;
   By thy large draughts of intellectual day;
   And all thy thirsts of love more large than they;
   By all thy brim-filled bowls of fierce desire;
   By thy last morning's draught of liquid fire;
   By the full kingdom of that final kiss
   That seized thy parting soul, and sealed thee His;
   By all the Heavens thou hast in Him,
   (Fair sister of the Seraphim!);
   By all of Him we have in thee;--
   Leave nothing of myself in me.
   Let me so read thy life, that I
   Unto all life of mine may die.


* _The translations in the following pages are mainly those of Woodhead
and Lewis_.


I had a father and a mother who both feared God.  My father had his chief
delight in the reading of good books, and he did his best to give his
children the same happy taste.  This also helped me much, that I never
saw my father or my mother regard anything but goodness.  Though
possessing very great beauty in her youth, my mother was never known to
set any store by it.  Her apparel, even in her early married life, was
that of a woman no longer young.  Her life was a life of suffering, her
death was most Christian.  After my mother's removal, I began to think
too much about my dress and my appearance, and I pursued many such like
things that I was never properly warned against, full of mischief though
they were both to myself and to others.  I too early learned every evil
from an immoral relative.  I was very fond of this woman's company.  I
gossiped and talked with her continually.  She assisted me to all the
amusements I loved; and, what was worse, she found some very evil
amusements for me, and in every way communicated to me her own vanities
and mischiefs.  I am amazed to think on the evil that one bad companion
can do; nor could I have believed it, unless I had known it by
experience.  The company and the conversation of this one woman so
changed me that scarcely any trace was left in me of my natural
disposition to virtue.  I became a perfect reflection of her and of
another who was as bad as she was.

For my education and protection my father sent me to the Augustinian
Monastery, in which children like myself were brought up.  There was a
good woman in that religious house, and I began gradually to love her.
How impressively she used to speak to me of God!  She was a woman of the
greatest good sense and sanctity.  She told me how she first came to
herself by the mere reading of these words of the Gospel, 'Many are
called and few chosen.'  This good companionship began to root out the
bad habits I had brought to that house with me; but my heart had by that
time become so hard that I never shed a tear, no, not though I read the
whole Passion through.  When at last I entered the Religious House of the
Incarnation for life, our Lord at once made me understand how He helps
those who do any violence to themselves in order to serve Him.  No one
observed this violence in me.  They saw nothing in me but the greatest
goodwill.  At that sore step I was filled with a joy so great that it has
never wholly left me to this day.  God converted the dryness of my soul
into the greatest tenderness, immediately on my taking up that cross.
Everything in religion was now a real delight to me.  I had more pleasure
now in sweeping the house than I had in all the balls and dances I had
forsaken for His sake.  Whenever I remember those early days, it makes me
ready to take up any cross whatsoever.  For I know now by a long and a
various experience that His Majesty richly rewards even in this life all
the self-denial that we do for His sake and service.  I know this by many
experiences; and if I were a person who had to advise and guide God's
people, I would urge them to fear no difficulty whatsoever in the path of
duty: for our God is omnipotent, and He is on our side.  May He be
blessed for ever!  Amen.

O my supreme Good and my true Rest, I know not how to go on when I call
those happy days to mind, and think of all my evil life since then!  My
tears ought to be tears of blood.  My heart ought to break.  But Thou,
Lord, hast borne with me for almost twenty years, till I have had time to
improve.  And all that it might be better known to me who Thou art and
what I am.  Woe is me, my Maker!  I have no excuse, I have only blame.
Let Thy mercy, O Lord, rest on me.  Other women there have been who have
done great deeds in Thy service, but I am good only to talk: all my
goodness ends in so many words: that is all my service of Thee, my God.
Cost me what it may, let me not go on coming to Thee with idle words and
empty hands, seeing that the reward of every one will be according to his
works.  Depart not from me, and I can do all things.  Depart from me, and
I shall return to whence I was taken, even to hell.

One of the reasons that move me, who am what I am, to write all this even
under obedience, and to give an account of my wretched life, and of the
graces the Lord hath wrought in me is this,--and would that I were a
person of authority, and then people would perhaps believe what I say.
This then is what I would say and repeat continually if any one would
hear me.  Let no one ever say: If I fall into sin, I cannot then pray.  In
this the devil turned his most dreadful batteries against me.  He said to
me that it showed very little shame in me if I could have the face to
pray, who had just been so wicked.  And under that snare of Satan I
actually as good as gave up all prayer for a year and a half.  This was
nothing else but to throw myself straight down into hell.  O my God, was
there ever such madness as mine!  Where could I think to find either
pardon for the past, or power for the time to come, but from Thee?  What
folly to the stumbler to run away from the light!  Let all those who
would give themselves to prayer, and to a holy life, look well to this.
They should know that when I was shunning prayer because I was so bad, my
badness became more abandoned than ever it had been before.  Rely on the
waiting and abounding goodness of God, which is infinitely greater than
all the evil you can do.  When we acknowledge our vileness, He remembers
it no more.  I grew weary of sinning before God grew weary of forgiving
my sin.  He is never weary of giving grace, nor are his compassions to be
exhausted.  May He be blessed for ever, amen: and may all created things
praise Him!

I have made a vow--[it is known as 'the Teresian vow,' 'the seraphic
vow,' 'the most arduous of vows,' 'a vow yet unexampled in the Church'],
a vow never to offend God in the very least matter.  I have vowed that I
would rather die a thousand deaths than do anything of that kind, knowing
I was doing it.  I am resolved also, never to leave anything whatsoever
undone that I consider to be still more perfect, and more for the honour
of our Lord.  Cost me what pain it may, I would not leave such an act
undone for all the treasures of the world.  If I were to do so, I do not
think I could have the face to ask anything of God in prayer: and yet,
for all that, I have many faults and imperfections remaining in me to
this day.


