The Pater Noster of Saint Teresa of Avilla
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PART ONE
And Lead Us Not Into Temptation,
"But Deliver Us From Evil"
Taken From "The Pater Noster of Saint Teresa"

Translated and Adapted by
MONSIGNOR WILLIAM J. DOHENY, C.S.C
Imprimatur, 1942

Necessity of Trials and Combats

These are exalted favors that we must here consider and understand, because we have to ask them of God. Let us begin by studying one point that I view as absolutely certain. It is this: ThOse who reach perfection do not ask God to be freed from trials, temptations, persecutions, and combats. To be afflicted by trials is but another apparent and unmistakable proof that such souls are guided by the Holy Spirit, and that they are not deluded when they view contemplation and other special favors as coming from the hand of God. And I repeat, these souls prefer trials; they even request and love them.

They are like soldiers, who are the happier the more often they fight, because of their hope for richer rewards. For if there are no combats, soldiers have to be content to live on their pay, and they well understand that they will never be able to enrich themselves in that fashion.

Conflicts, the Lot of the Soldiers of Christ

Believe me, the hour of conflict never comes soon enough for the soldiers of Christ; that is, for those who are raised to contemplation and who dedicate themselves to prayer. They never have great fear of their proclaimed adversaries, for they know them, and are aware that such opponents have no real power against those armed with the strength of God. They always come forth as victors from the fight, enriched with rewards. Such souls are never put to flight by their enemies.

Demons Are Traitors
 
It is the traitors who they have good reason to fear, and against whom they beg protection from our Lord. These latter are the demons who deceitfully transform themselves into Angels of light, and the enemies who disguise themselves until they have caused the greatest harm to the soul. They do not make known their real identity; but they gradually suck the very life-blood of our soul and destroy virtue, so that we fall into temptation without realizing it. These are the real adversaries from whom we should often beg our Lord to deliver us, when we recite the Pater Noster. Ask Him never to permit us to succumb to temptation, nor to become victims of illusion. Let us beseech Him to show us the poison. May our enemies never hide the light and truth from us. How right our Good Master was in teaching us this petition and addressing it to His Father for us!

Danger of Delusions

Realize that our hidden enemies can harm us in many ways. Do not think that it is solely by deluding us into believing that the joys and consolations they may bring, come from God. In my opinion, this is the least harm they can cause to souls. As a matter of fact, these joys and consolations may even inspire some to advance in the service of God. These joys may attract such souls to devote more time to prayer. Being ignorant of the influence of Satan over their souls, these persons unceasingly thank God and feel obliged to serve Him ever more fervently, particularly in view of their unworthiness of such favors. They should endeavor to show more fidelity, so that our Lord will add new graces
to those they suppose themselves to have already received.

Humility a Protection Against Satan

Strive to be always humble. Realize that you are not worthy of such exalted graces, and do not seek them. I am convinced that in this way Satan loses many souls he had conceitedly looked upon as already ruined. Thus, from the evil Satan sought to cause, His Majesty draws good. Our Lord sees that our intention, in remaining close to Him in prayer, is to please and serve Him. And He is always faithful to His promises. Nevertheless, we should be on our guard so as not to offend against humility, or give way to vainglory. Beg our Lord to save you from such harm, and do not fear that His Majesty will permit you, for long, to receive consolations from anyone but Himself.

Danger of Imaginary Virtues

Unknown to ourselves, Satan may cause great harm by deluding us into the belief that we have virtues which in reality we do not possess. This is a real evil. Through heedlessness, we take a path that appears safe, and straightway we fall into a quagmire from which we cannot free ourselves. If we do not commit a mortal sin that drags us to Hell, at least our feet are fettered and we cannot follow the way of perfection.

How can one walk when he has fallen into a deep marsh? He is doomed to finish his days there. He will be fortunate if he does not go deeper and fall into Hell. In all events, he will never make progress. If such misfortune is his state, he will be of no help to himself or to others. In fact, he would be harmful to them, for since the pit is already there, many who pass by the way can fall into it. But if the one sunk in the bog, climbs out and fills the pit with soil, no further harm will come to him or to others.

I warn you then that the temptation by which the demon deludes us, causing us to think that we have virtues we do not really possess is a very dangerous one. I know this full well from experience. I can speak on this subject, although not so well as I should wish.

Deceits of Satan

Satan, for example, gives you to understand that you are poor. There is some truth in this, since you have made a vow of poverty to God, at least with the lips. He has even convinced prayerful persons of this. I have said, "with the lips," because it is impossible that Satan should keep us ensnared by this temptation for twenty years and even for a lifetime, if we fully realized what we promised, and had made this promise with heartfelt sincerity. Surely we should see that by such conduct we mislead the world and deceive ourselves.

