CHAPTER XX

Treats of the difference between union and rapture. Describes the nature of rapture and says something of the blessing that comes to the soul which the Lord, of His goodness, brings to it. Describes the effects which it produces. This chapter is particularly admirable.

I should like, with the help of God, to be able to describe the difference between union and rapture, or elevation, or what they call flight of the spirit, or transport -- it is all one. I mean that these different names all refer to the same thing, which is also called ecstasy. It is much more beneficial than union: the effects it produces are far more important and it has a great many more operations, for union gives the impression of being just the same at the beginning, in the middle and at the end, and it all happens interiorly. But the ends of these raptures are of a higher degree, and the effects they produce are both interior and exterior. May the Lord explain this, as He has explained everything else, for I should certainly know nothing of it if His Majesty had not shown me the ways and manners in which it can to some extent be described.

Let us now reflect that this last water which we have described is so abundant that, were it not that the ground is incapable of receiving it, we might believe this cloud of great Majesty to be with us here on this earth. But as we are giving Him thanks for this great blessing, and doing our utmost to draw near to Him in a practical way, the Lord gathers up the soul, just (we might say) as the clouds gather up the vapours from the earth, and raises it up till it is right out of itself (I have heard that it is in this way that the clouds or the sun gather up the vapours)[1] and the cloud rises to Heaven and takes the soul with it, and begins to reveal to it things concerning the Kingdom that He has prepared for it. I do not know if the comparison is an exact one, but that is the way it actually happens.

In these raptures the soul seems no longer to animate the body, and thus the natural heat of the body is felt to be very sensibly diminished: it gradually becomes colder, though conscious of the greatest sweetness and delight. No means of resistance is possible, whereas in union, where we are on our own ground, such a means exists: resistance may be painful and violent but it can almost always be effected. But with rapture, as a rule, there is no such possibility: often it comes like a strong, swift impulse, before your thought can forewarn you of it or you can do anything to help yourself; you see and feel this cloud, or this powerful eagle, rising and bearing you up with it on its wings.

You realize, I repeat, and indeed see, that you are being carried away, you know not whither. For, though rapture brings us delight, the weakness of our nature at first makes us afraid of it, and we need to be resolute and courageous in soul, much more so than for what has been described. For, happen what may, we must risk everything, and resign ourselves into the hands of God and go willingly wherever we are carried away, for we are in fact being carried away, whether we like it or no. In such straits do I find myself at such a time that very often I should be glad to resist, and I exert all my strength to do so, in particular at times when it happens in public and at many other times in private, when I am afraid that I may be suffering deception. Occasionally I have been able to make some resistance, but at the cost of great exhaustion, for I would feel as weary afterwards as though I had been fighting with a powerful giant. At other times, resistance has been impossible: my soul has been borne away, and indeed as a rule my head also, without my being able to prevent it: sometimes my whole body has been affected, to the point of being raised up from the ground.

This has happened only rarely; but once, when we were together in choir, and I was on my knees and about to communicate, it caused me the greatest distress. It seemed to me a most extraordinary thing and I thought there would be a great deal of talk about it; so I ordered the nuns (for it happened after I was appointed Prioress) not to speak of it. On other occasions, when I have felt that the Lord was going to enrapture me (once it happened during a sermon, on our patronal festival, when some great ladies were present),[2] I have lain on the ground and the sisters have come and held me down, but none the less the rapture has been observed. I besought the Lord earnestly not to grant me any more favours which had visible and exterior signs; for I was exhausted by having to endure such worries and after all (I said) His Majesty could grant me that favour without its becoming known. He seems to have been pleased of His goodness to hear me, for since making that prayer I have never again received any such favours: it is true, however, that this happened not long since.

When I tried to resist these raptures, it seemed that I was being lifted up by a force beneath my feet so powerful that I know nothing to which I can compare it, for it came with a much greater vehemence than any other spiritual experience and I felt as if I were being ground to powder. It is a terrible struggle, and to continue it against the Lord's will avails very little, for no power can do anything against His. At other times His Majesty is graciously satisfied with our seeing that He desires to show us this favour, and that, if we do not receive it, it is not due to Himself. Then, if we resist it out of humility, the same effects follow as if we had given it our entire consent.

These effects are very striking. One of them is the manifestation of the Lord's mighty power: as we are unable to resist His Majesty's will, either in soul or in body, and are not our own masters, we realize that, however irksome this truth may be, there is One stronger than ourselves, and that these favours are bestowed by Him, and that we, of ourselves, can do absolutely nothing. This imprints in us great humility. Indeed, I confess that in me it produced great fear -- at first a terrible fear. One sees one's body being lifted up from the ground; and although the spirit draws it after itself, and if no resistance is offered does so very gently, one does not lose consciousness -- at least, I myself have had sufficient to enable me to realize that I was being lifted up. The majesty of Him Who can do this is manifested in such a way that the hair stands on end, and there is produced a great fear of offending so great a God, but a fear overpowered by[3] the deepest love, newly enkindled, for One Who, as we see, has so deep a love for so loathsome a worm that He seems not to be satisfied by literally drawing the soul to Himself, but will also have the body, mortal though it is, and befouled as is its clay by all the offenses it has committed.

This favour also leaves a strange detachment, the nature of which I cannot possibly describe, but I think I can say it is somewhat different -- from that produced by these purely spiritual favours, I mean; for, although these produce a complete detachment of spirit, in this favour the Lord is pleased that it should be shared by the very body and it will thus experience a new estrangement from things of earth, which makes life much more distressing. Afterwards it produces a distress which we cannot ourselves bring about or remove once it has come. I should like very much to explain this great distress, but I am afraid I cannot possibly do so: still, I will say something about it if I can.

It is to be observed that these are my most recent experiences, more recent than all the visions and revelations of which I shall write and than the period during which I practised prayer and the Lord granted me such great consolations and favours. Though these have not ceased, it is this distress which I shall now describe that I more frequently and habitually experience at present. Sometimes it is more severe and sometimes less so. It is of its maximum severity that I will now speak; for although I shall later describe those violent impulses which I used to experience when the Lord was pleased to grant me raptures, these, in my view, have no more connection with this distress than has an entirely physical experience with an entirely spiritual one, and in saying that I do not think I am greatly exaggerating. For, although the distress I refer to is felt by the soul, it is also felt by the body. Both seem to share in it, and it does not cause the same extreme sense of abandonment as does this. In producing the latter, as I have said, we can take no part, though very often a desire unexpectedly arises, in a way which I cannot explain. And this desire, which in a single moment penetrates to the very depths of the soul, begins to weary it so much that the soul soars upwards, far above itself and above all created things, and God causes it to be so completely bereft of everything that, however hard it may strive to do so, it can find nothing on earth to bear it company. Nor does it desire company; it would rather die in its solitude. Others may speak to it, and it may itself make every possible effort to speak, but all to no avail; do what it may, its spirit cannot escape from that solitude. God seems very far from the soul then, yet sometimes He reveals His greatness in the strangest way imaginable; this cannot be described -- nor, I think, believed or understood -- save by those who have experienced it. For it is a communication intended, not to comfort the soul but to show it the reason why it is wearied -- namely, that it is so far away from the Good which contains all that is good within Itself.

In this communication the desire grows, and with it the extremity of loneliness experienced by the soul with a distress so subtle and yet so piercing that, set as it is in that desert, it can, I think, say literally, as the Royal Prophet said, when he was in the same state of loneliness (except that, being a saint, he may have been granted that experience by the Lord in a higher degree): Vigilavi, et factus sum sicut passer solitarius in tecto.[4] That verse comes to my mind at these times in such a way that I feel it is fulfilled in myself; and it is a comfort to me to know that others, especially such a prophet as this, have experienced that great extremity of loneliness. The soul, then, seems to be, not in itself at all, but on the house top, or the roof, of its own house, and raised above all created things; I think it is far above even its own very highest part.

On other occasions the soul seems to be going about in a state of the greatest need, and asking itself: "Where is thy God?"[5] I should point out here that I did not know the meaning of this verse in the vernacular, and that later, when I had learned it, it was a comfort to me to think that the Lord had brought it to my mind without any effort of my own. At other times I used to remember some words of Saint Paul, about his being crucified to the world.[6] I do not say that this is true of me -- indeed, I know it is not -- but I think it is true of the soul when no comfort comes to it from Heaven, and it is not in Heaven, and when it desires no earthly comfort, and is not on earth either, but is, as it were, crucified between Heaven and earth; and it suffers greatly, for no help comes to it either from the one hand or from the other. For the help which comes to it from Heaven is, as I have said, a knowledge of God so wonderful, and so far above all that we can desire, that it brings with it greater torment; for its desire grows in such a way that I believe its great distress sometimes robs it of consciousness, though such a state as that lasts only for a short time. It seems as though it were on the threshold of death, save that this suffering brings with it such great happiness that I know of nothing with which it may be compared. It is a martyrdom, severe but also delectable; for the soul will accept nothing earthly that may be offered it, even though it were the thing which it had been accustomed to enjoy most: it seems to fling it away immediately. It realizes clearly that it wants nothing save its God; but its love is not centred upon any particular attribute of Him: its desire is for the whole of God and it has no knowledge of what it desires. By "no knowledge", I mean that no picture is formed in the imagination; and, in my opinion, for a great part of the time during which it is in that state, the faculties are inactive: they are suspended by their distress, just as in union and rapture they are suspended by joy.

O Jesus! I wish I could give Your Reverence a clear explanation of this, if only so that you might tell me what it is, for this is the state in which my soul now continually finds itself. As a rule, when not occupied, it is plunged into these death-like yearnings, and, when I am conscious that they are beginning, I become afraid, because they do not mean death. But when I am actually in that condition, I should like to spend the rest of my life suffering in that way, although the pain is so excessive that one can hardly bear it, and occasionally, according to those of my sisters who sometimes see me like this, and so now understand it better, my pulses almost cease to beat, my bones are all disjointed, and my hands are so stiff that sometimes I cannot clasp them together. Until the next day I have pains in the wrists, and in the entire body, as though my bones had been wrenched asunder.