On one occasion when I was in prayer I had a vision in which I saw how
all things are seen in God.  I cannot explain what I saw, but what I saw
remains to this day deeply imprinted on my soul.  It was a great act of
grace in God to give me that vision.  It puts me to unspeakable
confusion, shame, and horror whenever I recall that magnificent sight,
and then think of my sin.  I believe that had the Lord been pleased to
send me that great revelation of Himself earlier in my life, it would
have kept me back from much sin.  The vision was so delicate, so subtle,
and so spiritual, that my hard understanding cannot, at this distance of
time, close with it; but, to make use of an illustration, it was
something like this.  Suppose the Godhead to be a vast globe of light, a
globe larger than the whole world, and that all our actions are seen in
that all-embracing globe.  It was something like that I saw.  For I saw
all my most filthy actions gathered up and reflected back upon me from
that World of light.  I tell you it was a piteous and a dreadful thing to
see.  I knew not where to hide myself, for that shining light, in which
was no darkness at all, held the whole world within it, and all worlds.
You will see that I could not flee from its presence.  Oh that they could
be made to see this who commit deeds of darkness!  Oh that they but saw
that there is no place secret from God: but that all they do is done
before Him, and in Him!  Oh the madness of committing sin in the
immediate presence of a Majesty so great, and to whose holiness all our
sin is so hateful.  In this also I saw His great mercifulness in that He
suffers such a sinner as I am still to live.


O my God, what unspeakable sufferings our souls have to endure because
they have lost their liberty, and are not their own masters!  What
tortures come on them through that!  I sometimes wonder how I can live
through such agony of soul as I myself suffer.  God be praised who gives
me His own life in my soul, so that I may escape from so deadly a death!
My soul has indeed received great strength from His Divine Majesty.  He
has had compassion on my great misery, and has helped me.  Oh, what a
distress it is for my soul to have to return to hold commerce with this
world after having had its conversation in heaven!  To have to play a
part in the sad farce of this earthly life!  And yet I am in a strait
betwixt two.  I cannot run away from this world.  I must remain in it
till my discharge comes.  But, meantime, how keen is my captivity; how
wretched in my own soul am I.  And one of my worst distresses is this,
that I am alone in my exile.  All around me people seem to have found
their aim and end in life in this horrible prison-house, and to have
said, Soul, take thine ease.  But the life of my soul is a life of
incessant trouble.  The cross is always on my shoulder; at the same time
I surely make some progress.  God is the Soul of my soul.  He engulfs
into Himself my soul.  He enlightens and strengthens my soul.  He attends
to my soul night and day.  He gives my soul more and more grace.  This
has not come about of myself.  No effort of mine brought this about.  His
Majesty does it all.  And He has held me by the hand, that I might not go
back.  For this reason, it seems to me, the soul in which God works His
grace, if it walks in humility and in fear, it may be led into whatsoever
temptation, and thrown into whatsoever company, and it will only gain new
strength there, and win new victories and spoils there.  Those are strong
souls which are chosen of the Lord to work for the souls of others.  At
the same time, their best strength is not their own.  All that such souls
ever attain to and perform, all these things only make them more humble,
and therefore more strong; more able to despise the things of this world,
and to lay up their treasure in those things which God hath prepared for
them that love Him.  May it please His Majesty that the great munificence
with which He has dealt with my soul, miserable sinner that I am, may
have some weight with some of those who read this, so that they may be
strong and courageous to give up everything at once and most willingly
for such a God!


This has done me a great deal of good, and it has affected me much and
opened my eyes in many ways.  It is an ennobling thing to think that God
is more in the soul of man than He is in aught else outside of Himself.
They are happy people who have once got a hold of this glorious truth.  In
particular, the Blessed Augustine testifies that neither in the house,
nor in the church, nor anywhere else, did he find God, till once he had
found Him in himself.  Nor had he need to go up to heaven, but only down
into himself to find God.  Nay, he took God to heaven with him when at
last he went there.

Now consider what our Master teaches us to say: 'Our Father which art in
heaven.'  Think you it concerns you little to know where and what that
heaven is, and where your Heavenly Father is to be sought and found?  I
tell you that for vagrant minds it matters much not only to believe
aright about heaven, but to procure to understand this matter by
experience.  It is one of those things that strongly bind the
understanding and recollect the soul.  You already know that God is in
all places: in fine, that where God is there heaven is, and where His
Majesty most reveals Himself there glory is.  Consider again what Saint
Augustine said, that he sought God in many places, till at last he came
to find Him within himself.  You need not go to heaven to see God, or to
regale yourself with God.  Nor need you speak loud as if He were far
away.  Nor need you cry for wings like a dove so as to fly to Him.  Settle
yourself in solitude, and you will come upon God in yourself.  And then
entreat Him as your Father, and relate to Him your troubles.  Those who
can in this manner shut themselves up in the little heaven of their own
hearts, where He dwells who made heaven and earth, let them be sure that
they walk in the most excellent way: they lay their pipe right up to the
fountain.  To keep the eyes shut is an excellent practice in prayer,
because it is a summons and an assistance to turn the eyes of the soul
within, where God dwells and waits in Christ to be gracious.  Account
thus, that there is a great and beautiful palace in your soul; that its
structure is all of gold and precious stones; that your gifts and graces
are those shining stones, and that the greater your virtues are the more
those precious stones sparkle.  And, also, that in this palace the Great
King is your guest.  He sits on the innermost seat of your heart, and
holds it to be His best and bravest throne.  This will seem to some a
silly fiction.  And yet, if you will believe it, fiction as it is, it
will help you much; you especially who are women.  For we women sorely
want such assistance to our thoughts.  And, God grant that it be only
women who need such assistance to show them how base is the use they make
of themselves.  There should be some difference between us, both men and
women, and the brute beasts.  The brute beasts are nowhere said to be
temples of God, and they are nowhere called to account because their god
is their belly.  O great God, I tremble to see that I have written such a
page as the above, being such a wretch as I am.  My daughters, in their
own goodness, will be tempted to think that all this is true of myself,
and that is a terrible thought to me.  On the other hand, it is true of
God and their own souls.  Now let men pass a thousand censures on me, and
on my way of teaching the truth.  What of that, if only God and His ways
be a little better known and loved!  My sisters, the King is in His
palace all this time.  There are hostile invasions of His borders, and
inroads made into His territories, but He abides all the time on His
throne.  I smile at the weakness and unworthiness of all those
comparisons of palaces, and thrones, and shining stones, and enemies on
the border.  They in no way satisfy me.  But I am a woman, and I can find
out no better words for you women.  Think and say of my words what you
please.  The thing that I have spoken to you is the truth.