Need of Genuine Poverty

We have made the promise of poverty. Or at least, we who believe ourselves poor say, "I do not desire any of the goods of this world, but I am keeping this object because it is essential, and I must live to serve God. After all, He wishes us to nourish our body." And thus we must offer deceitful excuses for a thousand different things which the demon, disguised as an Angel of light, represents as reasonable. He persuades us that we are already poor, and that since we really possess the virtue of poverty, we need not strive further to acquire it.
 
We cannot discover whether or not we have the virtue unless we examine our actions attentively. One who has an excessive interest in temporal things will not be slow to show it. However, a person who is truly poor has so little esteem for the goods of this world that he is never disquieted when, for one legitimate motive or another, he has to seek them. If he lacks something, he gives no further thought to it; if he becomes truly poor, he is not much preoccupied with his poverty. Earthly goods are for him not a primary, but only a secondary concern. His thoughts are more exalted.

Danger of Superfluities

Religious who are poor do not own anything, because at times they really have nothing to possess. But should someone give them something, rarely would they consider it superfluous. They are always happy to have something in reserve. If they can have a garment of finer cloth, they will not ask for cloth of coarser texture. They desire to possess a multiplicity of things, even though it be only a small reserve of funds to insure their needs should illness require more than ordinary care.

Have you not promised God that you will not be preoccupied about the things of the world, and no matter what might happen, to abandon yourselves without reserve to His Providence? But if you are constantly concerned lest you lack something, would it not be preferable to have fixed revenues, as a means of avoiding anxieties? Furthermore, even though we may possess such revenues without sin, it is well for us to understand the imperfections we commit against poverty, so that we may see how far we are from possessing this virtue. And we ought to ask God for this poverty and strive to acquire it. For if we erroneously believe that we already have it, we shall pass up all opportunities to acquire it. And what is worse, we are living under an illusion.

Genuine Humility
 
The same is true of the virtue of humility. It may appear that we do not seek the esteem of persons and that we are detached from everything. But hardly are we put to the test than our resentment and our actions manifest that we are not humble. Nor do we spurn the little esteem that we receive. In a similar fashion, the poor of whom I just spoke, do not refuse an object that can be of some slight advantage to them. And still God wills that they seek not themselves!

Consolations From God

When we receive joys and consolations from God, we feel that we on our part do nothing but accept these gifts from Him. Hence, we feel that we should serve God with greater fidelity in gratitude for them. On the other hand, when consolations come from Satan, we seem to think that we are the ones proffering the gifts to God, and that we are rendering Him a service that He must repay. And by these deceitful notions Satan gradually works the greatest harm in the soul. On the one hand, he weakens humility, while on the other, he makes us negligent in the acquiring of a virtue we mistakenly think we possess.

Deceitful Consolations From Satan

What remedy have we against this temptation? The best seems to be the one our Master gives us. He tells us to pray and to beg the Eternal Father not to permit us to fall into temptation. But I would suggest an additional remedy. If our Lord seems to have given you some particular virtue, consider it as a loan which He can withdraw at will. And this really often happens, though not without His special providence. I know this from personal experience. Sometimes I feel that I am very much detached from the things of the world, and at times I prove that I am. But at other times, on the contrary, I find myself so attached on certain points -----points about which perhaps I should have laughed on the preceding day-----that I can hardly recognize myself.

Vacillating Character of Human Beings

Sometimes I feel that I have great courage and that were it a matter of God's service, I would not recoil before any obstacle; and on certain occasions I have proved this. Nevertheless, on the following day I should not have the courage to kill an ant, for the love of God, even though I encountered the least probable difficulty in doing so. Again, at times I feel that I would be insensible to every kind of slander and calumny, and on several occasions I have proved the existence of such sentiments, and have even experienced joy in the trials. Nevertheless, there are days when a single word afflicts me and I long to leave this world, because everything wearies me. I am not the only person disturbed by such vacillations of temperament. I have verified this with certainty in persons much better than myself.

Docile Dependence Upon God

Since this is so, who among us can claim for themselves virtue or a wealth of virtues? At the very times we need these virtues most, we find ourselves absolutely destitute. On the contrary, let us consider ourselves as truly poor; and let us not contract debts which we cannot pay. Our treasure must come from another source. We never know when our Lord will leave us in the prison of our misery without aid from Him. If others consider us virtuous, or if they esteem and respect us, it is merely because of the virtues loaned to us. But if God should withdraw His hand, we and our admirers would become objects of ridicule.