Occasionally I really think that, if things are to go on like this, it must be the Lord's will to end them by putting an end to my life; for the distress I am in is severe enough to kill me, only I do not deserve that it should do so. All my yearning at such a time is to die: I do not think of purgatory, or of the great sins I have committed, for which I have deserved to go to hell. Such is my yearning to see God that I forget everything and the deserted and solitary state I am in seems better than all the world's companionship. If anything could comfort a person in this condition, it would be to speak with another who has passed through the same torment, for she finds that, despite her complaints of it, no one seems to believe her.

The soul in this state is also tormented because its distress has so greatly increased that it no longer desires solitude, as it did before, and the only companionship it seeks is with one to whom it can voice its complaint. It is like a person who has a rope around his neck, is being strangled and is trying to breathe. It seems to me, then, that this desire for companionship proceeds from human weakness; for, since this distress imperils our life, which it most certainly does (as I have said, I have several times found my own life imperilled by serious dangers and illnesses, and I think I might say that this particular peril is as grave as any), the desire that body and soul shall not be parted is like a voice crying out for help to breathe; and by speaking of it and complaining and distracting itself, the soul seeks a way to live quite contrarily to the will of the spirit, or of its own higher part, which would prefer not to escape from this distress.

I do not know if I am correct in what I say, or if I am expressing it properly, but to the best of my belief that is what happens. I ask Your Reverence, what rest can I have in this life, since the rest which I used to enjoy, and which consisted in prayer and solitude, wherein the Lord would comfort me, is habitually turned into this torment; and yet it is so delectable, and the soul is so conscious of its worth, that it desires it more than all the favours which it had been accustomed to enjoy. It believes it, too, to be a safer state, because it is the way of the Cross; and in my view it comprises a delight of exceeding worth, because the body gets nothing from it but distress, whereas the soul, even while suffering, rejoices alone in the joy and happiness which this suffering brings. I do not know how this can be, but so it is; and I believe I would not change this favour which the Lord is bestowing upon me (for it is certainly entirely supernatural and comes from His hand, and, as I have said, is in no way acquired by me) for any of the favours which I shall describe later: I do not say for all of them at once, but for any one of them taken by itself. And it must not be forgotten that this state, in which the Lord is now keeping me, has followed all the others described in this book: I mean that these violent impulses have followed the favours described here as having been bestowed upon me by the Lord.

At first I was afraid, as I almost always am when the Lord bestows a favour upon me, though His Majesty reassures me as I go on. He told me not to fear but to set greater store by this favour than by any other which He had granted me; for by this distress the soul was purified, worked upon and refined like gold in the crucible, so that He might the better set in it the enamel of His gifts: it was being cleansed now of the impurities of which it would need to be cleansed in purgatory. I had already quite clearly realized that it was a great favour, but this made me much more certain of the fact, and my confessor tells me that all is well. And although I was afraid, because I was so wicked, I could never believe that it was wrong; it was rather the sublimity of the blessing that made me afraid, when I remembered how ill I had deserved it. Blessed be the Lord, Who is so good! Amen.

I seem to have wandered from my subject, for I began by speaking of raptures, but what I have been describing is some thing even greater than a rapture and thus it leaves behind it the effects I have referred to.

Let us now return to raptures, and to their most usual characteristics. I can testify that after a rapture my body often seemed as light as if all weight had left it: sometimes this was so noticeable that I could hardly tell when my feet were touching the ground. For, while the rapture lasts, the body often remains as if dead and unable of itself to do anything: it continues all the time as it was when the rapture came upon it -- in a sitting position, for example, or with the hands open or shut. The subject rarely loses consciousness: I have sometimes lost it altogether, but only seldom and for but a short time. As a rule the consciousness is disturbed; and, though incapable of action with respect to outward things, the subject can still hear and understand, but only dimly, as though from a long way off. I do not say that he can hear and understand when the rapture is at its highest point -- by "highest point" I mean when the faculties are lost through being closely united with God. At that point, in my opinion, he will neither see, nor hear, nor perceive; but, as I said in describing the preceding prayer of union, this complete transformation of the soul in God lasts but a short time, and it is only while it lasts that none of the soul's faculties is able to perceive or know what is taking place. We cannot be meant to understand it while we are on earth -- God, in fact, does not wish us to understand it because we have not the capacity for doing so. I have observed this myself.

Your Reverence will ask me how it is that the rapture sometimes lasts for so many hours. What often happens to me is that, as I said of the preceding state of prayer, it makes itself felt intermittently. The soul is often engulfed -- or, to put it better, the Lord engulfs it in Himself -- and, when He has kept it in this state for a short time, He retains the will alone. The movements of the other two faculties seem to me like the movement of the pointer on a sundial, which is never motionless; though if it pleases the Sun of Justice[7] to do so, He can make it stand still. What I am describing lasts only a short time; but, as the impulse and the uplifting of the spirit have been violent, the will is still engulfed even when the other two faculties begin to move again and produces that operation in the body as though it were its absolute mistress. For, although the two restless faculties try to disturb it, the will, thinking that the fewer enemies it has, the better, prevents the senses from doing so, and thus causes their suspension, which is the Lord's will. For the most part the eyes are closed, though we may not wish to close them; if, as I have already said, they are occasionally open, the subject neither perceives nor pays attention to what he sees.

There is very little, then, that a person in this condition can do, and this means that there will be little for him to do when the faculties come together again. Anyone, therefore, to whom the Lord grants this favour must not be discouraged at finding himself in this state, with the body unable to move for hours on end and the understanding and the memory sometimes wandering. True, they are generally absorbed in the praises of God or in an attempt to comprehend and realize what has happened to them. But even so they are not wide awake: they are like a person who has been asleep for a long time and has been dreaming and has not yet fully awakened.

The reason I am expounding this at such great length is that I know that there are persons now, in this very place, to whom the Lord is granting these favours; and if those who are directing such persons have not themselves experienced them -- more especially if they have no learning -- they may think that, when enraptured, they ought to be as if dead. It is a shame that such suffering should be caused by confessors who do not understand this, as I shall say later. Perhaps I do not know what I am saying; but, if my words are at all to the point, Your Reverence will understand it, for the Lord has already given you experience of it, though, as this happened only recently, you may not have considered the matter as fully as I. The position, then, is that, however hard I try, my body, for considerable periods, has not the strength to make it capable of movement: all its strength has been taken away by the soul. Often a person who was previously quite ill and troubled with severe pain finds himself in good health again, and even stronger than before, for what the soul receives in rapture is a great gift, and sometimes, as I say, the Lord is pleased that the body should have a share in it because of its obedience to the will of the soul. After the recovery of consciousness, if the rapture has been deep, the faculties may remain absorbed for a day or two, or even for as long as three days, and be as if in a state of stupor, so that they seem to be no longer themselves.

And now comes the distress of having to return to this life. Now the soul has grown new wings and has learned to fly. Now the little bird has lost its unformed feathers. Now in Christ's name the standard is raised on high; it would seem that what has happened is nothing less than that the captain of the fortress has mounted, or has been led up, to the highest of its towers, and has reared the standard aloft there in the name of God. From his position of security he looks down on those below. No longer does he fear perils; rather he desires them, for through them, as it were, he receives the assurance of victory. This becomes very evident in the little weight now given by the soul to earthly matters, which it treats as the worthless things that they are. He who is raised on high[8] attains many things. The soul has no desire to seek or possess any free will, even if it so wished,[9] and it is for this that it prays to the Lord, giving Him the keys of its will. Behold, our gardener has become the captain of a fortress! He wants nothing save the will of the Lord; he wants to be neither his own master nor anybody else's; he wants not so much as an apple from this orchard. If there is anything of value in it, let His Majesty distribute it; henceforth, for himself, he wants nothing, and desires only that everything should be done to God's glory and in conformity with His will.

It is in this way, then, that these things actually happen, if the raptures are genuine, in which case there will remain in the soul the effects and advantages aforementioned. If they do not, I should doubt very much if they are from God; indeed, I should fear that they might be the frenzies described by Saint Vincent.[10] I know, for I have observed it in my own experience, that the soul, while enraptured, is mistress of everything, and in a single hour, or in less, acquires such freedom that it cannot recognize itself. It sees clearly that this state is in no way due to itself, nor does it know who has given it so great a blessing, but it distinctly recognizes the very great benefit which each of these raptures brings it. Nobody will believe this without having had experience of it; and so nobody believes the poor soul, knowing it to have been so wicked and seeing it now aspiring to such heroic acts; for it is no longer content with serving the Lord a little but must do so to the greatest extent in its power. They think this is a temptation and a ridiculous thing. If they knew that it arises, not from the soul, but from the Lord, to Whom the soul has given the keys of its will, they would not be so astounded.

I believe myself that a soul which attains to this state neither speaks nor does anything of itself, but that this sovereign King takes care of all that it has to do. Oh, my God, how clear is the meaning of that verse about asking for the wings of a dove[11] and how right the author was -- and how right we shall all be! -- to ask for them! It is evident that he is referring to the flight taken by the spirit when it soars high above all created things, and above itself first of all; but it is a gentle and a joyful flight and also a silent one.

What power is that of a soul brought hither by the Lord, which can look upon everything without being ensnared by it! How ashamed it is of the time when it was attached to everything! How amazed it is at its blindness! How it pities those who are still blind, above all if they are persons of prayer to whom God is still granting favours! It would like to cry aloud to them and show them how mistaken they are, and sometimes it does in fact do so and brings down a thousand persecutions upon its head. Men think it lacking in humility and suppose that it is trying to teach those from whom it should learn, especially if the person in question is a woman. For this they condemn it, and rightly so, since they know nothing of the force by which it is impelled. Sometimes it cannot help itself nor endure failing to undeceive those whom it loves and desires to see set free from the prison of this life; for it is in a prison, nothing less -- and it realizes that it is nothing less -- that the soul has itself been living.

