St. Teresa of Avila’s harmful experiences with imprudent and unknowledgeable confessors

November 6, 2021 • 2 min

From Life of St. Teresa of Avila written by Herself, page 26

In the place to which I had gone for my cure lived a priest of good birth and understanding, with some learning, but not much.

I went to confession to him, for I was always fond of learned men, although confessors indifferently learned did my soul much harm; for I did not always find confessors whose learning was as good as I could wish it was.

I know by experience that it is better, if the confessors are good men and of holy lives, that they should have no learning at all, than a little; for such confessors never trust themselves without consulting those who are learned—nor would I trust them myself: and a really learned confessor never deceived me.

Neither did the others willingly deceive me, only they knew no better; I thought they were learned, and that I was not under any other obligation than that of believing them, as their instructions to me were lax, and left me more at liberty—for if they had been strict with me, I am so wicked, I should have sought for others.

That which was a venial sin, they told me was no sin at all; of that which was most grievously mortal, they said it was venial.

This did me so much harm, that it is no wonder I should speak of it here as a warning to others, that they may avoid an evil so great; for I see clearly that in the eyes of God I was without excuse, that the things I did being in themselves not good, this should have been enough to keep me from them.

I believe that God, by reason of my sins, allowed those confessors to deceive themselves and to deceive me. I myself deceived many others by saying to them what had been said to me.

I continued in this blindness, I believe, more than seventeen years, till a most learned Dominican Father [F. Vicente Baron.] undeceived me in part, and those of the Company of Jesus made me altogether so afraid, by insisting on the erroneousness of these principles, as I shall hereafter show. [See ch. xxiii.]

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