Undoubtedly, if we serve God in all humility, He will aid us in our needs. However, if this virtue is not deeply embedded in our souls, our Lord will desert us at every step. In His way He will show us how much He wants us to work to acquire humility, as well as His desire that we possess nothing except what we receive from Him.

Dangerous Delusions From Satan

Here is another counsel I would offer you. Satan deceives us into believing that we possess some virtue; for example, patience, because we make a resolution to suffer much for God, and also frequently express this desire. We fancy that we would really suffer everything for His glory. We are elated over such dispositions; and Satan for his part does not fail to attempt to persuade us that we actually possess them. However, do not place any faith in such virtues. Until they have been put to the actual test, do not think that you know even their name, much less that you have received them from God. For it will happen that even one single annoying word will suffice to exhaust your splendid store of patience.

When you have much to suffer, thank God that He has begun to teach you this virtue of patience, and store up courage for further trials. Suffering is an indication that God wishes you to repay Him, for He has given you patience that you might exercise it, and might look upon it as a loan that can be recalled any time He wishes.

Imaginary Poverty

Another deceitful form of temptation lies in the ruse of Satan to delude us into thinking that we are very poor in spirit. As a matter of fact, we are accustomed to say that we desire nothing, and are concerned about nothing. But no sooner does a friend give us something that may not even be necessary, than our entire spirit of poverty vanishes. Since we have formed the habit of saying that we are poor in spirit, we finish by convincing ourselves, though without foundation, that we really are in fact.

Watchfulness Against Illusions

It is very important that we be on our guard to detect and realize the nature of this temptation, whether it concerns the virtues of which I have spoken, or a number of others. When our Lord bestows upon us one truly solid virtue, it appears to bring all the others in its train. This is a well-known fact. But I would warn you again always to dread illusions, even when you believe you possess only one virtue. A person who is truly humble is always doubtful of his virtues. He feels that the virtues of others are more genuine and solid than his own.

Danger of Discouragement About Past Sins

Let us be on our guard against a certain type of false humility that Satan suggests to us. He seeks to cast us into a state of anguish about the gravity of our sins. This is one point on which he disturbs souls in different ways. He even goes so far as to persuade them, on the plea of their unworthiness, not to receive Holy Communion and in particular, not to pray. If they approach the Sacred Table to receive Holy Communion, they wonder whether or not they are well prepared, and in this way they waste the time that should have been employed in drawing fruit from their graces. The anguish of these souls is so great at times, that they imagine that God has abandoned them because of their unworthiness. They almost doubt His mercy. Everything seems full of danger. Their good works, excellent though they be in themselves, they consider useless. Discouragement so enfeebles them that they consider themselves incapable of any good, because they fancy that all that is praiseworthy in others, is evil in them.

Disquieting Effect of False Humility

Consider attentively what I am about to say. It sometimes happens that a profound conviction of your own misery may be an act of humility and genuine virtue. At other times, however, this conviction may be a very subtle temptation. I know, because I have passed through this state.

 Genuine humility, no matter how profound it may be, never disquiets, never disturbs the soul. Rather it is accompanied by peace, joy, and calm.

Difference Between Genuine and False Humility

Undoubtedly, the sight of its misery afflicts the soul and clearly shows it that it merits Hell. It feels, too, that in justice, all mankind should abhor it; and so it scarcely dares to beg for mercy. But when humility is genuine, this pain fills the soul with such sweetness and joy, that we would be sad without it. Genuine humility does not distress, nor does it contract the soul; on the contrary, it dilates the soul and renders it more capable of serving God. Such is not the effect of false humility. This latter troubles and distresses the soul, and completely upsets it in every way. It likewise fills one with bitterness. In my opinion, Satan's ruse is to destroy our confidence in God by making us believe that we have humility.

We should value humility when it brings us the knowledge of our lowliness, accompanied, nevertheless, by true peace, joy, and consolation. If, on the contrary, the sense of our wretchedness troubles, disquiets, and contracts the soul, and hinders the intelligence from finding true peace, look upon it as a temptation of Satan. Do not, in that case, consider yourselves as genuinely humble. Such humility does not come from God.