It is weary of the time when it paid heed to niceties concerning its own honour, and of the mistaken belief which it had that what the world calls honour is really so. It now knows that to be a sheer lie and a lie in which we are all living. It realizes that genuine honour is not deceptive, but true; that it values what has worth and despises what has none; for what passes away, and is not pleasing to God, is worth nothing and less than nothing.[12] It laughs at itself and at the time when it set any store by money and coveted it; though I do not believe I ever had to confess to being covetous of money -- it was quite bad enough that I should have set any store by it at all. If the blessing of which I now see myself in possession could be purchased with money I should set tremendous store by it, but it is clear that this blessing is gained by abandoning everything.

What is there that can be bought with this money which people desire? Is there anything valuable? Is there anything lasting? If not, why do we desire it? It is but a miserable ease with which it provides us and one that costs us very dear. Very often it provides hell for us; it buys us eternal fire and endless affliction. Oh, if all would agree to consider it as useless dross, how well the world would get on, and how little trafficking there would be! How friendly we should all be with one another if nobody were interested in money and honour! I really believe this would be a remedy for everything.

The soul sees what blindness there is in the world where pleasures are concerned and how even in this life they purchase only trials and unrest. What disquiet! What discontent! What useless labour! Not only does the soul perceive the cobwebs which disfigure it and its own great faults, but so bright is the sunlight that it sees every little speck of dust, however small; and so, however hard a soul may have laboured to perfect itself, once this Sun really strikes it, it sees that it is wholly unclean. Just so the water in a vessel seems quite clear when the sun is not shining upon it; but the sun shows it to be full of specks. This comparison is literally exact. Before the soul had experienced that state of ecstasy, it thought it was being careful not to offend God and doing all that it could so far as its strength permitted. But once it reaches this stage, the Sun of Justice strikes it and forces it to open its eyes, whereupon it sees so many of these specks that it would fain close them again. For it is not yet so completely the child of that mighty eagle that it can look this Sun full in the face; nevertheless, during the short time that it can keep them open, it sees that it is wholly unclean. It remembers the verse which says: "Who shall be just in Thy presence?"[13]

When it looks upon this Divine Sun, the brightness dazzles it; when it looks at itself, its eyes are blinded by clay.[14] The little dove is blind. And very often it remains completely blind, absorbed, amazed, and dazzled by all the wonders it sees. From this it acquires true humility, which will never allow it to say anything good of itself nor will permit others to do so.[15] It is the Lord of the garden, and not the soul, that distributes the fruit of the garden, and so nothing remains in its hands, but all the good that is in it is directed towards God; if it says anything about itself, it is for His glory. It knows that it possesses[16] nothing here; and, even if it so wishes, it cannot ignore this; for it sees it by direct vision, and, willy-nilly, shuts its eyes to things of the world, and opens them to an understanding of the truth.

CHAPTER XXI

Continues and ends the account of this last degree of prayer. Describes the feelings of the soul in this state on its return to life in the world and the light which the Lord sheds for it on the world's delusions. Contains good doctrine.

Concluding the matter under discussion, I remark that in this state there is no need for the soul to give its consent: it has given it already and knows that it has surrendered itself willingly into His hands and that He cannot deceive it because He knows all things. This is not as it is in the world, where life is full of delusions and deceits; you judge by the profession of friendship which a man makes that you have gained his good will, and then realize that the profession was a false one. No one can live amid such worldly trafficking, especially if he has himself any interest in the world. Blessed is the soul which the Lord brings to an understanding of the truth! Oh, what a state this would be for kings! How much better it would be for them if they strove after it rather than after great dominion! What uprightness there would be in their kingdoms! How many evils would be prevented -- and might have been prevented already! Here no one fears to lose life or honour for the love of God. How great a blessing would such a state be for one who is more bound than those beneath him to consider the Lord's honour -- kings will always lead and the people will follow! For the sake of the smallest increase in the number of the faithful and for the privilege of affording heretics the smallest glimmer of light, I would give up a thousand kingdoms, and rightly so. For it is a different thing to win a kingdom that shall have no end, because a single drop of the water of that kingdom gives him who tastes it a loathing for everything earthly. What will it be, then, when the soul is completely engulfed in such water?

O Lord, if Thou wert to give me the vocation to proclaim this aloud, I should be disbelieved, as are many who can speak of it in a way very different from mine. But at least I should myself have satisfaction. If I could make others understand a single one of these truths I think I should set little store by my own life. I do not know what I should do afterwards, for I am entirely untrustworthy; despite my being the sort of person I am, I keep experiencing strong and consuming impulses to say this to persons in authority. But as I can do no more, my Lord, I turn to Thee, to beg of Thee a remedy for everything, and well dost Thou know that, provided I remain in such a state as not to offend Thee, I would very gladly strip myself of the favours Thou hast granted me and give them to kings; for I know that, if they had them, it would be impossible for them to permit things which they permit now, or to fail to possess the greatest blessings.

O my God! Give them to understand how great are their obligations. For Thou hast been pleased to single them out on earth in such a way that, as I have heard, when Thou dost remove one of them, Thou even showest signs in the heavens. Enkindled indeed, is my devotion, O my King, when I reflect that it is Thy will that this should teach them that they must imitate Thee in their lives, since at their deaths there are such signs in the heavens as there were when Thou Thyself didst die.

I am being very bold. Your Reverence must destroy this if you think it wrong. But, believe me, I should say it better in the very presence of kings if I had the opportunity of doing so or thought they would believe me, for I commend them earnestly to God and wish that I might be of some profit to them. All this prompts one to risk one's life (and I often wish I could lose mine): for the risk would be a small one to run for so great a gain, and life becomes hardly possible when with one's own eyes one sees the great delusion in which we are walking and the blind way in which we act.

When a soul has reached this state, it has not merely desires to serve God: His Majesty also gives it strength to carry these desires into effect. No way in which it thinks it may serve God can be set before it into which it will not fling itself; and yet it is doing nothing, because, as I say, it sees clearly that nothing is of any value save pleasing God. The trouble is that no such task presents itself to people who are as worthless as I. May it be Thy pleasure, my God, that the time may come in which I shall be able to pay at least a few mites[17] of all I owe Thee; do Thou ordain it, Lord, according to Thy pleasure, that this Thy handmaiden may in some way serve Thee. There have been other women who have done heroic deeds for love of Thee. I myself am fit only to talk and therefore, my God, it is not Thy good pleasure to test me by actions. All my will to serve Thee peters out in words and desires, and even here I have no freedom, for it is always possible that I may fail altogether.

Do Thou strengthen and prepare my soul first of all, Good of all good, my Jesus, and do Thou then ordain means whereby I may do something for Thee, for no one could bear to receive as much as I have done and pay nothing in return. Cost what it may, Lord, permit me not to come into Thy presence with such empty hands, since a man's reward must be in accordance with his works.[18] Here is my life; here is my honour and my will. I have given it all to Thee; I am Thine; dispose of me according to Thy desire. Well do I know, my Lord, of how little I am capable. But now that I have approached Thee, now that I have mounted this watch-tower whence truths can be seen, I shall be able to do all things provided Thou withdraw not from me. Withdraw Thou, and, for however short a time, I shall go where I have already been -- namely, to hell.

Oh, what it is for a soul which finds itself in this state to have to return to intercourse with all, to look at this farce of a life and see how ill-organized it is, to spend its time in meeting the needs of the body, in sleeping and in eating. It is wearied by everything; it cannot run away; it sees itself chained and captive; and it is then that it feels most keenly the imprisonment into which we are led by our bodies and the misery of this life. It understands why Saint Paul besought God to deliver him from it;[19] it joins its cries to his; and, as I have said on other occasions, it begs God for freedom. But in this state it often cries with such vehemence that it seems as if the soul is desirous of leaving the body and going in search of that freedom, since no one is delivering it. It wanders about like one who has been sold into a strange land; its chief trouble is finding so few to join in its complaints and prayers, since as a rule men desire to live. Oh, were we but completely detached and were our happiness not fixed on things of earth, how the distress caused us by living all the time without God would temper our fear of death with the desire to enjoy true life!

I sometimes wonder, if a woman like myself, to whom the Lord has given this light, but whose charity is so lukewarm and whose works have not won for her any certainty of true rest, is nevertheless so often sad at finding herself in this exile, what the sorrow of the saints must have been. What must Saint Paul and the Magdalen have suffered, and others like them, in whom this fire of the love of God burned so vehemently? Their sufferings must have been one continuous martyrdom. I think any relief I obtain, and any desire I have for intercourse with others, is due to my finding people with these desires -- I mean desires coupled with works. I say "with works" because there are people who think and proclaim themselves to be detached -- and who must be so, for it is required by their vocation and certified by the many years that have passed since some of them began to walk in the way of perfection. Yet this soul of mine can distinguish from a long way off, and quite clearly, those who are detached only in word, and whose words are confirmed by their works; for it knows how little good is done by the one class and how much by the other; and this is a thing which can be very clearly discerned by anyone with experience.

We have now described the effects proceeding from raptures which come from the Spirit of God. It is true that some of these are greater and some less: by "less" I mean that, although these effects are produced, they are not at first expressed in works and it may not become evident that the soul has them. Perfection, too, has to grow; the cobwebs have to be brushed away from the memory; and this takes some time. And the more love and humility grow in the soul, the greater is the fragrance yielded by these flowers of the virtues for the benefit both of the soul itself and of others. The fact is that, during one of these raptures, the Lord can work in the soul in such a way that there remains little for it to do in order to acquire perfection. For, except by experience, no one will ever believe what the Lord bestows on the soul here; no efforts of ours, in my opinion, can acquire it. I do not mean that those who work hard for many years, in the ways described by writers on prayer, following their principles and using their methods, will not, after much labour, and with the help of the Lord, attain to detachment and perfection. But they will not do so as speedily as by means of raptures, in which the Lord works without our collaboration and draws the soul away from the earth and gives it dominion over all earthly things, although there may be no more merits in such a soul than there were in mine -- and I cannot say more than that, for I had hardly any.

