St. Teresa of Avila increases her resignation to God’s will through intense suffering and a long paralysis

November 13, 2021 • 3 min

From Life of St. Teresa of Avila written by Herself, page 33

CHAPTER VI.

THE GREAT DEBT SHE OWED TO OUR LORD FOR HIS MERCY TO HER. SHE TAKES ST. JOSEPH FOR HER PATRON.

Of the great debt she owes God for giving her conformity of will in her trials, and how she turned towards the glorious St. Joseph as her helper and advocate, and how much she profited thereby.

After those four days, during which I was insensible, so great was my distress, that our Lord alone knoweth the intolerable sufferings I endured.

My tongue was bitten to pieces; there was a choking in my throat because I had taken nothing, and because of my weakness, so that I could not swallow even a drop of water; all my bones seemed to be out of joint, and the disorder of my head was extreme.

I was bent together like a coil of ropes—for to this was I brought by the torture of those days—unable to move either arm, or foot, or hand, or head, any more than if I had been dead, unless others moved me; I could move, however, I think, one finger of my right hand.

Then, as to touching me, that was impossible, for I was so bruised that I could not endure it. They used to move me in a sheet, one holding one end and another the other.

This lasted till Palm Sunday.

The only comfort I had was this—if no one came near me, my pains frequently ceased; and then, because I had a little rest, I considered myself well, for I was afraid my patience would fail; and thus I was exceedingly happy when I saw myself free from those pains which were so sharp and constant, though in the cold fits of an intermittent fever, which were most violent, they were still unendurable. My dislike of food was very great.

I was now so anxious to return to my monastery, that I had myself conveyed thither in the state I was in. There they received alive one whom they had waited for as dead; but her body was worse than dead; the sight of it could only give pain.

It is impossible to describe my extreme weakness, for I was nothing but bones. I remained in this state, as I have already said, more than eight months; and was paralytic, though getting better, for about three years.

I praised God when I began to crawl on my hands and knees. I bore all this with great resignation, and—if I except the beginning of my illness—with great joy; for all this was as nothing in comparison with the pains and tortures I had to bear at first.

I was resigned to the will of God, even if He left me in this state for ever. My anxiety about the recovery of my health seemed to be grounded on my desire to pray in solitude, as I had been taught; for there was no means of doing so in the infirmary.

I went to confession most frequently, spoke much about God, and in such a way as to edify every one; and they all marvelled at the patience which our Lord gave me—for if it had not come from the hand of His Majesty, it seemed impossible to endure so great an affliction with so great a joy.

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