Thoughts of the Mercy of God During Trials
 
When you find yourself under such a trial, divert your thoughts as quickly as possible from the consideration of your own wretchedness. Fix you attention on the mercy of God, on the love which He bears us, and on the sufferings He has endured for us. If there is a real temptation, perhaps you may not succeed in doing this, for Satan will not leave your spirit in peace, but will bother you with things designed to weary you even more. In fact, it will indeed be a great deal if you even recognize such a state as a temptation.

Danger of Excessive Penances

Similarly, Satan seeks to urge us on to excessive penances. His intention here is to have us consider ourselves more mortified than others, and in this way to convince us that we are doing something. But if you do give yourself up to penitential practices, without the knowledge of your confessor Superior, or if you do not discontinue them when they bid you to, then be sure that you have succumbed to temptation. Strive rather to obey, no matter what it costs you, for it is in obedience that the highest perfection consists. And thus we should reason in all our undertakings.

False Sense of Security

Another very treacherous temptation of Satan is that of a false sense of security. It consists in a certain confident conviction that we could never return to our former faults, or to worldly pleasures. We seem convinced of the nothingness of the world, and of its fleeting character, and we imagine that our sole delight is the service of God. This temptation is particularly dangerous when it appears at the beginning of the spiritual life, because the soul, blinded by this sense of security, takes no precautions against the occasions of sin, and so succumbs to them. God grant that this second fall be not worse than the first!! Because Satan recognizes the harm this soul can do to him, and the use it can be to others, he loses no opportunity effectively to frustrate its efforts to regain its former meritorious state. Never permit yourselves, then, no matter what consolations and pledges of love you may have received from our Lord, to be lulled into such a false sense of security that you will not fear relapses into sin. Always be on your guard against dangerous occasions of sin.

Genuine Candor With Spiritual Director

Do not fail to make your spiritual favors and consolations known to someone who is capable of guiding you. Conceal nothing from him; for it is precisely here that Satan is wont to work havoc in many ways.

 

"And Lead Us Not Into Temptation,
But Deliver Us From Evil"
Taken From
"The Pater Noster of Saint Teresa"

Translated and Adapted by
MONSIGNOR WILLIAM J. DOHENY, C.S.C
Imprimatur, 1942


PART TWO

Humble Spirit of Prayer

However sublime your contemplation may be, make it a point to begin and end your prayer with the realization of your nothingness. Continue always to walk in fear. If your prayer is from God, you will very often, in spite of yourself, reflect upon your own unworthiness, and you will have no need of this counsel. Such prayer engenders humility and always gives us greater light to perceive our nothingness. I shall not insist further, as you can consult many books on this matter. I have spoken about it because I have personally encountered these temptations, and have often suffered great anguish from them. I merely add that nothing that one might say is sufficient to insure us complete security.

Need of Constant Protection Against Wiles of Satan

O Eternal Father, since things are so, what can we do but have recourse to Thee, and beg Thee not to permit our enemies to lead us into temptations? If only they would attack us openly! Then we could more easily free ourselves with Thy help. But, who, O my God, will unmask their secret schemes? We have constant need of Thy protection. Speak, O Lord, some word that will enlighten and assure us. Thou knowest full well that those who travel the way of prayer are not numerous. And there will be even fewer, if, as one attempts to advance, one is beset with so many fears.

Sinners Under the Dominion of Satan

It is indeed a curious fact that the world seems to think that Satan never tempts those who fail to follow the way of prayer. Hence, it is more astounding to see one single soul, though striving for perfection, fall into some illusion, than it is to view a hundred thousand other persons, living publicly in sin and deceived by Satan. It requires little effort to determine whether these latter are in a good or bad state, for one can clearly see at a thousand leagues away, that they are under the domination of Satan.

Astonishment Caused by Fall of Prayerful Soul

In truth, the world is right to manifest this astonishment. After all, it has reason to be surprised and to consider it as something novel and rare, when Satan does succeed in ensnaring a soul that recites with fervor the Pater Noster. Usually, one pays little heed to ordinary happenings, but one is astounded by rare and exceptional incidents. That is why the demons themselves encourage this surprise in the worldly minded, for Satan finds that this astonishment works to his advantage; whereas a single soul reaching perfection deprives him of many others.

Protection Assured to Prayerful Souls

I am in no way surprised that the world is amazed at these falls; for such illusions are rare. If a person follows the way of prayer and remains even moderately watchful, such a one is incomparably safer than those following another way. Such a person is like a spectator seated in the elevated balcony at a bullfight, for he is far better protected than those risking the perils of the animal's horns in the arena. This comparison, which I have heard, seems to be literally exact.

