St. Teresa of Avila begins to pray after many years of avoiding it

November 27, 2021 • 4 min

From Life of St. Teresa of Avila written by Herself, page 57
By St. Teresa of Avila

CHAPTER VIII.

THE SAINT CEASES NOT TO PRAY. PRAYER THE WAY TO RECOVER WHAT IS LOST. ALL EXHORTED TO PRAY. THE GREAT ADVANTAGE OF PRAYER, EVEN TO THOSE WHO MAY HAVE CEASED FROM IT.

Of the great advantages she derived from not entirely abandoning prayer so as not to lose her soul; and what an excellent remedy this is, in order to win back what one has lost. She exhorts everybody to practise prayer, and shows what a gain it is, even if one should have given it up for a time, to make use of so great a good.

It is not without reason that I have dwelt so long on this portion of my life. I see clearly that it will give no one pleasure to see anything so base; and certainly I wish those who may read this to have me in abhorrence, as a soul so obstinate and so ungrateful to Him Who did so much for me.

I could wish, too, I had permission to say how often at this time I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer. I passed nearly twenty years on this stormy sea, falling and rising, but rising to no good purpose, seeing that I went and fell again.

My life was one of perfection; but it was so mean that I scarcely made any account whatever of venial sins, and though of mortal sins I was afraid, I was not so afraid of them as I ought to have been, because I did not avoid the perilous occasions of them.

I may say that it was the most painful life that can be imagined, because I had no sweetness in God and no pleasure in the world.

When I was in the midst of the pleasures of the world, the remembrance of what I owed to God made me sad, and when I was praying to God my worldly affections disturbed me. This is so painful a struggle that I know not how I could have borne it for a month, let alone for so many years.

Nevertheless, I can trace distinctly the great mercy of our Lord to me, while thus immersed in the world, in that I had still the courage to pray. I say courage, because I know of nothing in the whole world which requires greater courage than plotting treason against the King, knowing that He knows it, and yet never withdrawing from His presence; for, granting that we are always in the presence of God, yet it seems to me that those who pray are in His presence in a very different sense; for they, as it were, see that He is looking upon them, while others may be for days together without even once recollecting that God sees them.

It is true, indeed, that during these years there were many months, and, I believe, occasionally a whole year, in which I so kept guard over myself that I did not offend our Lord, gave myself much to prayer, and took some pains, and that successfully, not to offend Him.

I speak of this now because all I am saying is strictly true; but I remember very little of those good days, and so they must have been few, while my evil days were many. Still, the days that passed over without my spending a great part of them in prayer were few, unless I was very ill, or very much occupied.

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