The reason His Majesty does this is that it is His will, and it is according as He wills that He does it; and, though the soul may not be prepared, His Majesty prepares it to receive the blessing which He is giving it. Although He most certainly never fails to comfort those who make proper preparation and strive after detachment, He does not always bestow blessings because the recipients have deserved them by cultivating their garden. It is sometimes His will, as I have said, to manifest His greatness in the worst kind of soil; He prepares it for every blessing, so that it seems almost as if it would be impossible for the soul to return to the life of sin against God which it had lived previously. Its mind is now so used to thinking upon eternal truth that anything else seems to it mere child's play. It sometimes enjoys a quiet laugh when it sees serious people -- men of prayer, leading the religious life -- making a great fuss about niceties concerning their honour, which it has long since trampled beneath its feet. They say that discretion demands this and that the more they have of the authority due to their positions the more good they can do. But the soul knows very well that if they subordinated the authority due to their positions to the love of God they would do more good in a day than they are likely to do as it is in ten years.

So the life of this soul continues -- a troubled life, never without its crosses, but a life of great growth. Those with whom the soul has to do keep thinking it has reached its summit, but soon afterwards they find it higher still, for God is always giving it new favours. It is God Who is the soul of that soul; and, as He has it in His keeping, He sheds His light upon it. He seems to be continually watching over it, lest it should offend Him, and assisting and awakening it to serve Him. When my soul reached the point at which God began to grant me this great favour, my troubles ceased, and the Lord gave me strength to escape from them. Meeting occasions of sin and being with people who were wont to distract me had now no more effect upon me than if they had not been there. Indeed, what had previously been apt to harm me now became a help to me; everything was a means by which I was enabled to know and love God the better, to realize what I owed Him and to be grieved at having been what I once was.

I knew quite well that none of this was due to myself and that I had not won it by my own efforts, for there had not been time enough for me to do that. His Majesty had given me the needful strength out of His own goodness. From the time when the Lord began to grant me the favour of these raptures, until now, this strength has continued to increase, and God of His goodness has held me by His hand so that I should not turn back. This being so, I realize that I am doing hardly anything of myself; I understand clearly that it is all the work of the Lord. I think, therefore, that souls on whom the Lord bestows these favours, and who walk in humility and fear, ever realizing that all is due to the Lord Himself and in no wise to our efforts, may safely mix with any kind of company whatsoever. However distracting and vicious such company may be, it will have no effect on them nor will it in any way move them; on the contrary, as I have said, it will help them and be a means whereby they may derive the greater profit. It is strong souls that are chosen by the Lord to profit others, though their strength does not come from themselves. For, when the Lord brings a soul to this state, He gradually communicates to it very great secrets.

In this state of ecstasy occur true revelations, great favours and visions, all of which are of service in humbling and strengthening the soul and helping it to despise the things of this life and to gain a clearer knowledge of the reward which the Lord has prepared for those who serve Him. May it please His Majesty that the immense bounty with which He has treated this miserable sinner may do something to influence those who read this, so that they may find strength and courage to give up absolutely everything for God's sake! If His Majesty requites us so amply that even in this life we have a clear vision of the reward and the gain of those who serve Him, what will He not do in the life to come?

CHAPTER XXII

Describes how safe a practice it is for contemplatives not to uplift their spirits to lofty things if they are not so uplifted by the Lord, and how the path leading to the most exalted contemplation must be the Humanity of Christ. Tells of an occasion on which she was herself deceived. This chapter is very profitable.

There is one thing that I want to say, if Your Reverence thinks it well that I should do so, as in my opinion it is important. It will serve as what may be necessary advice; for there are some books written about prayer which say that, although of itself the soul cannot reach this state, since the work wrought in it by the Lord is entirely supernatural, it can get some way towards it by raising the spirit above all created things and causing it to rise aloft in humility after it has spent some years in the Purgative life and made progress in the Illuminative. I do not know why they call it Illuminative but I understand it to mean the life of those who are making progress. And these books advise us earnestly to put aside all corporeal imagination and to approach the contemplation of the Divinity. For they say that anything else, even Christ's Humanity, will hinder or impede those who have arrived so far from attaining to the most perfect contemplation. They quote the words of the Lord on this subject to the Apostles with regard to the coming of the Holy Spirit[20] -- I mean, after He had ascended into Heaven. But it seems to me that if they had then had faith, as they had after the Holy Spirit came, to believe that He was God and Man, it would have been no hindrance to them: for this was not said to the Mother of God, though she loved Him more than all the rest.[21] But these writers think that, as this work is entirely spiritual, anything corporeal may disturb or impede it, and that what contemplatives must contrive to do is to think of themselves as circumscribed, but of God as being everywhere, so that they may become absorbed in Him. It will be all right, I think, to do this sometimes, but I cannot bear the idea that we must withdraw ourselves entirely from Christ and treat that Divine Body of His as though it were on a level with our miseries and with all created things. May His Majesty grant me the ability to explain myself.[22]

I do not contradict this view, for it is held by learned and spiritual men, who know what they are saying, and God leads souls along many roads and by many ways, as He has led mine. It is of mine that I now wish to speak, without interfering with the souls of others, and of the danger in which I found myself through trying to fall into line with what I read. I can well believe that anyone who attains to union and goes no farther -- I mean, to raptures and visions and other favours granted to souls by God -- will think that view to be the best, as I did myself. But if I had acted upon it, I do not think I should ever have reached my present state, for I believe it to be mistaken. It may, of course, be I who am mistaken -- but I will relate what happened to me.

As I had no director, I used to read these books, and gradually began to think I was learning something. I found out later that, if the Lord had not taught me, I could have learned little from books, for until His Majesty taught it me by experience what I learned was nothing at all; I did not even know what I was doing. When I began to gain some experience of supernatural prayer -- I mean of the Prayer of Quiet -- I tried to put aside everything corporeal, though I dared not lift up my soul, for, being always so wicked, I saw that to do this would be presumption. But I thought I was experiencing the presence of God, as proved to be true, and I contrived to remain with Him in a state of recollection. This type of prayer, if God has a part in it, is full of delight, and brings great joy. And in view of the advantage I was deriving from it and the pleasure it was bringing me, no one could have made me return to meditation on the Humanity -- on the contrary, this really seemed to me a hindrance. O Lord of my soul and my Good, Jesus Christ crucified! Never once do I recall this opinion which I held without a feeling of pain: I believe I was committing an act of high treason, though I committed it in ignorance.

All my life I had been greatly devoted to Christ (for this happened quite recently: by "recently" I mean before the Lord granted me these favours -- these raptures and visions),[23] so I remained of this opinion only for a very short time and then returned to my habit of continually rejoicing in the Lord. Especially when communicating, I would wish I had His portrait and image always before my eyes, since I could not have it as deeply engraven on my soul as I should like. Is it possible, my Lord, that for so much as an hour I could have entertained the thought that Thou couldst hinder my greatest good? Whence have all good things come to me save from Thee? I do not want to think that I was to blame for this, for I grieve greatly about it and it was certainly a matter of ignorance. So Thou, in Thy goodness, wert pleased to bring it to an end by giving me one who would cure me of this error,[24] and afterwards by permitting me often to see Thee, as I shall relate hereafter, so that I might clearly realize how great my error was and tell many people of it, as I have done, and set it all down here and now.

I believe myself that this is the reason why many souls, after succeeding in experiencing the Prayer of Union, do not make further progress and achieve a very great spiritual freedom. There are two reasons, I think, on which I can found my opinion; there may, of course, be nothing in it, but what I say I have observed in my own experience, for my soul was in a very bad way until the Lord gave it light: all the joys it had experienced had come in little sips, and, once these were over, it never experienced any companionship, as it did later, at times of trial and temptation. One of these reasons is that the soul is somewhat lacking in humility and that what it has is so completely disguised and hidden as not to be noticed. Who can there be, like myself, so miserably proud that, when he has laboured all his life long over every imaginable kind of penance and prayer and suffered every kind of persecution, he does not count himself very wealthy and very abundantly rewarded if the Lord allows him to stand with Saint John, at the foot of the Cross? I cannot imagine how it can enter anyone's head not to be contented with this; yet I myself was not, and I have lost in every respect where I ought to have gained.

It may be that our temperament, or some indisposition, will not always allow us to think of the Passion, because of its painfulness; but what can prevent us from being with Him in His Resurrection Body, since we have Him so near us in the Sacrament, where He is already glorified? Here we shall not see Him wearied and broken in body, streaming with blood, exhausted by journeying, persecuted by those to whom He was doing such good, disbelieved by the Apostles. Certainly it is not always that one can bear to think of such great trials as those which He suffered. But here we can behold Him free from pain, full of glory, strengthening some, encouraging others, ere He ascends to the Heavens. In the Most Holy Sacrament He is our Companion and it would seem impossible for Him to leave us for a moment. And yet it was possible for me to leave Thee, my Lord, in the hope that I might serve Thee better! True, when I offended Thee, I knew Thee not, but to think that, when I did know Thee, I could suppose it possible that in such a way I should gain more! How mistaken, Lord, was the path I followed! Indeed, I think I should be following no path at all hadst Thou not brought me back to it. For when I see Thee near me I have seen all blessings. No trial has come to me that I cannot gladly bear when I look at Thee as Thou stoodest before Thy judges. With so good a Friend, so good a Captain at our side, Who came forward first of all to suffer, one can bear everything. He helps us; He gives us strength; He never fails; He is a true Friend.

