Tuesday, September 18, 2012


We are trying to obtain union with God. We want to follow the words of Christ, who was loaded with reproaches and falsely accused. Can we care then about keeping our own reputation and credit intact? The aims are irreconcilable, since they are not on the same road. When we do violence to ourselves, and try in various ways to give up our rights, then the Lord comes to the soul. Some will say: 'I have nothing to give up. I never get opportunities for denying myself.' But if anyone is really determined, I do not think the Lord will let him lose this blessing. His Majesty will arrange so many ways in which he may gain virtue that he will soon have more than he wants. All hands to the task! Set to work, I mean, on some matters of little or no consequence, as I used to do when I began. Try at least to deal with a few of them. These are the straws, as I have said, and I throw them on the fire. That is all I am good for. But the Lord accepts them all. May He be blessed for ever.
St. Teresa of Avila, The Life of Saint Teresa

The saints are so counter-cultural. Of course, the Church teaches that we do have rights, but it always seems to me that while we should insist on them for everyone else, we ought to be willing to surrender our own as our Lord did when, "...though He was in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave...."

Not, of course, that I'm very good at this at all. I might manage to do it sometimes but at the very same time I am congratulating myself for being so humble, and thanking God that I am not like other men. Once I heard a retreat master say that the trouble with pride was that as soon as you defeat it on one front, it jumps up and knocks you down from the back.

It's very good of Our Lord to let us know that the saints had these same problems. You can be good for nothing but throwing a few straws on the fire and still end up a Doctor of the Church. May He be blessed forever.



  1. "His Majesty will arrange so many ways in which he may gain virtue that he will soon have more than he wants."

    Indeed. Most of us don't want a whole lot of virtue. Just enough to let us think we aren't *so* bad. At least it's that way with me.

    T-Bone Burnett has a good song called "Trap Door" about, among other things, the way you immediately lose a virtue by recognizing that you have it.

  2. Hmmm. I don't know. It seems to me that it's a lot harder to try and maintain any kind of spiritual growth at the same level (might be impossible) than it is to keep trying to move on. It's like the story of the guy with the one talent.