St. Teresa of Avila’s father dies

November 23, 2021 • 5 min

From Life of St. Teresa of Avila written by Herself, page 50

My father was not the only person whom I prevailed upon to practise prayer, though I was walking in vanity myself.

When I saw persons fond of reciting their prayers, I showed them how to make a meditation, and helped them and gave them books; for from the time I began myself to pray, as I said before, I always had a desire that others should serve God.

I thought, now that I did not myself serve our Lord according to the light I had, that the knowledge His Majesty had given me ought not to be lost, and that others should serve Him for me.

I say this in order to explain the great blindness I was in: going to ruin myself, and labouring to save others.

At this time, that illness befell my father of which he died; it lasted some days. I went to nurse him, being more sick in spirit than he was in body, owing to my many vanities—though not, so far as I know, to the extent of being in mortal sin—through the whole of that wretched time of which I am speaking; for, if I knew myself to be in mortal sin, I would not have continued in it on any account.

I suffered much myself during his illness. I believe I rendered him some service in return for what he had suffered in mine. Though I was very ill, I did violence to myself; and though in losing him I was to lose all the comfort and good of my life—he was all this to me—I was so courageous that I never betrayed my sorrows, concealing them till he was dead, as if I felt none at all.

It seemed as if my very soul were wrenched when I saw him at the point of death—my love for him was so deep.

It was a matter for which we ought to praise our Lord—the death that he died, and the desire he had to die; so also was the advice he gave us after the last anointing, how he charged us to recommend him to God, and to pray for mercy for him, how he bade us serve God always, and consider how all things come to an end.

He told us, with tears, how sorry he was that he had not served Him himself; for he wished he was a friar—I mean, that he had been one in the strictest Order that is.

I have a most assured conviction that our Lord, some fifteen days before, had revealed to him he was not to live; for up to that time, though very ill, he did not think so; but now, though he was somewhat better, and the physicians said so, he gave no heed to them, but employed himself in the ordering of his soul.

His chief suffering consisted in a most acute pain of the shoulders, which never left him: it was so sharp at times, that it put him into great torture. I said to him that, as he had so great a devotion to our Lord carrying His cross on His shoulders, he should now think that His Majesty wished him to feel somewhat of that pain which He then suffered Himself. This so comforted him that I do not think I heard him complain afterwards.

He remained three days without consciousness; but on the day he died our Lord restored him so completely, that we were astonished: he preserved his understanding to the last; for in the middle of the creed, which he repeated himself, he died. He lay there like an angel—such he seemed to me, if I may say so, both in soul and disposition: he was very good.

I know not why I have said this unless it be for the purpose of showing how much the more I am to be blamed for my wickedness; for after seeing such a death, and knowing what his life had been, I, in order to be in any wise like unto such a father, ought to have grown better.

His confessor, a most learned Dominican, used to say that he had no doubt he went straight to heaven. He had heard his confession for some years, and spoke with praise of the purity of his conscience.

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