The true proficiency of the soul consists not so much in deep thinking or
eloquent speaking or beautiful writing as in much and warm loving.  Now
if you ask me in what way this much and warm love may be acquired, I
answer,--By resolving to do the will of God, and by watching to do His
will as often as occasion offers.  Those who truly love God love all good
wherever they find it.  They seek all good to all men.  They encourage
all good in all men.  They commend all good, they always unite themselves
with all good, they always acknowledge and defend all good.  They have no
quarrels.  They bear no envy.  O Lord, give me more and more of this
blessed love.  Grant me grace not to quit this underworld life till I no
longer desire anything, nor am capable of loving anything, save Thee
alone.  Grant that I may use this word 'love' with regard to Thee alone,
since there is no solidity for my love to rest on save in Thee.  The soul
has her own ways of understanding, and of finding in herself, by certain
signs and great conjectures, whether she really loves His Divine Majesty
or no.  Her love is full of high impulses, and longings to see and to be
with and to be like God.  All else tires and wearies out the soul.  The
best of created things disappoint and torment the soul.  God alone
satisfies the soul, till it is impossible to dissemble or mistake such a
love.  When once I came to see the great beauty of our Lord, it turned
all other comeliness to corruption to me.  My heart could rest on nothing
and on no one but Himself.  When anything else would enter my heart I had
only to turn my eyes for a moment in upon that Supreme Beauty that was
engraven within me.  So that it is now impossible that any created thing
can so possess my soul as not to be instantly expelled, and my mind and
heart set free by a little effort to recover the remembrance of the
goodness and the beauty of our Lord.  Good God!  What a difference there
is between the love of the Creator and the love of the creature!  May His
Divine Majesty vouchsafe to let us see and taste and understand something
of this before He takes us out of this prison-house life, for it will be
a magnificent comfort in the hour of death to know that we are on our way
to be judged by Him whom we have loved above all things.  We are not
going to a strange country, since it is His country whom we love and who
loves us.  These things being so, I have this very day solaced my soul
with our Lord, and have made my moan to Him in this manner.  O my Lord,
why keepest Thou Thy servant in this miserable life so long, where all is
such vexation, and disappointment, and manifold trouble?  And not only
keepest me so long in this banishment, but so hidest Thyself from me.  Is
this worthy of Thee and of Thy great goodness?  Were I what Thou art, and
wert Thou what I am, Thou wouldest not have to endure it at my hands.  I
beseech Thee, O my Lord, to consider that this is a kind of injury and
wrong to proceed after this manner with one who loves Thee so much.  This
and the like have come into my heart to say: though my bed in hell better
becomes me than so to speak to my Lord.  At the same time, the love I
bear my Lord sometimes so consumes me that I am beside myself, till I
scarce know what I say or do; and then I find myself making such
unbecoming complaints that I am amazed our Lord endures them at my hands.
Eternal praise to so good a Lord!


There are only two duties that our Lord requires of us,--the love of God,
and the love of our neighbour.  And, in my opinion, the surest sign for
discovering our love to God is our love to our neighbour.  And be assured
that the further you advance in the love of your neighbour, the further
you are advancing in the love of God likewise.  But, oh me, how many
worms lie gnawing at the roots of our love to our neighbour!  Self-love,
self-esteem, fault-finding, envy, anger, impatience, scorn.  I assure you
I write this with great grief, seeing myself to be so miserable a sinner
against all my neighbours.  Our Lord, my sisters, expects works.
Therefore when you see any one sick, compassionate her as if she were
yourself.  Pity her.  Fast that she may eat.  Wake that she may sleep.
Again, when you hear any one commended and praised, rejoice in it as much
as if you were commended and praised yourself.  Which, indeed, should be
easy, because where humility truly is, praise is a torment.  Cover also
your sister's defects as you would have your own defects and faults
covered and not exposed.  As often as occasion offers, lift off your
neighbour's burden.  Take it off her heart and on upon yourself.  Satan
himself would not be Satan any longer if he could once love his neighbour
as himself.

Endeavour, my daughters, all you can, to be affable to all.  Demean
yourselves so that all who have to do with you may love your
conversation, so as to desire after your way of life.  Let no one be
affrighted or turned away from the life of virtue and religion by your
gloom and morosity.  This concerns religious women very much.  The more
holy they are, the more affable and sociable should they study to be.
Never hold aloof from others because their conversation is not altogether
to your taste.  Love them, and they will love you, and then they will
converse with you, and will become like you, and better than you.  Let
not your soul coop itself up in a corner.  For, instead of attaining to
greater sanctity in a proud, and disdainful, and impatient seclusion, the
devil will keep you company there, and will do your sequestered soul much
mischief.  Bury evil affections in good works.  Wherefore be accessible
and affable to all, and all in love.  Love is an endless enchantment, and
spell, and fascination.


This is a very fit place for thinking on our wounds, and bruises, and
putrifying sores: the blindness of our minds, the depravity and the
bondage of our wills, the forgetfulness of our memories, the slipperiness
of our tongues, the levity and frivolity of our hearts, with all their
extravagances, presumptions, neglects.  In fine, let there be no
spiritual wound within us, great or small, old or new, which we do not
daily discover and lay open to our Sovereign Physician, beseeching of Him
a remedy.  This day it is very proper to call to mind the five fountains
of our Lord's wounds, which are still open, and will remain open till the
last day for the cure of all the sores of our souls.  And since out of
His wounds we receive our spiritual health, let us mollify our wounds
with the ointment of mortification and humility and meekness: in all
things always employing ourselves for the benefit of our neighbour.
Since, though we cannot have our Lord visibly and in presence beside us,
we have our neighbour, who for the ends of love and loving service is as
good as our Lord Himself.


I saw that rich and great as she was, she was still a woman, and as much
liable to all manner of passion and all womanly weakness as I was myself.
I saw as I lived in her house that rank is of little worth, and the
higher it is, the greater the trouble and the anxiety it brings with it.
Great people must be careful of their dignity.  It will not suffer them
to live at ease.  They must eat at fixed hours and by rule, for
everything must be according to their state, and not according to their
constitutions.  And they have frequently to take food more fitted for
their state than for their liking.  So it was that I came to hate the
wish to be a great lady.  God deliver me from this artificial and evil
life!  Then, as to servants, though this lady has very good servants, how
slight is the trust she is able to put in them.  One must not be
conversed with more than the rest, otherwise he is envied and hated of
all the rest.  This of itself is a slavery; and it is another of the lies
of the world to call such people masters and mistresses, who, in reality,
are nothing but slaves in a thousand ways.  I really see nothing good in
the world and its ways but this, that it will not tolerate the smallest
fault in those who are not its own.  For by detracting, and
fault-finding, and evil-reporting on the good, the world greatly helps to
perfect them.  He who will not die to the world shall die by it.  O
wretched world!  Bless God, my daughters, that He has chosen and enabled
you to turn your backs for ever on a thing so base.  The world is to be
known by this also, that it esteems a man not by what he is, but by what
he possesses: by what is in his purse: and, that failing, the honour and
esteem of the world instantly fail also.  O our Lord; Supreme Power,
Supreme Goodness, Supreme Truth; Thy perfections are without beginning
and without end.  They are infinite and incomprehensible.  They are a
bottomless ocean of beauty.  O my God, that I had the eloquence of an
angel's speech to set forth Thy goodness and Thy truth, and to win all
men over to Thee!


