When I say mortified, this is not to make you believe that I was always doing penances. Alas! I never did a single one . . . . My mortifications consisted in breaking my will, which was always ready to impose itself; in holding my tongue instead of answering back; in doing little things for others without hoping to get anything in return; in not slumping back when I was sitting down; etc., etc.
~The Story of a Soul, St. St.Thérèse of Lisieux
Oh yeah. I remember when I broke my will. That was really easy stuff. And holding my tongue, well, any of you who know me in person know that I'm a master of discretion. Of course, I do actually succeed at holding my tongue occasionally, I just don't know what to do about the rest of my face.
As I've previously mentioned, I'm currently reading Saint Teresa of Avila's Autobiography in the morning during my prayer time and Heather King's book about her thoughts on Story of a Soul, later in the day just for reading. It's a very interesting contrast. Teresa has this very detailed description of what happens at each stage of prayer. Thérèse is just the opposite. She says:
I wouldn't know how to recite [all the beautiful prayers in books]. Not knowing which one to choose, I do as children do who don't know how to read: I very simply tell God what I want to tell Him, without making beautiful phrases, and He always understands me.
Ms. King says, "The goal in prayer, isn't to do anything 'right,' to acquire a technique, Thérèse seemed to be saying. The goal is surrender." Of course, when you do surrender, sometimes the results are pretty much exactly the stages that Teresa of Avila delineates.
The prayers of these two saints yielded very different results, too--at least different temporal results. St.Thérèse suffered from a long period of aridity before her death and even before that seldom received any consolations. She said that receiving no consolation was her consolation. St. Teresa, although she endured some aridity, was often flooded with consolation. In the end, though, it all comes to the same thing, or the same Person.