I can see clearly, and since that time have always seen, that it is God's will, if we are to please Him and He is to grant us great favours, that this should be done through His most sacred Humanity, in Whom, His Majesty said, He is well pleased. Very, very many times have I learned this by experience: the Lord has told it me. I have seen clearly that it is by this door that we must enter if we wish His Sovereign Majesty to show us great secrets. Therefore, Sir,[25] even if you reach the summit of contemplation Your Reverence must seek no other way: that way alone is safe. It is through this Lord of ours that all blessings come. He will show us the way; we must look at His life -- that is our best pattern. What more do we need than to have at our side so good a Friend, Who will not leave us in trials and tribulations, as earthly friends do? Blessed is he who loves Him in truth and has Him always at his side. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul, from whose lips the name of Jesus seems never to have been absent, because He was firmly enshrined in his heart. Since realizing this, I have looked carefully at the lives of a number of saints who were great contemplatives and I find that they followed exactly the same road. Saint Francis, with his stigmata, illustrates this, as does Saint Anthony of Padua with the Divine Infant. Saint Bernard, too, delighted in Christ's Humanity, and so did Saint Catherine of Siena and many others of whom Your Reverence will know better than I.

This withdrawal from the corporeal must doubtless be good, since it is advised by such spiritual people, but my belief is that it must be practised only when the soul is very proficient: until then, it is clear, the Creator must be sought through the creatures. All this has to do with the grace which the Lord bestows on every soul: into that matter I will not enter. What I should like to make clear is that Christ's most sacred Humanity must not be reckoned among these corporeal objects. Let that point be clearly understood: I wish I knew how to explain it.

When God is pleased to suspend all the faculties, as we have seen that He does in the modes of prayer already described, it is clear that, though we may not desire it to be so, this Presence is taken from us. At such a time as that, let this be done. Blessed is such a loss, since it brings with it the enjoyment of more than we seem to have sacrificed; for the soul can then employ itself wholly in loving One Whom the understanding has been striving hard to know; it loves what it has not comprehended and rejoices in that of which it could not have such great fruition save by losing itself, in order, as I say, the better to gain itself. But that we should exert care and skill to accustom ourselves not to endeavour with all our strength to have always before us -- and the Lord grant it be always! -- this most sacred Humanity, it is that, I say, which seems to me not to be right. The soul is left, as the phrase has it, in the air; for it has nothing to lean upon, however full it may think itself to be of God. It is a great thing for us, while we live as human beings, to have before us Christ's Humanity. This is that other inconvenience to which I have already referred. The first, which I was beginning to speak about earlier, is a certain lack of humility, a desire on the soul's part to rise before the Lord raises it, a dissatisfaction with merely meditating on something so precious, and a longing to be Mary before one has laboured with Martha. When the Lord wishes one to be Mary, there is no need for fear, even on the very first day, but we must go carefully about it, as I believe I have said already. This little mote of deficient humility, though it seems to be of no importance, does a great deal of harm to those who wish to make progress in contemplation.

To come now to the second point: we are not angels and we have bodies. To want to become angels while we are still on earth, and as much on earth as I was, is ridiculous. As a rule, our thoughts must have something to lean upon, though sometimes the soul may go out from itself and very often may be so full of God that it will need no created thing to assist it in recollection. But this is not very usual: when we are busy, or suffering persecutions or trials, when we cannot get as much quiet as we should like, and at seasons of aridity, we have a very good Friend in Christ. We look at Him as a Man; we think of His moments of weakness and times of trial; and He becomes our Companion. Once we have made a habit of thinking of Him in this way, it becomes very easy to find Him at our side, though there will come times when it is impossible to do either the one thing or the other. For that reason it is advisable to do as I have already said: we must not show ourselves to be striving after spiritual consolations; come what may, the great thing for us to do is to embrace the Cross. The Lord was deprived of all consolation; they left Him alone in His trials. Let us not leave Him; for His hand will help us to rise more effectually than our own efforts; and He will withdraw Himself when He sees that it is good for us and when He is pleased to draw the soul out of itself, as I have said.

God is well pleased to see a soul humbly taking His Son as Mediator, and yet loving Him so much that, even if His Majesty is pleased to raise it to the highest contemplation, as I have said, it realizes its unworthiness, and says with Saint Peter: "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."[26] I have proved this, for it is in this way that God has led my soul. Others, as I have said, will take another and a shorter road. What I have learned is this: that the entire foundation of prayer must be established in humility, and that, the more a soul abases itself in prayer, the higher God raises it. I do not remember that He has ever granted me any of the outstanding favours of which I shall speak later save when I have been consumed with shame by realizing my own wickedness; and His Majesty has even managed to help me to know myself by revealing to me things which I myself could not have imagined. I believe myself that, when a soul does anything to further its own progress in this Prayer of Union, it may seem to be deriving some immediate benefit but will very quickly fall again, because it has not laid the proper foundations. Indeed, I fear it will never attain to true poverty of spirit, which consists in seeking, not comfort or pleasure in prayer (for it has already abandoned earthly comforts and pleasures), but consolation in trials for the love of Him Who suffered trials all His life long; and we must endure these trials, and be calm amidst aridities, though we may feel some regret at having to suffer them. They should not cause us the unrest and distress which they cause some people who think that, if they are not for ever labouring with the understanding and striving after feelings of devotion, they are going completely astray, as if by so labouring they were meriting some great blessing. I do not mean that these things should not be sought after, or that we should not be careful how we approach the presence of God, but merely that, as I have said elsewhere, we must not worry ourselves to death if we cannot think one single good thought. We are unprofitable servants:[27] what do we suppose it is in our power to accomplish?

But it is the Lord's will that we should know this and be like the little donkeys that draw the above-described waterwheel. Though their eyes are shut and they have no idea what they are doing, these donkeys will draw more water than the gardener can with all his efforts. After placing ourselves in the hands of God, we must walk along this road quite freely. If His Majesty is pleased to promote us to be among those of His chamber and privy council, we must go with Him willingly; if He is not, we must serve Him in lowly offices and not sit down in the best places, as I have said elsewhere. God cares for us better than we can care for ourselves and He knows of what each of us is capable. What is the use of governing oneself if one has surrendered one's whole will to God? In my view this is much less tolerable here than in the first degree of prayer and does much greater harm: these blessings are supernatural. If a man has a bad voice, however often he forces himself to sing, he will never make it a good one; whereas, if God is pleased to give him a good one, he has no need to practise singing.[28] Let us, then, continually beseech Him to grant us favours, resigned in spirit and yet trusting in God's greatness. Since the soul is given leave to sit at Christ's feet, let it contrive not to stir thence; let it remain where it will; and let it imitate the Magdalen, and, when it is strong, God will lead it into the desert.

Your Reverence must be satisfied with this until you find someone who has more experience and more knowledge of the matter than I. When people tell you that they are beginning to taste of God, do not believe them if they think they are making more progress and receiving more consolations by making efforts of their own. Oh, how well God can reveal Himself, when it is His will to do so, without these puny efforts of ours! Do what we may, He transports the spirit as easily as a giant might take up a straw, and it is useless for us to resist Him. What a strange kind of belief is this, that, when God has willed that a toad should fly, He should wait for it to do so by its own efforts. And it seems to me that for our spirits to be lifted up is a more difficult and troublesome matter even than this if God does not lift them up for us. For they are weighed down by the earth and by a thousand impediments, and the fact that they want to fly is of no help to them; for, though flying comes more naturally to them than to a toad, they are so completely sunk in the mire that through their own fault they have lost the ability.

I will conclude, then, by saying that, whenever we think of Christ, we should remember with what love He has bestowed all these favours upon us, and how great is the love which God has revealed to us in giving us such a pledge of the love which He bears us; for love begets love. And though we may be only beginners, and very wicked, let us strive ever to bear this in mind and awaken our own love, for, if once the Lord grants us the favour of implanting this love in our hearts, everything will be easy for us and we shall get things done in a very short time and with very little labour. May His Majesty give us this love, since He knows how much we need it, for the sake of the love which He bore us and through His glorious Son, Who revealed it to us at such great cost to Himself. Amen.

One thing which I should like to ask Your Reverence is this. How is it, when the Lord begins to grant a soul such sublime favours as that of bringing it to perfect contemplation, that it does not, as by rights it should, become perfect all at once? By rights there is no doubt that it should, for anyone who receives so great a favour ought not to seek any further comforts on earth. Why is it, then, that raptures, and the soul's growing habituation to the receiving of favours, seem to produce results of great and growing sublimity -- and the more detached the soul becomes the sublimer they are -- when the Lord might leave the soul completely sanctified in the same moment that He comes to it? How is it that it is only later, as time goes on, that the same Lord leaves it perfect in the virtues? I want to know the reason of this, for I am quite ignorant of it. What I do know is that there is a great difference between the degree of fortitude bestowed by God in the early stages of rapture, when this favour lasts no longer than the twinkling of an eye and, save for the effects which it leaves, is hardly noticed, and in the later stages, when it is bestowed in more bountiful measure. And I often think that the reason may be that the soul does not at once completely prepare itself for this, but that the Lord gradually trains it, and gives it determination and manly strength so that it may trample everything under its feet. It was thus that He dealt with the Magdalen, doing His work in her very quickly; and it is thus that He deals with other people, according to the way in which they allow His Majesty to work. We cannot bring ourselves to realize that even in this life God rewards us a hundredfold.

I have also been thinking of the comparison which follows. Assuming that what is given to the most advanced soul is the same as what is given to beginners, it is like food shared by many people; those who eat very little of it experience the pleasant taste only for a short time; those who eat more derive some sustenance from it; while those who eat a great deal derive life and strength. It is possible to eat of this food of life so frequently and with such satisfaction as to derive no pleasure from eating any other. For the soul sees how much good it is deriving from it and its palate is now so completely accustomed to its sweetness that it would rather not live than have to eat any other food, for that would do nothing but spoil the pleasant taste left by the good food. Again, the companionship of good people does not afford us such profitable conversation in one day as in many; and if we have the help of God and are long enough in their company, we may become like them. In fact, everything depends upon His Majesty's good pleasure and upon the person on whom He wishes to bestow this favour. But it is very important that anyone who is beginning to receive it should resolve to detach himself from everything else and hold it in due esteem.