After my vow of perfection I spake not ill of any creature, how little
soever it might be.  I scrupulously avoided all approaches to detraction.
I had this rule ever present with me, that I was not to wish, nor assent
to, nor say such things of any person whatsoever, that I would not have
them say of me.  And as time went on, I succeeded in persuading those who
were about me to adopt the same habit, till it came to be understood that
where I was absent persons were safe.  So they were also with all those
whom I so instructed.  Still, for all that, I have a sufficiently strict
account to give to God for the bad example I am to all about me in some
other respects.  May it please His Majesty to forgive me, for I have been
the cause of much evil.  For one thing, the devil sometimes fills me with
such a harsh and cruel temper: such a spirit of anger and hostility at
some people, that I could eat them up and annihilate them.  At the same
time, concerning things said of myself in detraction, and they are many,
and are very prejudicial to me, I find myself much improved.  These
things make little impression upon me.  I am under them as a deaf man
that hears not, and as a man in whose mouth there is no retaliation.  Nay,
I almost always see that my greatest detractors have only too good reason
for what they say.  In this way my soul actually gains peace and strength
under detraction, till it becomes a great favour done me, and a great
advantage.  Upon betaking myself to prayer, I find in my heart neither
repugnance at my detractors nor enmity.  For, although, when I first hear
the detraction, it causes me a little disconcert, yet not any
long-lasting disquiet or alteration.  Nay, sometimes when I see people
take pity on me because of my detractors, I laugh at them, so little do
all my detractors now hurt me.


That which I am now to persuade you to, namely, the not excusing of
yourselves, causes a great confusion in me.  For it is a very perfect
quality and of great merit; and I ought far better to practise what I
tell you concerning this excellent virtue.  I confess myself to be but
little improved in this noble duty.  For it is a mark of the deepest and
truest humility to see ourselves condemned without cause, and to be
silent under it.  It is a very noble imitation of our Lord.  Were I truly
humble, I would desire disesteem, even though having in the matter in
hand given no real offence.  Here no bodily strength is needed, my
daughters, nor any one's assistance, but God's.  How well is this
written, and how ill is it practised by the writer!  Indeed, I never
could make trial of this grace in any matter of consequence, because I
never heard of any one speaking ill of me, but I immediately saw how far
short he came of the full truth.  For, if he was wrong or exaggerated in
his particulars, I had offended God much more in other matters that my
detractor knew nothing about.  And, methought, God favoured me much in
not proclaiming my secret sins to all men.  And, thus, I am very glad
that my detractor should ever report a trifling lie about me, rather than
the terrible truth.

O my Lord, when I remember in how many ways Thou didst suffer detraction
and misrepresentation, who in no way deserved it, I know not where my
senses are when I am in such a haste to defend and excuse myself.  Is it
possible that I should desire any one to speak any good of me, or to
think it, when so many ill things were thought and spoken of Thee!  What
is this, O Lord; what do we imagine to get by pleasing worms, or being
praised by them?  What about being blamed by all men, if only we stand at
last blameless before Thee!


Observe carefully the stirrings of your heart in matters of superiority.
Pray to be delivered from such thoughts as these: I am older.  I deserve
better.  I have laboured more.  I have more talent.  Such thoughts are
the plague and poison of the heart.  Believe me, if there remain in you
any allowed hankerings after the praises of men, though you may have
spent many years in prayer, or rather in idle forms of prayer, you have
made no progress, and never will, till your heart is crucified to the
approval and the praise of men.  If you feel in yourself any point of
honour, any pride, any desire of eminence or pre-eminence, you must free
yourself from that abominable bondage, and for that chain there is no
hammer and file like humility and prayer.  Among the rest of my great
imperfections this was one.  I had very little knowledge of my Breviary,
or of that which was to be sung in the choir, and all the while I saw
that some other novices could instruct me.  But I was too proud to ask
any questions.  I was afraid that my great ignorance should be
discovered.  Shortly afterwards a good example was set before me, and
then, when God had once opened my eyes to my sinful pride, I was content
to ask information and the help even of little children.  And yet,--and
this surprised me, I lost no credit or honour thereby.  Nay, it seemed to
me that my Lord after that gave me better skill and a better memory.  I
could sing but very ill, and I was troubled at this, not because I failed
in my worship of God, but because so many heard me, and thus I was
disturbed on the mere point of honour and praise.  I told them that I
could not do what others did, and what was expected of me.  At first I
had some difficulty in this, but it soon became both natural and pleasant
to me to tell the truth.  By these nothings,--and they are really
nothings, and I am sufficiently nothing when such things could put me to
so much pain,--and by little and little His Divine Majesty vouchsafed to
supply me with strength.  I was never good at the choir, but I tried to
do my part for it in folding up the mantles of the singers; and,
methought, in that I was serving the angels of God who so well praised
Him.  I did that also by stealth, such was my pride, and my pride was
hurt when they discovered what I did.  O my Lord, who that ever reads
this can fail to despise and abhor me?  I beseech Thy Divine Majesty that
I may soon be able to leave all such vanities as the praise and blame of
men, and seek Thy praise only!  And then add this, which is worth
knowing.  The devil will not dare to tempt one to pride or precedency who
is truly humble because, being very crafty, he fears defeat.  If you are
truly humble, you will only grow in that grace by every temptation to
pride or praise.  For, immediately on the temptation, you will reflect on
your whole past life and present character, and on the stupendous
humility of Jesus Christ.  And by these considerations your tempted soul
will come off so victorious, that the enemy will think twice before he
comes back, for fear of a broken head.