Do not fear to follow the ways of prayer. They are numerous. Some find profit in one way, as I have explained; others, in another. But the course is a safe one. You will be freed more readily from temptation by being near our Lord than by remaining at a distance. Beg Him, entreat Him, to grant you this grace, as you repeatedly do each day in reciting the Pater Noster.

Gift of Love and of Fear

O good Master, deign to give us something that will enable us to live without torment in the midst of such dangerous encounters. His Majesty puts a gift at our disposal, the gifts of love and fear. Love will quicken our pace; fear will make us careful on this our journey, which is so beset with dangers. Certainly if we use this gift, we shall not become victims of illusion.

Signs Indicating Presence of Virtues

Perhaps you will ask me: By what sign can we know that we really possess these two virtues of such great worth? You are right in seeking a sign, for you know that we shall never have an absolutely sure and infallible proof. If we had the assurance that we possessed charity, we should also be certain that we were in the state of grace. Nevertheless, there are some indications of the presence of these virtues which are so obvious that even the blind can see them. And these signs manifest themselves with such persistence and emphasis that one has no choice but to take notice of them. They are the more noticeable, because there are so few persons who possess them in all their perfection.

Can one imagine anything greater than the love and fear of God? They are like two fortresses, whence the soul sallies forth to wage war on the world and the demons. Those who truly love God, love all that is good; favor all that is good; praise all that is good; and cooperate in the support and defense of the good. In a word, they love nothing else but the good and the true, that which is worthy to be loved.

Incompatibility of Love of God and of Vanities of the World

Do you think it is possible for one who truly loves God, to love vanities at the same time? Can you imagine such a one doing it? Of course not! For he who loves God, loves neither riches, nor the pleasures of this world, nor its honors. He has a horror of disputes and envy. His sole ambition is to please the Beloved. His longing to be loved by God exhausts his whole strength, and spurs him to spend his life in seeking means of pleasing Him better. Now how could such love of God be completely hidden? True love can never be concealed.

St. Paul and St. Mary Magdalen

Consider the examples of St. Paul and St. Mary Magdalen. After three days, St. Paul began to show signs that he languished from love, as St. Mary Magdalen did from the very first day. Surely their love was evident enough! Undoubtedly, there are degrees of love, and according to its intensity love manifests itself more or less clearly. But whether it be feeble or strong, if it is genuinely true love, it shows itself outwardly.

Ardent Love of Contemplatives

Since we are speaking of contemplatives who are exposed to the snares and deceits of Satan, I would add that their love is not feeble. On the contrary, it is always extremely ardent, for they would not be true contemplatives, unless it were. This love manifests itself openly and in many ways. It is a most vehement fire, and hence it must burn brightly. If it does not glow thus, the contemplative should distrust herself, and realize that she has serious reason to fear. She should endeavor to discover what is wrong and pray and beg our Lord to protect her from falling into temptation.

Perfect Candor With Confessor

In fact, if a contemplative did not possess this sign of special love, I should fear that she had fallen into temptation. But I repeat, if she is genuinely humble and seeks to know her true condition by opening her soul to a confessor with perfect candor and docility, in spite of all the flattering deceits of Satan, she will receive life instead of the spiritual death the demon so conceitedly planned for her.
 
Docility As Protection Against Satan
 
Our Lord is faithful to His promises. Rest assured that if your intention is upright, and you experience no sentiments of pride, what Satan intended for your destruction will give you life. Only be docile to the teachings of the Church, and you need not fear the illusions and deceptions of Satan. Your love of God will not be slow in manifesting itself anew.

Satan's Desire to Disquiet Souls

You may rejoice and be at peace if you experience the love of God, which I have described, and the fear that I am now going to discuss. Satan would like to disquiet you and prevent your enjoying favors so sublime. This is why, either personally or through others, he attempts to arouse vain fears. Since he cannot win you to his cause, he tries at least to deprive you of something. Thus he seeks to harm souls who desire to advance rapidly, and who would really do so if they would but realize that God is the One Who actually grants extraordinary graces, and that He can likewise richly endow with His gifts such unworthy creatures as we are. At times we even seem to go so far as to be unmindful of His great mercies in the past.

Satan's Method of Disquieting Souls

Do you think it matters little to Satan to be able to fill us with fear? No indeed! Quite on the contrary, it is of considerable importance to him, because through it he harms us particularly in two ways. First, he terrifies those souls who have heard about the illusions of contemplatives, by making them believe that they likewise would be victims of deception. Secondly, he diminishes the number of those who desire to draw closer to God, and who would actually do so if they only realized the immensity of His goodness, which can communicate itself in such an intimate way to poor sinners like us.

