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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Meditation from St. Teresa of Avila

On Prayer:
"All that the beginner in prayer has to do - and you must not forget this, for it is very important -- is to labour and be resolute and prepare himself with all possible diligence to bring his will into conformity with the will of God As I shall say later, you may be quite sure that this comprises the very greatest perfection which can be attained on the spiritual road. The more perfectly a person practises it, the more he will receive of the Lord and the greater the progress he will make on this road; do not think we have to use strange jargon or dabble in things of which we have no knowledge or understanding; our entire welfare is to be found in what I have described. If we go astray at the very beginning and want the Lord to do our will and to lead us just as our fancy dictates, how can this building possibly have a firm foundation? Let us see that we do as much as in us lies and avoid these venomous reptiles, for often it is the Lord's will that we should be persecuted and afflicted by evil thoughts, which we cannot cast out, and also by aridities; and sometimes He even allows these reptiles to bite us, so that we may learn better how to be on our guard in the future and see if we are really grieved at having offended Him.  "If, then, you sometimes fall, do not lose heart, or cease striving to make progress, for even out of your fall God will bring good." (From The Interior Castle)
St. Teresa makes it sound easy doesn't she? But conforming our wills to God's generally involves taking a spiritual knife to ourselves. Jesus said, if a body part causes you to sin, "cut it off." And that's what we need to do in the spiritual sense. Take that tongue that's full of gossip and punish it. My daughter-in-law keeps a spray bottle of vinegar water to discipline the tongue of her little name-calling two year old. The same could be used by an adult as a reminder of the bitterness that gossip can cause. (Remember the bitter herbs from the Seder meal to remind the people of the bitterness of their lives of slavery in Egypt? Remembering is an important element in the spiritual life.) A rubber band around the wrist can be snapped sharply as a reminder when the uncharitable comment escapes our lip or the nasty sarcasm. Conforming our wills to God's isn't like eating instant oatmeal. That challenge is more like slow-cooking steel cut oats that need to boil for a long time.

St. Teresa of Avila, pray for us.

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