Keep yourselves, my daughters, from that false humility which the devil
suggests concerning the greatness of your sins.  For hereby he is wont to
disquiet our souls after sundry sorts, and to draw us off Holy Communion,
and also from prayer.  It is sometimes a great and a true humility to
esteem ourselves as bad as may be, but at other times it is a false and a
spurious humility.  I know it, for I have experienced it.  True humility,
however great, does not disquiet nor disorder the soul.  It comes with
great peace, and great serenity, and great delight.  Though we should see
our utter wickedness, and how truly we deserve to be in hell, and think
that both God and man must despise and abhor us; yet, if this be a true
humility, it comes with a certain sweetness and satisfaction attending
it.  This humility does not stifle nor crush the soul.  It rather dilates
the soul, and disposes the soul for the better service of God.  While
that other sorrow troubles all, and confounds all, and destroys all.  It
is the devil's humility when he gets us to distrust God.  When you find
yourselves thus, lay aside all thinking on your own misery, and meditate
on the infinite mercy of God, and on the inexhaustible merit and grace of
Jesus Christ.

I was once considering what the reason was why our Lord loved humility in
us so much, when I suddenly remembered that He is essentially the Supreme
Truth, and that humility is just our walking in the truth.  For it is a
very great truth that we have no good in us, but only misery and
nothingness, and he who does not understand this walks in lies: but he
who understands this the best is the most pleasing to the Supreme Truth.
May God grant us this favour, sisters, never to be without the humbling
knowledge of ourselves.

O Sovereign Virtues!  O Ladies of all the creatures!  O Empresses of the
whole world!  Whoever hath you may go forth and fight boldly with all
hell at once.  Let your soldiers not fear, for victory is already theirs.
They only fear to displease God.  They constantly beseech Him to maintain
all the virtues in them.  It is true these virtues have this property, to
hide themselves from him who possesses them, so that he never sees them
in himself, nor thinks that he can ever possess a single one of them.
Other men see all the virtues in him, but he so values them that he still
pursues them, and seeks them as something never to be attained by such as
he is.  And Humility is one of them, and is Queen and Empress and
Sovereign over them all.  In fine, one act of true humility in the sight
of God is of more worth than all the knowledge, sacred and profane, in
the whole world.


It is indeed a very great misery to live on in this evil world where our
enemies are ever at our gate, and where we can neither eat nor sleep in
peace, but are compelled to have our armour on night and day.  There is
no rest here, nor happiness, nor will be till we are with the
Everlastingly Blessed.  As I write I am seized with terror, lest I should
never escape this sinful life.  Pray for me, my daughters, that Christ
may ever live in me: for, otherwise, what security can there be for such
as I am, who have been so wicked.  You may sometimes have thought, my
daughters, that those to whom the Lord particularly communicates Himself,
will be henceforth secure of enjoying Him for ever, and that they will
have no need to fear or bewail their former sins.  But this is a great
mistake.  Sorrow for sin increases in proportion as more and more grace
is received from God.  And I, for my part, believe, that this bitter
sorrow will never leave us till we come where neither sin nor anything
else will ever disquiet us.  True, both past sin, and present sinfulness,
affect us more at one time than at another; and, likewise, in a different
manner.  I know one who often wishes for death, that she may be freed
from the torment of her sinful heart.  No one's sins can equal hers,
because there can be no one who has obtained such favours of her God.  Her
fear is not so much of hell, as that she should so grieve God's Holy
Spirit, that He will be wearied out, and will forsake her, and leave her
in her sins.  This fear and pain is not at all eased by believing that
her past sins have all been forgiven and forgotten of God.  Nay, her fear
and pain but increase by seeing such mercy extended toward a woman who
deserves nothing but hell.


I always had a great respect and affection for intellectual and learned
men.  It is my experience that all who intend to be true Christians will
do well to treat with men of mind and books about their souls.  The more
learning our preachers and pastors have the better.  For if they have not
much experience themselves, yet they know the Scriptures and the recorded
experiences of the saints better than we do.  The devil is exceedingly
afraid of learning, especially where it is accompanied with humility and
virtue.  For my own part, I bless God continually, and we women, and all
such as are not ourselves intellectual or learned, are always to give God
infinite thanks that there are some men in the world who take such great
pains to attain to that knowledge which we need but do not possess.  And
it delights me to see men taking the immense trouble they do take to
bring me so much profit, and that without any trouble to me.  I have only
to sit still and hear them.  I have only to come and ask them a question.
Let us pray for our teachers, for what would we do without them.  I
beseech the Lord to bless our teachers, that they may be more and more a
blessing to us.

When I spoke of humility, it must not be understood as if I spoke against
aspiring after the highest things that mind and heart and life can attain
to.  For though I have no ability for the wisdom and the knowledge of God
myself, and am so miserable that God did me a great favour in teaching me
the very lowliest truths: yet, in my judgment, learning and knowledge are
very great possessions, and a great assistance in the life of prayer, if
only they are always accompanied with humility.  I have of late seen some
very learned men become in addition very spiritual and prayerful men.  And
that makes me pray that all our men of mind and learning may soon become
spiritual men and men of much prayer.

Let no one be admitted into this House unless she is a woman of a sound
understanding.  For if she is without mind she will neither know herself,
nor understand her teachers.  For the most part they that are defective
in mind ever think that they understand things better than their
teachers.  And ignorance and self-conceit is a disease that is incurable;
and besides, it usually carries great malice along with it.  Many speak
much and understand little.  Others, again, speak little and not very
elegantly, and yet they have a sound understanding.  There is such a
thing as a holy simplicity that knows little of anything but of how to
treat with God.  At the same time commend me to holy people of good
heads.  From silly devotees, may God deliver us!  While all that is true,
in the very act of prayer itself there is little necessity for learning,
for the mind then, because of its nearness to the light, is itself
immediately illuminated.  I myself, who am what I am, even I am a
different person in prayer.  It has often happened to me, who scarcely
understand a word of what I read in Latin, when in deep prayer, to
understand the Latin Psalms as if they were Spanish.  At the same time,
even for prayer, let those who have to teach and preach take full
advantage of their learning, that they may help poor people of little
learning, of whom I am one.  Ministering with all learning and all
intellectual ability to souls is a great thing, when it is done unto God.
I have many experiences in prayer that I do not understand, and cannot
explain or defend.  Our Lord has not been pleased to give me the full
intellectual understanding of all His dealings with me.  That is the
truth.  Though you, my father, may think that I have a quick
understanding, it is in reality not so.  Sometimes my advisers used to be
amazed at my ignorance how God carried on His work within me.  It was
there, but the way of it was a great deep to me.  I could neither wade
out unto God, nor down into myself.  Though, as I have said, I loved to
converse with men of mind as well as of heart.  At the same time, my
difficulties but increased my devotion, and the greater my difficulty the
greater the increase of my devotion.  Praise His Name.