I think, too, that His Majesty goes about seeking to prove who the people are that love Him -- whether this person does, or that person -- and reveals Himself to us with the sublimest joy, so as to quicken our faith, if it is dead, concerning what He will give us. "See," He says, "this is but a drop in a vast sea of blessings"; for He leaves nothing undone for those He loves, and, when He sees that they accept His gifts, He gives -- and gives Himself. He loves every one who loves Him -- and how well loved He is[29] and how good a Friend! Oh, Lord of my soul, if only one had words to explain what Thou givest to those that trust in Thee, and what is lost by those who reach this state and yet do not give themselves to Thee![30] It is not Thy will, Lord, that this should be so, for Thou doest more than this when Thou comest to a lodging as wretched as mine. Blessed be Thou for ever and ever!

I beseech Your Reverence once more, if you discuss these things that I have written about prayer with spiritual persons, to be sure they are really spiritual. For if they know only one path, or have gone half-way and then remained where they are, they will not be able to discover what it all means. There are some, of course, whom God leads by a very exalted road; and these think that others can make progress in the same way -- by quieting the understanding and making no use of corporeal aids to devotion -- but if such persons act thus they will remain as dry as sticks. There are others who have attained a certain degree of quiet and at once think that, as they have done this, they can do everything else. But, instead of gaining in this way, they will lose, as I have said. So experience and discretion are necessary in everything. May the Lord give us these of His goodness.

CHAPTER XXIII

Resumes the description of the course of her life and tells how and by what means she began to aim at greater perfection. It is of advantage for persons who are concerned in the direction of souls that practise prayer to know how they must conduct themselves in the early stages. The profit that she herself gained thereby.

I will now return to the place where I left off the description of my life, for I have digressed -- longer, I think, than I ought -- in order that what is to come may be the better understood. From this point onward, I am speaking of another and a new book -- I mean, of another and a new life. Until now the life I was describing was my own; but the life I have been living since I began to expound these matters concerning prayer is the life which God has been living in me -- or so it has seemed to me. For I believe it to be impossible in so short a time to escape from such wicked deeds and habits. Praised be the Lord, Who has delivered me from myself!

Now when I began to avoid occasions of sin and to devote myself more to prayer, the Lord began to bestow favors upon me and it looked as though He were desirous that I should wish to receive them. His Majesty began to grant me quite frequently the Prayer of Quiet, and often, too, the Prayer of Union, which lasted for a long time. As there have been cases recently in which women have been subjected by the devil to serious illusions and deceptions,[31] I began to be afraid, for the delight and the sweetness which I felt were so great and often I could not help feeling them. But on the other hand I was conscious of a very deep inward assurance that this was of God, especially when I was engaged in prayer, and I found that I was the better for it and developed greater fortitude. But as soon as I became a little distracted, I would grow afraid again and begin to wonder if it was the devil who wanted to suspend my understanding, and make me believe it was a good thing, so that he might deprive me of mental prayer, and prevent me from thinking of the Passion and making use of my understanding. It seemed to me that I was losing rather than gaining, but I did not understand the matter properly.

As His Majesty, however, was now pleased to give me light so that I should not offend Him and should understand how much I owed Him, my fear increased, to such an extent that it made me seek diligently after spiritual persons with whom to discuss this. I already knew of some, for the Fathers of the Company of Jesus had come here,[32] and, though I was unacquainted with any of them, I was attracted to them by my knowledge of their method of life and prayer alone. But I did not consider myself worthy to speak to them or strong enough to obey them and this made me still more afraid; for I felt that it would be unthinkable[33] for me to discuss these matters with them and yet remain as I was.

I went on for some time in this way, until, after experiencing much inward strife and many fears, I determined to have a talk with a spiritual person, to ask him what that kind of prayer was which I was practising and to make it clear to me if I was going astray. I also determined to do all I could not to offend God, for, as I have said, my lack of fortitude, of which I was so conscious, made me very timid. God help me, what a great mistake I was making by giving up what was good when I wanted to be good all the time! The devil must think this very important at the outset of a soul's growth in virtue, for I was quite unable to take myself in hand.[34] He knows that the great means of progress for a soul is converse with friends of God, and thus it was for this reason that I could not come to a decision. First of all, I waited till I had amended my life, just as I had done when I gave up prayer. It may be that I should never have amended it, for I was such a slave to my little bad habits that I could not bring myself to realize that they were bad at all: I needed the help of others, who would take me by the hand and raise me up. Blessed be the Lord that, in the end, the first hand to raise me was His!

When I found that my fear was getting such a hold over me, because I was progressing in the practice of prayer, it seemed to me that there must either be something very good about this or something terribly bad; for I was quite sure that my experiences were supernatural because sometimes I was unable to resist them, nor could I come by them whenever I wanted to. I thought to myself that there was nothing I could do but keep a clear conscience and avoid all occasions of even venial sin; for, if it was the Spirit of God at work, I was obviously the gainer, whereas, if it was the devil, he could do me little harm provided I strove to please the Lord and not to offend Him -- in fact, the devil could not fail to be the loser. Having resolved upon this, and begging God all the time to help me, I strove for some days to live in this way, but found that my soul was not strong enough by itself to achieve such a high degree of perfection; for I was attached in certain ways to things which, though not wrong in themselves, were sufficient to spoil all my efforts.

They told me of a learned cleric who lived in that place, and whose goodness and holy life the Lord was beginning to make known among the people.[35] I got to know him through a saintly gentleman who lived there also.[36] This gentleman is married, but his life is so exemplary and virtuous, and so outstanding in prayer and charity, that everything he does is resplendent with his goodness and perfection. And with good reason, for many souls have been greatly benefited by him: such great talents has he that, although his being married is anything but a help to him, he cannot do otherwise than use them. He is a man of great intelligence, and very gentle with everybody; and his conversation is never wearisome, but so pleasant and gracious, not to say upright and holy, that it gives great delight to those with whom he has to do. He directs all he does to the great good of the souls with whom he holds converse and he seems to have no other aim than to do whatever he can for everyone he meets and to give everyone pleasure.

Well, so diligent on my behalf was this blessed and holy man that he seems to me to have been the beginning of my soul's salvation. The humility he has shown me is astounding; for he has practised prayer, I believe, for nearly forty years -- perhaps two or three years less -- and the life he lives, I think, is as nearly perfect as his married state permits. His wife, too, is so great a servant of God and so charitable a woman that she is no hindrance to him: indeed, she was chosen to be the wife of one who God knew would be a great servant of His.

Some of their relatives were married to some of mine[37] and I also had a good deal to do with another great servant of God who was married to one of my cousins. It was in this way that I arranged for this cleric who, as I say, was such a servant of God to come to speak with me: he was a great friend of this gentleman and I thought of having him as my confessor and director. When he had brought him to talk to me, I, in the greatest confusion at finding myself in the presence of so holy a man, spoke to him about my soul and my method of prayer, but he would not hear my confession, saying that he was very much occupied, as indeed he was. He began with the holy determination to treat me as if I were strong (and so I ought to have been, considering the extent to which, as he saw, I practised prayer), so that I should give no offence of any kind to God. But when I saw how determinedly he was attacking these little habits of mine which I have already mentioned, and that I had not courage enough to live more perfectly, I became distressed, and, realizing that he was treating me in spiritual matters as though I were going to become perfect immediately, I saw that I should have to be much more careful.

In due course I realized that I should not improve by using the means which he employed with me, for they were meant for a soul which was much more perfect, and I, though advanced in Divine favours, was, as regards virtues and mortification, still quite a beginner. Really, if I had had nobody else to consult, I think my soul would never have shown any improvement, for the distress which it caused me to find that I was not doing what he told me, and felt unable to do so, was sufficient to make me lose hope and give up the whole thing. I sometimes marvel that, though he was a person with a particular gift for leading beginners to God, it was not God's will that he should understand my own soul or desire to take it into his charge. But I see now that it was all for my good, so that I should get to know and consult people as holy as those of the Company of Jesus.

So I made an arrangement with this saintly gentleman that he should sometimes come to see me. It showed what great humility he had, that he should have been willing to have to do with anyone as wicked as I. He began to pay me visits and to encourage me and to tell me not to think that I could get rid of all my troubles in a day but to be sure that God would help me to get rid of them by degrees. He himself, he said, had for many years been troubled by some quite trivial imperfections, which he had never been able to get rid of. O humility, what great blessings dost thou bring to those who possess thee and also to those who have to do with the humble minded! This saint (for so I think I can rightly call him) would tell me about his own weaknesses -- or what his humility led him to think of as such -- so that he might help me. Considered in relation to his state of life, they were neither faults nor imperfections, though they would be great faults in the life of a religious like myself. I am not saying this without a reason; I seem to be enlarging upon small points, and yet these are most important if a soul which is not yet fledged, as they say, is to begin to make progress and learn to fly, though no one will believe this who has not experienced it. And as I hope in God that Your Reverence will benefit many souls, I say this here, for my whole salvation was due to the fact that this gentleman knew how to treat me and had the humility and charity necessary for dealing with me and could put up with me when he saw that in some respects I was not amending my life. Gradually and discreetly he showed me ways of vanquishing the devil. So great was the love which I began to bear him that I found nothing more restful than seeing him, though there were few days when I was able to do so. Whenever a long time passed without a visit from him I would at once become very much worried, thinking that he was not coming to see me because I was so wicked.

When he began to realize the seriousness of my imperfections, which may even have been sins (though I improved after I got to know him), and when, in order to obtain light from him, I told him of the graces which God was bestowing upon me, he warned me that these two things were not consistent, that such favours were given to persons who were very far advanced and greatly mortified, and that he could not help having misgivings lest in some of these matters an evil spirit might be at work in me, though he was not sure. But he told me to think well over my experiences in prayer, so far as I understood them, and to tell him about them. But that was the difficulty: I simply could not describe these experiences; it is only quite recently that God has granted me the grace of being able to understand their nature and to describe them.

