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St. Teresa of Avila lacks resignation to God, and takes St. Joseph as her patron

5 min • Digitized on November 17, 2021

From Life of St. Teresa of Avila written by Herself, page 36
By St. Teresa of Avila

All these tokens of the fear of God came to me through prayer; and the greatest of them was this, that fear was swallowed up of love—for I never thought of chastisement. All the time I was so ill, my strict watch over my conscience reached to all that is mortal sin.

O my God! I wished for health, that I might serve Thee better; that was the cause of all my ruin. For when I saw how helpless I was through paralysis, being still so young, and how the physicians of this world had dealt with me, I determined to ask those of heaven to help me—for I wished, nevertheless, to be well, though I bore my illness with great joy.

Sometimes, too, I used to think that if I recovered my health, and yet were lost for ever, I was better as I was. But, for all that, I thought I might serve God much better if I were well.

This is our delusion; we do not resign ourselves absolutely to the disposition of our Lord, Who knows best what is for our good.

I began by having Masses and prayers said for my intention—prayers that were highly sanctioned; for I never liked those other devotions which some people, especially women, make use of with a ceremoniousness to me intolerable, but which moves them to be devout. I have been given to understand since that they were unseemly and superstitious; and I took for my patron and lord the glorious St. Joseph, and recommended myself earnestly to him.

I saw clearly that both out of this my present trouble, and out of others of greater importance, relating to my honour and the loss of my soul, this my father and lord delivered me, and rendered me greater services than I knew how to ask for.

I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything which he has not granted; and I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favours which God hath given me through this blessed Saint; the dangers from which he hath delivered me, both of body and of soul.

To other Saints our Lord seems to have given grace to succour men in some special necessity; but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, to help us in all: and our Lord would have us understand that, as He was Himself subject to him upon earth for St. Joseph, having the title of father, and being His guardian, could command Him—so now in heaven He performs all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they too know this by experience; and there are many who are now of late devout to him, having had experience of this truth.

I used to keep his feast with all the solemnity I could, but with more vanity than spirituality, seeking rather too much splendour and effect, and yet with good intentions. I had this evil in me, that if our Lord gave me grace to do any good, that good became full of imperfections, and of many faults; but as for doing wrong, the indulgence of curiosity and vanity, I was very skilful and active therein. Our Lord forgive me!

Would that I could persuade all men to be devout to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God.

I have never known any one who was really devout to him, and who honoured him by particular services, who did not visibly grow more and more in virtue; for he helps in a special way those souls who commend themselves to him.

It is now some years since I have always on his feast asked him for something, and I always have it. If the petition be in any way amiss, he directs it aright for my greater good.

If I were a person who had authority to write, it would be a pleasure to me to be diffusive in speaking most minutely of the graces which this glorious Saint has obtained for me and for others.

But that I may not go beyond the commandment that is laid upon me, I must in many things be more brief than I could wish, and more diffusive than is necessary in others; for, in short, I am a person who, in all that is good, has but little discretion.

But I ask, for the love of God, that he who does not believe me will make the trial for himself—when he will see, by experience, the great good that results from commending oneself to this glorious patriarch, and being devout to him.

Those who give themselves to prayer should in a special manner have always a devotion to St. Joseph; for I know not how any man can think of the Queen of the angels, during the time that she suffered so much with the infant Jesus, without giving thanks to St. Joseph for the services he rendered them then.

He who cannot find any one to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious Saint for his master, and he will not wander out of the way.

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