(1) _The Price of Prayer_.--O Thou Lord of my soul, and my Eternal Good,
why is it that when a soul resolves to follow Thee, and to do her best to
forsake all for Thee,--why is it that Thou dost not instantly perfect Thy
love and Thy peace within that soul?  But I have spoken unadvisedly and
foolishly, for it is we who are at fault in prayer, and never Thee.  We
are so long and so slow in giving up our hearts to Thee.  And then Thou
wilt not permit our enjoyment of Thee without our paying well for so
precious a possession.  There is nothing in all the world wherewith to
buy the shedding abroad of Thy love in our heart, but our heart's love.
If, however, we did what we could, not clinging with our hearts to
anything whatsoever in this world, but having our treasure and our
conversation in heaven, then this blessedness would soon be ours, as all
Thy saints testify.  God never withholds Himself from him who pays this
price and who perseveres in seeking Him.  He will, little by little, and
now and then, strengthen and restore that soul, till at last it is
victorious.  If he who enters on this road only does violence enough to
himself, with the help of God, he will not only go to heaven himself, but
he will not go alone: he will take others with him.  God will give him,
as to a good leader, those who will go after him.  Only, let not any man
of prayer ever expect to enjoy his whole reward here.  He must remain a
man of faith and prayer to the end.  Let him resolve, then, that whatever
his aridity and sense of indevotion may be, he will never let himself
sink utterly under his cross.  And the day will come when he will receive
all his petitions in one great answer, and all his wages in one great
reward.  For he serves a good Master, who stands over him watching him.
And let him never give over because of evil thoughts, even if they are
sprung upon him in the middle of his prayer, for the devil so vexed the
holy Jerome even in the wilderness.  But all these toils of soul have
their sure reward, and their just recompense set out for them.  And, I
can assure you, as one who knows what she is saying, that one single drop
of water out of God's living well will both sustain you and reward you
for another day and another night of your life of life-long prayer.

(2) _Sin spoils Prayer_.--Now I saw that there would be no answer to me
till I had entire purity of conscience, and no longer regarded any
iniquity whatsoever in my heart.  I saw that there were some secret
affections still left in me, which, though they were not very bad perhaps
in themselves, yet in a life of prayer such as I was attempting those
remanent affections spoiled all.

(3) _Eighteen Years of Misery in Prayer_.--It is not without very good
reason that I have dwelt so long on this part of my life.  It will give
no one any pleasure to see any one so base as I was.  And I wish all who
read this to have me in abhorrence.  I failed in all obedience, because I
was not leaning on my strong pillar of prayer.  I passed nearly twenty
years of my life on this stormy sea, constantly tossed with tempest and
never coming to harbour.  It was the most painful life that can be
imagined, because I had no sweetness in God, and certainly no sweetness
in sin.  I was often very angry with myself on account of the many tears
I shed for my faults, when I could not but see how little improvement all
my tears made in me.  All my tears did not hold me back from sin when the
opportunity returned.  Till I came to look on my tears as little short of
a delusion: and yet they were not.  It was the goodness of the Lord to
give me such compunction even when it was not as yet accompanied with
complete reformation.  But the whole root of my evil lay in my not
thoroughly avoiding all occasions of sin, and in my confessors, who
helped me at that time so little.  If they had only told me what a
dangerous road it was I was travelling in, and that I was bound to break
off all occasions of sin, I do believe, without any doubt, that the
matter would have been remedied at once.  Nevertheless, I can trace
distinctly the mercy of God to me in that all the time I had still the
courage to pray.  I say courage, because I know nothing in the whole
world that requires greater courage than plotting treason against the
King, knowing that He knows it, and yet continuing to frequent His
presence in prayer.  I spent more than eighteen years in that miserable
attempt to reconcile God and my life of sin.  The reason that I tell and
repeat all this so often is that all who read what I write may understand
how great is that grace God works in the soul when He gives it a
disposition to pray on, even when it has not yet left off all sin.  If
that soul perseveres, in spite of sin, and temptation, and many relapses,
our Lord will bring that soul at last--I am certain of it--to the harbour
of salvation, to which He is surely bringing myself.  I will say what I
know by experience,--let him never cease from prayer, who has once begun
to pray, be his life ever so bad.  For prayer is the only way to amend
his life, and without prayer it will never be mended.  Let him not be
tempted of the devil, as I was, to give up prayer on account of his
unworthiness.  Let him rather believe that if he will only still repent
and pray, our Lord will still hear and answer.  For myself, very often I
was more occupied with the wish to see the end of the hour.  I used
actually to watch the sand-glass.  And the sadness I sometimes felt on
entering my oratory was so great, that it required all my courage to
force myself in.  In the end our Lord came to my help: and, then, when I
had done this violence to myself, I found far greater peace and joy than
when I prayed with regale and rapture.  If our Lord then bore so long
with me in all my wickedness, why should any one despair, however wicked
he may be?  Let him have been ever so wicked up till now, he will not
remain in his wickedness so many years as I did after receiving so many
graces from our Lord.  And this more I will say,--prayer was the true
door by which our Lord distributed out all His grace so liberally to me.
Prayer and trust.  I used indeed to pray for help: but I see now that I
committed all the time the fatal mistake of not putting my whole trust in
His Majesty.  I should have utterly and thoroughly distrusted and
detested and suspected myself.  I sought for help.  I sometimes took
great pains to get it.  But I did not understand of how little use all
that is unless we root utterly all confidence out of ourselves, and place
it at once, and for ever, and absolutely in God.  Those were eighteen
miserable years.

(4) _Aridity in Prayer_.--Let no one weary or lose heart in prayer
because of aridity.  For the Hearer of prayer comes in all such cases
very late.  But at last He comes.  And though He confessedly comes late,
He correspondingly makes up to the soul for all His delays, and rewards
her on the spot for all her toil, and dryness, and discouragement of many
years.  I have great pity on those who give way and lose all this through
not being taught to persevere in prayer.  It is a bad beginning, and very
prejudicial to proficiency in prayer, to use it for the gust and
consolation that a man receives at the time.  I know by my own
experience, that he who determines to pray, not much heeding either
immediate comfort or dejection, he has got into one of the best secrets
of prayer.  I am troubled to hear that grave men, and men of learning and
understanding, complain that God does not give them sensible devotion.  It
proceeds from ignorance of the true life of prayer, and from not carrying
the cross into prayer as into all the rest of the spiritual life.  He who
begins to pray should be well told that he begins to plant a fine garden
in very bad soil; a soil full of the most noxious and ineradicable weeds.
And that after good herbs and plants and flowers have been sown, then he
has to weed and water and fence and watch that garden night and day and
all his life.  Till the Lord of the garden is able to come and recreate
and regale Himself where once there was nothing but weeds, and stones,
and noxious vermin.  Prayer, howsoever perfect in itself it may be, must
always be directed in upon the performance of good works.  We must not
content ourselves with the gift of prayer, or with liberty and
consolation and gust in prayer.  We must come out from prayer the most
rapturous and sweet only to do harder and ever harder works for God and
our neighbour.  Otherwise the prayer is not good, and the gusts are not
from God.  The growth and maturity and fruitfulness of the soul do not
stand in liberty in prayer, but in love.  And this love is got not by
speaking much but by doing and suffering much.  For my part, and I have
been long at it, I desire no other gift of prayer but that which ends in
every day making me a better and better woman.  By its fruits your prayer
will be known to yourselves and others.