When he said this to me, fearful as I already was, I was greatly distressed and wept sorely; for I really desired to please God and I could not persuade myself that this was the work of the devil, but I was afraid lest on account of my great sins God might be blinding me so that I could not realize it. Looking through books to see if I could learn how to describe my method of prayer, I found in one, called The Ascent of the Mount,[38] which describes the union of the soul with God, all the symptoms I had when I was unable to think of anything. It was exactly this that I was always saying -- that when I was experiencing that type of prayer I could think of nothing. So I marked the relevant passages and gave him the book, in order that he and that other cleric to whom I have referred, a holy man and a servant of God, should look at it and tell me what I ought to do. If they thought it well, I would give up prayer altogether, for why should I run into these dangers? If after almost twenty years' experience of prayer I had gained nothing, but had been deluded by the devil, surely it was better for me not to pray at all -- though this would also have been very difficult, for I had already discovered what my soul was like without prayer. Whichever way I looked, then, I was beset by trials. I was like a person who has fallen into a river: whatever the direction he takes, he is afraid the danger will be greater and yet he is almost drowning. This is a very great trial, and I have experienced many such, as I shall say later: it may seem unimportant but it may possibly be of great advantage to learn how spirituality is to be tested.

And certainly this is a grievous trial to experience and one needs to be careful -- women especially so, since we are very weak, and may come to great harm if we are told in so many words that we are being deluded by the devil. The matter should be very carefully considered and women protected from all possible dangers. They should be advised to keep their experiences very secret and it is well that their advisers should observe secrecy too. I speak of this from knowledge, for I have been caused great distress by the indiscretion of certain persons with whom I have discussed my experiences in prayer. By talking about them to each other they have done me great harm, divulging things which should have been kept very secret, for they are not meant for everyone to know, and it looked as though I were publishing them myself. The fault, I believe, was not theirs: the Lord permitted it so that I might suffer. I do not mean that they divulged what I had told them in confession, but none the less, as they were people whom I had consulted about my fears, so that I might obtain light from them, I thought they ought to have kept silence. In spite of this, however, I never dared to hide anything from such persons. I think then, that women should be counselled with great discretion, and encouraged, and the right moment should be awaited, at which the Lord will help them as He has helped me: had He not done so, I should have come to great harm, so timorous was I and so fearful. Considering the serious heart trouble from which I was suffering, I am amazed that this did not greatly harm me.

Well, when I had given him the book, together with the best general account of my life and sins that I could (not in confession, as he was a layman, but I made it very clear to him how wicked I was), these two servants of God[39] considered with great charity and love what would be best for me. At length they gave me the reply which I had awaited with such dread. During the intervening days I had begged many persons to commend me to God and had prayed continually. But, when this gentleman came to me, it was to tell me with great distress that to the best of their belief my trouble came from the devil, and the wisest thing for me to do would be to discuss it with a Father of the Company of Jesus, who would come to see me if I asked him to do so and told him what I needed. I could then give him a perfectly clear description of my whole life and spiritual state in the form of a general confession; and through the virtue of the Sacrament of Confession God would give him more light on my case: these Fathers were men of great experience in spiritual matters. I ought not, they said, to depart in the very least from whatever he might say, because if I had no one to direct me I was in great peril.

This caused me such distress and fear that I did not know what to do: I could only weep. But while I was in an oratory, in great affliction, and not knowing what was to become of me, I read in a book, which it seemed as if the Lord had put into my hands, those words of Saint Paul, that God is very faithful and never allows people who love Him to be deluded by the devil.[40] This was the greatest comfort to me. I began to think over my general confession and to write down all my good and bad points and prepare the clearest account of my life that I possibly could, leaving nothing unsaid. I remember that, after writing it, I found so many bad points and so little that was good that it caused me the greatest distress and affliction. I was also troubled that my sisters in the convent should see me consulting such saintly people as those of the Company of Jesus; for I was afraid of my wickedness and thought that I should now be obliged to abandon it and to give up my pastimes, and that if I did not do so I should grow worse; and so I arranged with the sacristan and portress that they should not talk about it to anyone. However, this was of little use, because when I was sent for there was someone at the door who talked about it all over the convent. What a lot of obstacles and fears the devil sets before those who are anxious to approach God!

I told that servant of God[41] all about my soul (and he was indeed a servant of God and a very prudent one, too); and, being well versed in the subject, he told me what was wrong and greatly encouraged me. He said that I was very evidently being led by the Spirit of God and that I needed to return to my prayer: I was not working upon a good foundation, nor had I begun to understand the nature of mortification (which was true: I do not believe I even understood the meaning of the word). I must on no account give up prayer; on the contrary, since God was granting me such special favours, I must work hard at it. How did I know, he asked me, that the Lord was not desirous of using me in order to help a great number of people and perhaps to do other things (it seems now that he was prophesying what the Lord afterwards did with me)? I should be very much to blame, he added, if I were not responsive to the favours that God was showing me. Throughout, as it seemed to me, the Holy Spirit was speaking through him, for the good of my soul, to judge from the way that his words impressed themselves upon it.

He made me very much ashamed; and led me along paths which seemed to make me quite a different person. What a great thing it is to understand a soul! He told me that my daily prayer should be based upon one of the incidents of the Passion, and that I should get all I could out of that incident, think only of Christ's Humanity and as far as possible resist the desire for recollection and consolations; these I was not to indulge again until he gave me further instructions.

He left me comforted and strengthened. The Lord helped us both, enabled him to understand my spiritual condition and showed him how to direct me. I made a determination not to depart in any way from what he commanded me and to that determination I have remained true until this day. Praised be the Lord, Who has given me grace to obey my confessors, however imperfectly! These have almost always been chosen from the blessed Fathers of the Company of Jesus, although, as I say, I have followed them imperfectly. My soul began to grow notably better, as I shall now relate.

CHAPTER XXIV

Continues the subject already begun. Describes how her soul profited more and more after she began to obey, how little it availed her to resist the favours of God and how His Majesty went on giving them to her in increasing measure.

After I had made this confession my soul became so amenable that I thought there could be nothing which I should not be prepared to do; and so I began to make many changes in my habits, although my confessor did not press me to do so and in fact seemed to trouble about it all very little. But this moved me the more, for he led me by the way of love for God, which brought me, not oppression, as it would if I had not done it out of love, but freedom. I remained in that state for nearly two months, doing all I could to resist the favours and graces of God. The change in me was manifest even superficially, for the Lord was already beginning to encourage me to suffer things which persons who knew me, and even the nuns in my own house,[42] considered and described as extreme. And they were right: these things were indeed extreme by comparison with what I had been doing before. But they fell short of the obligations of my habit and profession.

By resisting the consolations and favours of God I gained this -- that His Majesty Himself taught me. For previously I had thought that, if I was to receive favours in prayer, I must go apart by myself a great deal, and so I had hardly dared to stir. Then I began to see how little this had to do with it; the more I tried to think of other things, the more completely the Lord enveloped me in that sweetness and glory until I felt so completely surrounded by it that I could not flee from it in any direction; and thus matters continued. I was so much concerned about this that it caused me distress. The Lord, however, was much more concerned, during those two months, to grant me favours and to reveal Himself to me more than He had been wont to do, so that I might the better understand that resistance was no longer in my power. I began to conceive a new love for the most sacred Humanity. My prayers now began to take shape like an edifice with solid foundations, and I grew fonder of penances, which I had neglected because of my frequent indispositions.

That holy man[43] who heard my confessions told me that there were certain things which could not hurt me; and suggested that God might perhaps be giving me ill-health just because I did not perform penances -- that is, that His Majesty was being pleased to give me the penances Himself. My confessor ordered me to practise certain mortifications which I did not find very agreeable. But I performed them all, because his commands seemed to me to come from the Lord, and I thanked him for giving them to me so that I could obey Him. Any offence, however slight, which I might commit against God I would feel in my soul so deeply that if I had anything I did not need[44] I could not become recollected again until it had been taken away. I prayed earnestly that the Lord would hold me by His hand, and, now that I was in touch with His servants, would grant me grace not to turn back. For to do this, I thought, would be a great failing, since it would detract from their credit.

During this period the town was visited by Father Francis, who was Duke of Gandía but some years before had given up everything and entered the Company of Jesus.[45] My confessor and the gentleman I have spoken of arranged for him to come and see me so that I might talk to him and tell him about my experiences in prayer, as they knew him to be very proficient in this and to be receiving great favours and graces from God, as rewards in this life for all that he had given up for Him. When he had heard my story, he told me that I was being led by the Spirit of God and that he thought I should not be doing right to resist Him further. It had been right to do so, he said, until now; but he suggested that I should always begin my prayers with a meditation on one of the incidents of the Passion, and, if the Lord should then transport my spirit, I should not resist Him but should allow His Majesty to have it and make no effort to keep it back. He gave me this medicine and counsel as one who had himself made great progress: in this matter there is much potency in experience. He said that it would be a mistake for me to resist any longer. I was greatly comforted and so was this gentleman: he was delighted that the Father had said I was being led by God and he continued to help and advise me to the best of his ability, which was very great.

About this time my confessor was transferred elsewhere. I was very sorry for this, for I thought I should be bound to grow wicked again, not supposing that it would be possible to find another like him. My soul was as if in a desert; I grew most disconsolate and fearful; and I did not know what would become of me. But a relative of mine arranged for me to go and stay with her and I at once set about getting another confessor from the Company. It was the Lord's good pleasure that I should become friendly with a widowed lady of good family,[46] who was much given to prayer, and had a great deal to do with these Fathers. She arranged for me to make my confessions to her own confessor and I stayed in her house for some days; she lived quite near. I was delighted at getting into close touch with the Fathers, for the mere realization of the holiness of their way of life brought my soul great benefit.

This Father[47] began to lead me to greater perfection. He told me that I ought to leave nothing undone so as to become entirely pleasing to God, and he treated me with great skill, yet also very gently, for my soul was not at all strong, but very sensitive, especially as regards abandoning certain friendships which were not actually leading me to offend God. There was a great deal of affection beneath these and it seemed to me that if I abandoned them I should be sinning through ingratitude; so I asked him why it was necessary for me to be ungrateful if I was not offending God. He told me to commend the matter to God for a few days, and to recite the hymn Veni, Creator, and I should be enlightened as to which was the better thing to do. So I spent the greater part of one whole day in prayer; and then, beseeching the Lord that He would help me to please Him in everything, I began the hymn. While I was reciting it, there came to me a transport so sudden that it almost carried me away: I could make no mistake about this, so clear was it. This was the first time that the Lord had granted me the favour of any kind of rapture. I heard these words: "I will have thee converse now, not with men, but with angels." This simply amazed me, for my soul was greatly moved and the words were spoken to me in the depths of the spirit. For this reason they made me afraid, though on the other hand they brought me a great deal of comfort, which remained with me after the fear caused by the strangeness of the experience had vanished.