Helpfulness of Knowledge of the Divine Goodness

Certainly the knowledge of such Divine goodness would arouse in them, and rightly, a longing for a share in these great favors. Personally, I know several persons encouraged by this consideration. They devoted themselves to prayer, and in a short time they attained to contemplation and received special graces. Hence, O devoted friends of Christ, thank our Lord fervently when you see one of your own thus favored by Him. But do not think that such a Sister enjoys complete security. Aid her by praying all the more for her; for no one, surrounded by the perils of this tempestuous sea, can be secure while living on this earth.

Manifestations of Genuine Love

You cannot then fail to recognize this love, wherever it may exist. In fact, I cannot understand how it could possibly be concealed. They say the love that one creature bears toward another cannot be concealed, and still so inferior is this love that it hardly merits the name love, because it is founded on mere nothingness. How then could this other love, so ardent and transcendent, remain effectively hidden? Notice on the one hand, how it constantly goes on increasing, for nothing can hinder it; and on the other, how it rests on the intimate certainty that it is repaid by a like unfailing love. Was not this unfailing love proved by an incomparable manifestations that is, by the endurance of all forms of sorrows and trials, by the shedding of blood and finally by the surest proof of all, namely the sacrifice of life?
 
Final Reliance on Divine Love

O great God! What a vast difference the soul that has tried both loves must see between the two! May His Majesty, before He takes us from this life, deign to bestow on us His Divine love. For it will be an ineffable source of assurance to us at the hour of death to realize that we are going to be judged by Him Whom we have loved above all else. Convinced that our debts are paid, we shall be filled with confidence when we appear before His judgment seat. We shall not be going to a foreign country, but to our home, where He resides Whom we love so ardently, and Who bears us such great love.

Terrible Lot of Lost Souls

Consider now the great benefits of this love; but realize, at the same time, what an irreparable loss it is to be deprived of it. In that case, the soul would be handed over to the tormentor, delivered into those hands so cruel and hostile to all good, and so partial to all evil. What a terrible fate for the poor soul, who after passing through the pains and dreadful anguish of death, falls immediately into the hands of Satan! And what a frightful form of repose it will find in that abode where it enters! See how it is torn to pieces as it sinks into Hell. What a brood of loathsome serpents of every kind! What an appalling place! What must be the feelings of this unfortunate soul! What a terrible abode for the devotees of bodily comfort, who find it indeed a torture to spend a single night in a miserable inn! And yet these are the very ones destined to inhabit Hell. What will they think of the lodgings of Hell, where they must remain throughout all eternity?

Beginning of Life of Glory and Avoidance of Purgatory
 
Seek not the joys of this world. We are well enough off here. After all, we must spend but a single night in an uncomfortable inn. Let us praise God and force ourselves to do penance in this life. How comforting death will be to the person who will escape Purgatory, because he will have already made reparation for all his sins! Even here on earth he can begin to enjoy the life of glory, for he can live in perfect peace, without any reason for fear.

Sufferings of Purgatory

Perhaps we shall not reach this state. If we must suffer pain after death, let us beg God to place us in that abode where the hope of final deliverance may aid us to endure our sufferings willingly, and where we shall forfeit neither His friendship nor His grace. Entreat Him also to grant us in this life the grace never blindly to enter into an occasion of temptation.

Great Grace of Love of God

At what length have I dwelt upon this subject! And still I have not said as much as I should have wished. If it is so pleasant to speak of Divine love, what must it be to possess it. O Lord, in Thy infinite mercy deign to grant me this grace!

"And Lead Us Not Into Temptation,
But Deliver Us From Evil"
Taken From
"The Pater Noster of Saint Teresa"

Translated and Adapted by
MONSIGNOR WILLIAM J. DOHENY, C.S.C
Imprimatur, 1942

PART THREE

Complete Detachment From the World

Do not permit me to depart from this life until I am absolutely detached from all earthly things, nor before I realize the utter folly of loving aught but Thee. May I never fall into the error of applying the term love to anything in this world! If the foundation is unstable, the building cannot long stand.
 
Folly of Seeking Love in This World

I do not understand why we should be surprised when we hear people say, "This person has treated me shamefully; that person does not love me." I merely smile at such foolish remarks! After all, who is bound to repay us? Why should anyone love us? Let these reflections teach you what the world really is. You are tortured by the very love you bear it; this is what crushes you, for your heart bitterly resents your having squandered its affection in child's play.