At other times I find myself so arid that I am not able to form any
distinct idea of God, nor can I put my soul into an attitude of prayer,
though I am in the place of prayer, and though I feel that I know
something of God.  This mind of mine at such times is like a born fool or
some idiot creature that nothing can bind down.  I cannot command myself.
I cannot properly say one _Credo_.  At such times I laugh bitterly at
myself, and see clearly my own natural misery.  I come then to see the
exceeding favour of the Lord in that He ever holds this insane fool fast
in prayer and holiness.  What would those who love and honour me think if
they saw their friend in this dotage and distraction?  I reflect at such
times on the great hurt our original sin has done us.  For it is from our
first fall that all this has come to us that we so wander from God, and
are so often utterly incapable of God.  But it is not so much Adam's sin
as my own that works in me all this alienation and inability and aridity.
Methinks I love God; but my actions, and the endless imperfections I see
in myself, cause me great fear, and deep and inconsolable distress.

(5) _Prayer after Sin_.--Never let any one leave off prayer on any
pretence: great sins committed, or any other pretence whatsoever.  For by
leaving off prayer the soul will be finally lost, while every return to
prayer is new life and new strength, as I am continually telling you.  I
tell you again that the leaving off of prayer was the most devilish and
the most deadly temptation I ever met with.

(6) _Meditation in Prayer_.--He who prays should often stop to think with
whom he speaks: who he himself is who speaks: who Jesus Christ is through
whom he speaks: what that country is to which he aspires: how he may best
please Him who dwells there: and what he is to do so that his character
and disposition may suit with God's disposition and character.  Mental
prayer, as I am wont to call it, is the constant meditation of such
things as these.  And mental prayer ought to be endeavoured after by all,
though they have no virtues, because it is the beginning of them, and
therefore the one interest of all men is at once to begin such prayer.
But it will be exercised with no little difficulty unless the steady
acquisition of the virtues accompanies it.  In prayer it is far best to
be alone; as, for our example and instruction, our Lord always was when
He prayed.  For we cannot talk both to God and man at the same moment.
And, if we feel too much alone, and must have company, no company is
comparable to Christ's company.  Let us picture and represent Christ to
ourselves and to His Father as always at our side.  Those who pray with
proper preparation: that is, with much meditation on the whole life and
death of our Lord: on their own death: on the last day, or such like, our
Lord will bring all such to the port of light.  Meditate much on the
Sacred Humanity of our Lord: what He was on earth: what He said: what He
did, and what He suffered.  Because this life of ours is long and uphill,
which to pass well through needs the constant presence with us of our
great Exemplar, Jesus Christ.

(7) _The Presence of God in Prayer_.--In prayer there would sometimes
come upon me such a sense of the Presence of God that I seemed to be all
engulfed in God.  I think the learned call this mystical experience; at
any rate, it so suspends the ordinary operations of the soul that she
seems to be wholly taken out of herself.  This tenderness, this
sweetness, this regale is nothing else but the Presence of God in the
praying soul.  At the same time, I believe that we can greatly help
toward the obtaining of God's Presence.  We obtain it by considering much
our own baseness, the neglect and the ingratitude we show toward the Son
of God, how much He has done for us, His passion and terrible suffering,
His whole life so full of affliction, by delighting ourselves in His word
and in His works, and such things as these.  And if in these reflections
the soul be seized with the Presence of God, then the whole soul is
regaled as I have described.  The heart is filled with relenting.  Tears
also abound.  In this way does the Divine Majesty repay us even here for
any little care we take to serve Him and to be with Him.  The life of
prayer is just love to God and the custom of being ever with Him.

(8) _Supernatural Prayer_.--In supernatural prayer God places the soul in
His immediate Presence, and in an instant bestows Himself upon the soul
in a way she could never of herself attain to.  He manifests something of
His greatness to the soul at such times: something of His beauty,
something of His special and particular grace.  And the soul enjoys God
without dialectically understanding just how she so enjoys Him.  She
burns with love without knowing what she has done to deserve or to
prepare herself for such a rapture.  It is the gift of God, and He gives
His gifts to whomsoever and whensoever He will.  This, my daughters, is
perfect contemplation: this is supernatural prayer.  Now this is the
difference between natural and supernatural prayer: between mental and
transcendental prayer.  In ordinary prayer we more or less understand
what we say and do.  We think of Him to whom we speak; we think about
ourselves and about our Surety and Mediator.  In all this, by God's help,
we can do something, so to speak, of ourselves.  But in pure supernatural
and transcendental prayer, we do nothing at all.  His Divine Majesty it
is who does it all.  He works in us at such elect seasons what far
transcends and overtops all the powers and resources even of the renewed
nature.  At the same time, as a far-off means of attaining to
supernatural prayer, it is necessary to put upon ourselves the acquiring
of the great virtues, and especially, humility: we must give up and
resign ourselves wholly and entirely unto God.  Whoever will not attempt
to do this, with all the grace of God, that man will never come within
sight of the highest prayer.  Let him, in absolutely everything, seat
himself in the lowest place.  Let him account himself utterly and
hopelessly unworthy of everything he possesses, both in nature and in
grace.  Let him shun advancement.  Let him apply himself to daily
mortification, not of the body so much as of the mind and the heart, and
let him be more than content with the least thing that God allows him,
for this is true humility.  In short, let His Majesty lead us in any way
He pleases, and the chances are that He will soon lead us by these ways
to a life of prayer and communion it had not entered into our hearts to
conceive possible to such sinners as we are.  Let no man be too much cast
down, because he has not yet attained to supernatural prayer.  God leads
His people in the way that He chooses out as best for Him and for them.
And he who stands low in his own eyes, may all the time stand high in
God's eyes.  Supernatural prayer is not necessary to salvation: nor doth
God require it of us.  They shall not fail of salvation who practise
themselves in the solid virtues.  No, they may have more merit in His
eyes than their more favoured neighbours, because their obedience, and
their faith, and their love have cost them more.  Their Lord deals with
them as with strong and valiant men, appointing them travail and trouble
here, that they may fight for Him the good fight of faith, and only come
in for the prize at the end.  And, after all, what greater mark of a high
election can there be than to taste much of the cross?  Whom the Lord
loveth, in that measure He lays on them His cross.  And the heaviest of
all our crosses is a life of sanctification and service without sensible

