of Avila (1515- 1582)
Catholic belief, prayers and spiritual teaching
of Avila (1515- 1582)
By St Teresa of Avila
In which there are four Chapters.
Treats of the striking effects produced by this prayer aforementioned. It is necessary to observe and remember the effects it produces, for the difference between them and those already described is remarkable.
As we are saying, then, this little butterfly has now
died, full of joy at having found rest, and within
her lives Christ. Let us see what her new life is
like, and how different it is from her earlier one,
for it is by the effects which result from this
prayer that we shall know if what has been said is
true. As far as I can understand, the effects are
If they knew for certain that, on leaving the body,
they would have fruition of God, their attitude would
not be affected, nor is it altered when they think of
the glory which belongs to the saints, for they do
not desire as yet to attain this. Their conception of
glory is of being able in some way to help the
Crucified, especially when they see how often people
offend Him and how few there are who really care
about His honour and are detached from everything
These souls have a marked detachment from everything and a desire to be always either alone or busy with something that is to some soul's advantage. They have no aridities or interior trials but a remembrance of Our Lord and a tender love for Him, so that they would like never to be doing anything but giving Him praise.
When the soul is negligent, the Lord Himself awakens
it in the way that has been described, so that it
sees quite clearly that this impulse, or whatever it
is called, proceeds from the interior of the soul, as
we said when discussing these impulses. It is now
felt very gently, but it proceeds neither from the
thought nor from the memory, nor can it be supposed
that the soul has had any part in it. This is so
usual and occurs so frequently that it has been
observed with special care: just as the flames of a
fire, however great, never travel downwards, but
always upwards, so here it is evident that this
interior movement proceeds from the centre of the
soul and awakens the faculties.
When this experience comes to you, remember that it belongs to this innermost Mansion, where God dwells in our souls, and give Him fervent praise, for it is He who sends it to you, like a message, or a letter, written very lovingly and in such a way that He would have you alone be able to understand what He has written and what He is asking of you in it. On no account must you fail to answer His Majesty, even if you are busy with exterior affairs and engaged in conversation.
It may often happen that Our Lord will be pleased to
bestow this secret favour upon you in public, as your
reply must needs be an interior one, it will be very
easy for you to do what I say and make an act of love
or exclaim with Saint Paul: "Lord, what wilt Thou
have me to do?" Then He will show you many ways
of pleasing Him. For now is the accepted time: He
seems indeed to be listening to us and this delicate
touch almost always prepares the soul to be able to
do, with a resolute will, what He has commanded it.
Previously, the poor little butterfly was always so worried that everything frightened her and made her fly away. But it is not so now, whether because she has found her rest, or because the soul has seen so much in this Mansion that it can be frightened at nothing, or because it no longer has that solitude which it was wont to have, now that it is enjoying such companionship.
Well, sisters, I do not know what the reason may be,
but, when the Lord begins to reveal the contents of
this Mansion and brings souls into it, they lose the
great weakness which was such a trial to them and of
which previously they could not rid themselves.
Perhaps the reason is that the Lord has so greatly
strengthened and dilated and equipped the soul, or it
may be that, for reasons which His Majesty alone
knows, He was anxious to make a public revelation of
His secret dealings with such souls, for His
judgments surpass all that we can imagine here on
At other times, they long to reach the end of their
lives so as to be in safety, though they are soon
anxious again to live longer so that they may serve
Him because of the love which they bear Him, as has
been said, and they trust all that concerns
themselves to His mercy. Sometimes the many favours
they receive leave them overwhelmed, and afraid lest
they be like an overladen ship sinking to the bottom
of the sea.