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St. Teresa of Avila cautions parents about bad books and dressing up

2 min • Digitized on October 23, 2021

From Life of St. Teresa of Avila written by Herself, page 6
By St. Teresa of Avila


Early Impressions. Dangerous Books and Companions. The Saint is placed in a Convent.

How she lost these virtues and how important it is to deal from childhood with virtuous persons.

What I shall now speak of was, I believe, the beginning of great harm to me. I often think how wrong it is of parents not to be very careful that their children should always, and in every way, see only that which is good; for though my mother was, as I have just said, so good herself, nevertheless I, when I came to the use of reason, did not derive so much good from her as I ought to have done—almost none at all; and the evil I learned did me much harm.

She was very fond of books of chivalry; but this pastime did not hurt her so much as it hurt me, because she never wasted her time on them; only we, her children, were left at liberty to read them; and perhaps she did this to distract her thoughts from her great sufferings, and occupy her children, that they might not go astray in other ways.

It annoyed my father so much that we had to be careful he never saw us. I contracted a habit of reading these books; and this little fault which I observed in my mother was the beginning of lukewarmness in my good desires, and the occasion of my falling away in other respects.

I thought there was no harm in it when I wasted many hours night and day in so vain an occupation, even when I kept it secret from my father. So completely was I mastered by this passion that I thought I could never be happy without a new book.

I began to make much of dress, to wish to please others by my appearance. I took pains with my hands and my hair, used perfumes, and all vanities within my reach and they were many, for I was very much given to them. I had no evil intention, because I never wished any one to offend God for me. This fastidiousness of excessive neatness lasted some years; and so also did other practices, which I thought then were not at all sinful; now, I see how wrong all this must have been.

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