(9) _Over-familiarity in Prayer_.--He was a man of a powerful
understanding.  I thought on his great gifts, and the possibilities there
were in him of doing great service if he were once entirely devoted to
God.  He asked me to recommend him much to God, and I did not need to be
asked.  I went away to the place to which I used to retreat in cases like
this.  And once there, I put myself into a state of entire recollection,
and began to treat with our Lord in a way, when I think of it, of too
great familiarity.  But it was love that spake, and every one allows love
great familiarity, and no one so much as our Lord.  My soul overlooked
the distance between herself and her Lord.  She forgot herself, as she so
often does, and began to talk impertinences and to take too great
freedoms.  I entreated our Lord with many tears.  I judged my friend to
be already a good man, but I must have him much better, and I said so too
freely, I fear.  'O Lord,' I remember I said,' Thou must not deny me this
favour that I ask.  This is a man for us to make a friend of.'  And far
more than that.  And He did it.  Yes, He did it.  O His immense bounty
and goodness!  He regards not the words but the affection with which the
words are uttered.  That must be so, when He endures with such an
impertinent and over-familiar and irreverent wretch as I am; endures and
answers.  May He be blessed to all eternity!

(10) _The Best Result of Prayer_.--To Father Gratian.  To-day I received
three letters from your Reverence by the way of the head-post.  The whole
matter is in a nut-shell.  That prayer is the most acceptable which
leaves the best results.  Results, I mean, in actions.  That is true
prayer.  Not certain gusts of softness and feeling, and nothing more.  For
myself, I wish no other prayer but that which improves me in virtue.  I
would fain live more nearly as I pray.  I count that to be a good prayer
which leaves me more humble, even if it is still with great temptations,
tribulations, and aridities.  For it must never be thought that because a
man has much suffering, therefore he cannot have prayed acceptably.  His
suffering is as incense set forth before God.  Tell my daughters that
they must work and suffer as well as pray, and that it is the best prayer
that has with it the most work and the most suffering.

(11) _A Bishop taught to Pray_.--To Don Alonzo Velasquez, Bishop of Osma.
Your Reverence enjoined me the other day to recommend you to God.  I have
done so: not regarding my own inconsiderableness, but your requisition
and your rights.  And I promise myself from your goodness that you will
take in good part what I feel compelled to say to you, and will accept
that which proceeds only from my obedience to you.  Recognising, then,
and representing to our Lord, the great favours He has done you in having
bestowed upon you humility, charity, zeal for souls, and a strong desire
to vindicate the Divine honour, I still besought the Lord for an increase
in you of all these same virtues and perfections in order that you may
prove as accomplished in all these things as the dignity of your office
requires.  Till it was discovered to me that you still wanted that which
is the foundation of every virtue, and without which the whole
superstructure dissolves, and falls in ruins.  You want prayer.  You want
believing, persevering, courageous prayer.  And the want of that prayer
causes all that drought and disunion from which you say your soul
suffers.  That which was shown me as the way your lordship is henceforth
to pray is this.  You are to recollect and accuse yourself of all your
sins since your last time of like prayer.  You are to divest yourself of
everything as if you were that moment to die.  You are to begin by
reciting to yourself and to God the Fifty-first Psalm.  And after that
you must say this.  'I come, O Lord, Bishop as I am, to Thy children's
school of prayer and obedience.  I come to Thee not to teach, but to
learn.  I will speak to Thee, who am but dust and ashes.'  And all the
time set before the eyes of your soul Jesus Christ crucified, and
ruminate on Him in some such way as this.  Fix your eyes on that
stupendous humility of His whereby He so annihilated Himself.  Look on
His head crowned with thorns.  Fix your eyes on His nailed hands, His
feet, and His side.  Meditate on and interrogate every one of His wounds
for you.  It behoves you also to go to prayer with a most entire
resignation and submission and pliantness to go that way in religion and
in life that God points out to you.  Sometimes He will teach you by
turning His back on you: and, anon, by lifting up the light of His
countenance upon you.  Sometimes by shutting you out of His presence, and
sometimes by bringing you into His banqueting-house.  And you are to
receive it all with the same equability of mind, knowing that He always
acts for the best.  Otherwise you will go to teach God in your prayers,
which is not the proper scope and intent of prayer at all.  And when you
say that you are dust and ashes, you must observe and exhibit the proper
quality of such.  In our Lord's prayer in the garden, He requested that
the bitterness and the terrible trial He felt in overcoming His human
nature might be taken away.  He did not ask that His pains might be taken
away, but only the disgust wherewith He suffered them.  And when it was
answered Him that it was not expedient but that He should drink that cup,
He had to master that weakness and pusillanimity of the flesh, as must
all other men.  One cannot be a great scholar, or even a finished
courtier, without great pains and expense; and to be a scholar in the
Church, and a minister, and a master in the science of Heaven, cannot be
done without long time at school and much hard work.  And herewith I
desist from saying more to your lordship, whose pardon I beg for all this
presumption.  Which, however full it may be of defects and indiscretions,
is not wanting in that zeal I owe to your service as one of the most
wandering and gone astray of your lordship's flock.  Our Lord preserve
your lordship, and enrich you with the manifold increase of His grace.  I
am, your lordship's unworthy servant and subject, Teresa of Jesus.

(12) _The proper Readers of what the Saint has Written_,--And now I
return most humbly to beseech your Reverence, that, if you mean to impart
to any one these things that you have made me write concerning prayer,
let them be imparted to spiritual persons, and to persons of real insight
only.  For, indeed, I have written for persons of exceptional experience
and exceptional prudence only.  What I have written, I fear, very few are
capable of.  But what am I, to speak thus about any but myself?
Farewell.--I am,


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