The words have come true: never since then have I been able to maintain firm friendship save with people who I believe love God and try to serve Him, nor have I derived comfort from any others or cherished any private affection for them. It has not been in my own power to do so; and it has made no difference if the people have been relatives or friends. Unless I know that a person loves God or practises prayer, it is a real cross to me to have to do with him. I really believe this is the absolute truth.

Since that day I have been courageous enough to give up everything for the sake of God, Who in that moment -- for I think it happened in no more than a moment -- was pleased to make His servant another person. So there was no need for my confessor to give me any further commands. When he had found me so much attached to these friendships, he had not ventured to tell me definitely to abandon them. He had to wait until the Lord took it in hand, as He did. I did not think at first that I could ever give them up, for I had tried it already, and it had caused me such great distress that I had put the idea aside, as the friendships did not appear unseemly. But now the Lord set me free and gave me strength to carry my resolution into practice. So I told my confessor this and gave up everything, exactly as he had instructed me to do. And when the persons with whom I had been intimate saw how determined I was it caused them great edification.

Blessed for ever be God, Who in one moment gave the freedom which, despite all the efforts I had been making for so many years, I had never been able to attain, though sometimes I had done such violence to myself that it badly affected my health. As it was the work of One Who is almighty and the true Lord of all, it caused me no distress.

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Footnotes

[1]The bracketed sentence is found in the margin of the autograph in St. Teresa's hand.

[2][P. Silverio says that this happened at St. Joseph's, Avila, "about the year 1565". But, as this book was only completed in 1565, and the incident is referred to in a phrase which suggests some lapse of time, his chronology would seem to have little meaning. Lewis (p. 162, n. 6) says "1564 or 1565", which is not much better.]

[3][Envuelto. See n. 90.]

[4]Psalm ci, 8. [A.V., cii, 7]: "I have watched, and am become as a sparrow all alone on the housetop." [St. Teresa's spelling of Latin is largely phonetic and always quaint. It will suffice to reproduce this one example of it: Vigilavi ed fatus sun sicud passer solitarius yn tecto. The orthography given in the text is here, and will normally be else where, that of the Vulgate.]

[5]Psalm xli, 4 [A.V., xlii, 3].

[6]Galatians vi, 14: ". . . by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world."

[7][Malachias iv, 2. A.V.: "Sun of Righteousness."]

[8][Quien está de lo alto . . . I give the most obvious translation of this rather unusual phrase (lit.: "he who is from the height"), but I suspect the omission of mirando: "He who is looking (down) from on high . . ." the reference being to the soul's attitude to the world.]

[9]P. BáĖez altered this phrase to: "It has no desire to seek or possess any will save that of Our Lord," and the change was followed in the editio princeps.

[10]St. Vincent Ferrer: De Via spirituali, Chap. XIV: "Si dicerent tibi aliquid quod sit contra fidem, et contra Scripturam sacram, aut contra bonos mores, abhorreas eorum visionem et judicia, tanquam stultas dementias, et earum raptus, sicut rabiamenta." St. Teresa could have read this book in a Spanish version published at Toledo in 1510, and reprinted five years later, in a volume containing also the life of Blessed Angela de Foligno and the Rule of St. Clare.

[11]Psalm liv, 7 [A.V., lv, 6].

[12][Cf. St. John of the Cross, I, 25: "All the creatures are nothing; and their affections, we may say, are less than nothing. . . . The soul that sets its affections upon the being of creation is likewise nothing in the eyes of God, and less than nothing." (Ascent of Mount Carmel, I, iv.)]

[13][P. Silverio supposes this to refer to Psalm cxlii, 2 (A.V., cxliii, 2): "In thy sight no man living shall be justified." But the interrogative form suggests rather Job xxv, 4 ("Can man be justified compared with God?") or of Job iv, l7 ("Shall man be justified in comparison of God?").]

[14][Barro: mud, clay. Often used in Spanish as a symbol of the earthly and material.]

[15][Cf. St. John of the Cross, I, 62, sect. 9]

[16][This second "it" must refer to the soul (alma), which is feminine in Spanish. P. Silverio, however, has the masculine pronoun el; I follow earlier texts, which amend this to ella.]

[17]Algún cornado. The cornado was a small copper coin, worth about as much as a cuarto, or 3/100 of a peseta. It had come in late in the thirteenth century and in St. Teresa's day was no longer current; but it was spoken of metaphorically, in the sense of "brass farthing" or "mite", much as the cuarto is now.

[18][Probably a reminiscence of Apocalypse ii, 23: "And I will give to every one of you according to your works."]

[19]Romans vii, 24: "Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

[20][Presumably St. John xvi, 7-14 is meant. The Spanish has "at the time of" for "with regard to" and the "had" which follows is in the indicative mood: grammatically, therefore, the sense of the passage is that the words were spoken after the Holy Spirit had come. No doubt this was an inadvertence on the part of the author.]

[21]The passage "But it seems to me . . . all the rest" was inserted by the author in the margin of the autograph.

[22]This chapter, which dwells on the suitability of the Humanity of Christ as a subject for meditation, attacks an idea, very prevalent in St. Teresa's time, that at certain stages of mystical progress any such "corporeal" subject, even the mystery of Our Lord's Incarnation, should be rigidly excluded by the contemplative. All later Spanish mystics follow St. Teresa here and many specifically eulogize or embroider this exposition.

[23]"By 'recently' . . . visions" is a marginal addition in St. Teresa's hand.

[24][Lewis (p. 187, n. 5) supposes this to be P. Juan de Prádanos: cf. n. 190.]

[25]She seems to be addressing P. García de Toledo here and the addition of "Sir" may be due to the fact that he was the son of the Count of Oropesa. She uses the same word when writing to the aristocratic Don Álvaro de Mendoza, Bishop of Avila.

[26]St. Luke v, 8.

[27][St. Luke xvii, 10.]

[28][The exact sense of this clause is doubtful. Dar voces means to cry or shout aloud and the meaning may well be "he has no need to make a fuss about it". I translate "practise singing" only out of deference to the contact. P. Silverio has "He" for "he": if we adopt this, we must read: "He (God) has no need to proclaim the fact." But this seems to me a definitely inferior interpretation.]

[29][Or: "and how well loved is he who loves Him . . . !"]

[30][Lit.: "and keep themselves (to themselves)."]

[31]Such were the notorious Sor Magdalena de la Cruz of Córdoba [and María de la Visitación, the Lisbon prioress who was credited with having received the stigmata: cf. S.S.M., I, 37-8].

[32]It was in 1554 that the Society of Jesus founded the College of St. Giles (San Gil) at Avila, to which foundation St. Teresa owed a great deal of the spiritual help which she received from the Jesuit Fathers.

[33][Cosa recia. Lit.: "a stout (tough, hard) thing." As we might say in conversation: "A little too strong."]

[34][Acabarlo conmigo. A stronger rendering, such as "put an end to it all", would not be out of place.]

[35]This was Gaspar Daza, a pious and learned priest who for some time was St. Teresa's confessor and helped her a great deal with the foundation of St. Joseph's. He died in 1592.

[36]Don Francisco de Salcedo, an Ávilan gentleman whose wife, DoĖa Mencía del Águila, was a cousin of the wife of Don Pedro de Cepeda, St. Teresa's uncle (cf. n. 81). He had studied theology at the Dominican College of St. Thomas, in Avila, and after the death of his wife, took Holy Orders. He died in 1580.

[37]One of these links is mentioned in the preceding note.

[38][She refers to the Ascent of Mount Sion, published at Seville, in 1535, by a Franciscan lay-brother, Bernardino de Laredo. An account of Laredo and his book will be found in S.S.M., II, 41-76.]

[39]Salcedo and Daza.

[40]1 Corinthians x, 13. "And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it."

[41]This was P. Juan de Prádanos, who was St. Teresa's confessor for two months and probably the first Jesuit confessor she ever had. He died at Valladolid, in 1597.

[42]The Convent of the Incarnation, Avila.

[43]P. Juan de Prádanos.

[44][Lit.: "any superfluous thing" -- presumably referring to small comforts or luxuries.]

[45]St. Francis Borgia [Sp., Borja] had been appointed Commissary of the Society of Jesus in Spain and it was in this capacity that, on several occasions, he visited the College of St. Giles at Avila. The visit on which he made the acquaintance of St. Teresa took place in 1557. The Duchess of Gandía, who was one of the witnesses when evidence was being taken previously to her beatification, deposed that she had "often heard the Duke of Gandía, Father Francis of Borja, who became General of the Society of Jesus, speak of the spirituality, life and sanctity of the Mother Teresa of Jesus."

[46]DoĖa Guiomar (or Jerónima) de Ulloa. Both her parents, Don Pedro de Ulloa and DoĖa Aldonza de Guzmán, bore illustrious names. Left a widow at the age of twenty-five, she devoted herself to a life of virtue, and helped St. Teresa, whom she first met in 1557, with her early work in connection with the Discalced Reform. Cf. St. Teresa's testimony to her in a letter to her brother Lorenzo, dated December 31, 1561 (Letters [St.], I, 4), where she describes their friendship as closer than one between sisters.

[47]P. Baltasar Álvarez, who was one of the best directors St. Teresa ever had, though at times, as we shall see in Chap. XXVIII, he was somewhat hesitating and timid in his treatment of her. He acted as her confessor from 1559 to 1564, and in 1567, while at Medina del Campo, was of great use to her in connection with the foundation which she made there. He died on July 25, 1580, at the age of only forty-seven.

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