Fear of God

Let us now consider the fear of God. But at the outset, I must tell you that I regret being unable here to speak about the love of this world, even though, in punishment for my sins, I was given to know it only too well. Though I should like to make you understand what it is, so that you would always keep yourselves from it, I must omit speaking of it so as not to digress from the subject of fear. The fear of God is also a virtue that is easily perceived by the one possessing it, as well as by one's companions. It is true that at the beginning, this virtue is not perfectly developed, except in those individuals whom God has specially favored and enriched in a short time with many graces.

 Notwithstanding, this holy fear is always recognized even in beginners. Little by little it grows, and with each succeeding day this virtue of fear becomes stronger. Then it is not tardy in manifesting itself. You will notice that a soul, possessing this fear of God, immediately avoids not only sin, but even its occasions, as well as bad companions. There are also many other ways by which this fear manifests its presence in a soul.

Dread of Sin

When the soul has reached contemplation, the fear of God that animates it is very evident. It is to such a soul that I now refer. This virtue, like love, cannot remain hidden in the heart. No matter how closely you observe such persons, you will never find them lacking in recollection. Our Lord shields them so carefully that they would not commit one deliberate venial sin for all the gold in the world. And as for mortal sins, they dread them as they dread fire.
 
Fear of Offending God

My wish is that you possess a profound dread of any illusions that may beset you in this matter. Constantly beg our Lord never to permit a temptation to become so violent that it would lead you to offend Him, but beg Him always to conform it to the strength He has given you, with which to resist it. If you keep your conscience pure, the temptation will cause you little or no harm. It will even redound to your advantage. It is important to keep this point in mind. Such is the fear, then, that I hope you will always retain. It will be your safeguard.

O, what a wonderful thing it is, not to have offended God. It is the fear of offending Him that enables us to hold in fetters the demons and slaves of Hell, for whether they desire or not, all creatures must obey God. The difference between the slaves of Hell and us is that they must serve Him without choice, whereas we serve God out of love. If we remain pleasing to our Lord, we shall keep the demons at a distance. Despite all their temptations, lies, and cunning, they can do nothing against us that cannot be turned to our advantage.

 Dread of Mortal Sin

Take care, then, to keep your conscience pure. This is a precaution of the greatest importance. Continue striving until you are so resolutely determined never to offend God that, rather than commit a single mortal sin, you would be ready to lose a thousand lives, and to be persecuted by the entire world.

Avoidance of Deliberate Venial Sin

You must be equally determined, likewise, to be ever on your guard so as not to commit a deliberate venial sin. I purposely refer to deliberate venial sin, for who does not commit indeliberate ones in great number? There is one form of attentiveness accompanied by deliberation, and there is another which is so sudden that the committing of the fault and our consciousness of it occur in the same instant. In such a case, we have not the opportunity to reflect upon what we do.

Gravity of Deliberate Venial Sin

May God preserve us from all deliberate venial sins, no matter how slight they may appear. I cannot understand how we can have the boldness to oppose so great a God, even though it be in the smallest things. Understand, above all, that it can never be a small matter to offend His Divine Majesty, especially when we realize that His loving gaze is fixed on us. In my opinion, a sin which is committed with the consciousness of God's gaze upon us is a completely deliberate sin. It is as if we said, "Lord, I intend to commit this sin, despite Thy displeasure. I fully realize that Thou dost see me, and I know that Thou dost not will me to commit this sin. Of all this I am fully conscious. Nevertheless, I prefer to follow my will and natural tendencies, rather than Thy Will." Can such an offense be a trivial matter? I do not think so. However slight the fault may be in itself, in view of the deliberation which accompanies it, it is great, and even very great.

For the love of God never be negligent on this point. Continue in your present good dispositions. Realize that it is extremely important to accustom yourselves to continue in the spirit of fear, and to understand the significance and gravity of an offense against God. Strive to deepen this conviction and maintain this spirit, until the fear of God is embedded little by little in your hearts. It is a question of your very life and even more.

Watchfulness Over Self
 
Until you are completely convinced that you possess this virtue, you should exercise a great, and even a very great, watchfulness over yourselves. And you ought to avoid all occasions and companions that do not draw you closer to God. Strive earnestly in all your actions and words to conquer your self-will. Avoid saying anything that would not edify others: avoid all conversations that are not of God.

Resolute Striving for Perfection

Much must be done to implant this holy fear of God deeply in the soul. But we shall acquire it much sooner if we are inflamed with true love, and especially if we have the resolute determination never to commit the slightest offense against God. We ought to be willing to endure a thousand deaths, just to avoid one single venial sin. Doubtlessly, we shall fall from time to time, for after all, we are lamentably weak. We ought, as a result, ever to be mistrustful of ourselves. And the firmer our resolutions are, the less we ought to trust ourselves. Our entire confidence must rest in God alone.

