St. Teresa of Avila suffers immensely from an illness and lets it conform her will to God’s

November 10, 2021 • 3 min

From Life of St. Teresa of Avila written by Herself, page 30

I remained three months in that place, in the most grievous sufferings; for the treatment was too severe for my constitution. In two months—so strong were the medicines—my life was nearly worn out; and the severity of the pain in the heart, for the cure of which I was there, was much more keen: it seemed to me, now and then, as if it had been seized by sharp teeth. So great was the torment that it was feared it might end in madness.

There was a great loss of strength, for I could eat nothing whatever, only drink. I had a great loathing for food, and a fever that never left me. I was so reduced, for they had given me purgatives daily for nearly a month, and so parched up, that my sinews began to shrink. The pains I had were unendurable, and I was overwhelmed in a most deep sadness, so that I had no rest either night or day.

This was the result; and thereupon my father took me back. Then the physicians visited me again. All gave me up; they said I was also consumptive. This gave me little or no concern; what distressed me were the pains I had—for I was in pain from my head down to my feet. Now, nervous pains, according to the physicians, are intolerable; and all my nerves were shrunk. Certainly, if I had not brought this upon myself by my sins, the torture would have been unendurable.

I was not more than three months in this cruel distress, for it seemed impossible that so many ills could be borne together. I now am astonished at myself, and the patience His Majesty gave me—for it clearly came from Him—I look upon as a great mercy of our Lord.

It was a great help to me to be patient, that I had read the story of Job, in the Morals of St. Gregory (our Lord seems to have prepared me thereby); and that I had begun the practice of prayer, so that I might bear it all, conforming my will to the will of God. All my conversation was with God. I had continually these words of Job in my thoughts and in my mouth: “If we have received good things of the hand of our Lord, why should we not receive evil things?” This seemed to give me courage.

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