Advantage of a Holy Liberty

When you realize that you posses these dispositions of which I have just spoken, it is no longer necessary to be constrained and timid. Our Lord will strengthen you, and your good habits will keep you from offending Him. Act now with holy liberty in your lawful dealings with others, even with the worldly. Such people cannot harm you, now that you have a supreme horror of sin. On the contrary, they will incite you to deepen your resolutions still more, inasmuch as they show
you what a difference there is between good and evil. If before you possessed the true fear of God, these persons were a danger to your soul and a source of spiritual death, they will now inspire you to love and praise God all the more, for having snatched you from such manifest danger. Formerly, you may have encouraged them in their weaknesses; now you can rescue them by your very presence. Even though they may have no intention of honoring you, your presence will influence them for the better.

Beneficent Influence of Holy Persons
 
I often praise God when I reflect upon the source of this beneficent influence. Very frequently, a true servant of God, without speaking a word, can silence blasphemies merely by his presence. The same thing happens in the world. One always respects a friend of ours in our presence; and even though the person be absent, no one will criticize him, simply because he is known to be our friend. A person in the state of grace has a like influence. The state of grace itself causes the person to be respected, however humble his condition may be. People will avoid causing him distress when they observe how pained he is by an offense against God. I do not understand the precise reason for this; but I know that this is usually the case.

Avoidance of Undue Constraint

Avoid undue constraint in your conduct. When a soul begins to be excessively restrained, it finds itself restriced in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it becomes a prey of scruples and consequently becomes useless to itself and to others. But even if it does not go that far, it will not lead many souls to God, though it work for its own personal sanctification. Human nature is so constituted that the very sight of restraint and stiffness will frighten and repel others from following the way that you pursue, even though it may appear more conductive to virtue. Rather than risk the danger of such constraint, a person will give up the idea of seriously cultivating virtue.

Danger of Uncharitable Judgments

Another danger arises from this. There will be a tendency to judge others unfavorably, even though they be holier, because they follow a different way than you do. If they act freely and without constraint, in an effort to be helpful to others, you immediately judge them to be imperfect. If you see them give themselves up to holy joy, you consider them dissipated. This is particularly the tendency of pious women who, for want of learning, do not know how to deal with people without committing faults. This is very dangerous, for it is a source of continual and vexing temptations, as well as an injury to one's neighbor. Briefly, it is extremely blameworthy to think that those who are less constrained than ourselves are not as perfect as we are.

Undue Timidity

There is still another difficulty. In certain circumstances, when you talk with others, or when you are obliged to deal with them, you will be timid about doing so through fear of not being sufficiently reserved on some points. And so, perhaps you may even commend that which you should have discountenanced.

Importance of Affability

Strive to be affable, in so far as you are able, without offending God. Deal with all persons in such a way that they will enjoy your conversation, and will even wish to imitate your life and manners. Then they will not be terrified by virtue, or prejudiced against it. This counsel is extremely important for nuns. The more saintly they are, the more gracious they should be with their Sisters. If you sincerely wish to be helpful and acceptable to others, never leave their company, even though their conversation may be unpleasant, and may cause you vexation. Strive earnestly to be affable and agreeable. Aim to please all the persons who deal with you, and particularly your Sisters.

Danger of Narrowness of Vision

Understand very clearly that contrary to what you may think, God does not concern Himself with such trivial matters. Protect your soul and your spirit from scruples; otherwise you will suffer great loss. Let your intention be upright and your will resolutely determined never to offend God. Do not constrain your soul; for instead of inspiring it to sanctity, you will multiply imperfections, into which Satan will lure you. Nor, as I have said, will you be as helpful to yourself or others, as you might have been.

Confident Trust in God

You understand now how with these two virtues of love and fear of God, we can follow the way of perfection with calm and peace. Therefore, do not look for pitfalls at your every step; if you do, you will never attain to perfection. Since, however, you can never be absolutely sure that we possess these two essential virtues, we should always be on the alert. Fear, consequently, should always be in the vanguard. As long as we remain on earth, we shall never have complete assurance; for the matter, it would even be dangerous for us. It was because He knew this that our Lord, filled with compassion at the sight of a life of uncertainties, temptations, and dangers, has appropriately taught us to beg, as He Himself prayed, "to be delivered from evil."

 

 


 

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