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Of Certain Spiritual Graces She Received in Toledo and Avila in the Years 1576 and 1577.
1. I had begun to go to confession to a certain person709709 F. Yepes, then prior of St. Jerome's, Toledo (De la Fuente). in the city wherein I am at present staying, when he, though he had much good will towards me, and always has had since he took upon himself the charge of my soul, ceased to come here; and one night, when I was in prayer, and thinking how he failed me, I understood that God kept him from coming because it was expedient for me to treat of the affairs of my soul with a certain person on the spot.710710 Don Alonzo Velasquez, canon of Toledo, to whom Relation xi. is addressed. The Saint speaks of this in a letter to Fra Gratian in 1576. The letter is numbered 82 in the edition of Don Vicente, and 23 in the fourth volume of the edition of Doblado. I was distressed because I had to form new relations—it might be he would not understand me, and would disturb me—and because I had a great affection for him who did me this charity, though I was always spiritually content when I saw or heard the latter preach; also, I thought it would not do because of his many occupations. Our Lord said to me: "I will cause him to hear and understand thee. Make thyself known unto him; it will be some relief to thee in thy troubles." The latter part was addressed to me, I think, because I was then so worn out by the absence of God. His Majesty also said that He saw very well the trouble I was in; but it could not be otherwise while I lived in this land of exile: all was for my good; and he comforted me greatly. So it has been: he comforts me, and seeks opportunities to do so; he has understood me, and given me great relief; he is a most learned and holy man.
2. One day,—it was the Feast of the Presentation,—I was praying earnestly to God for a certain person, and thinking that after all the possession of property and of freedom was unfitting for that high sanctity which I wished him to attain to; I reflected on his weak health, and on the spiritual health which he communicated to souls; and I heard these words: "He serves Me greatly; but the great thing is to follow Me stripped of everything, as I was on the cross. Tell him to trust in Me." These last words were said because I thought he could not, with his weak health, attain to such perfection.
3. Once, when I was thinking of the pain it was to me to eat meat and do no penance, I understood that there was at times more of self-love in that feeling than of a desire for penance.
4. Once, when I was in great distress because of my offences against God, He said to me: "All thy sins in My sight are as if they were not. For the future, be strong; for thy troubles are not over."
5. One day, in prayer, I felt my soul in God in such a way that it seemed to me as if the world did not exist, I was so absorbed in Him. He made me then understand that verse of the Magnificat, "Et exultavit spiritus meus," so that I can never forget it.
6. Once, when I was thinking how people sought to destroy this monastery of the Barefooted Carmelites, and that they purposed, perhaps, to bring about the destruction of them all by degrees, I heard: "They do purpose it; nevertheless, they will never see it done, but very much the reverse."
7. Once, in deep recollection, I was praying to God for Eliseus;711711 Fra Jerome Gratian (De la Fuente). I heard this: "He is My true son; I will never fail him," or to that effect; but I am not sure of the latter words.
8. Having one day conversed with a person who had given up much for God, and calling to mind that I had given up nothing for Him, and had never served Him in anything, as I was bound to do, and then considering the many graces He had wrought in my soul, I began to be exceedingly weary; and our Lord said to me: "Thou knowest of the betrothal between thee and Myself, and therefore all I have is thine; and so I give thee all the labours and sorrows I endured, and thou canst therefore ask of My Father as if they were thine." Though I have heard that we are partakers therein,712712 1 St. Peter iv. 13: "Communicantes Christi passionibus, gaudete." now it was in a way so different that it seemed as if I had become possessed of a great principality; for the affection with which He wrought this grace cannot be described. The Father seemed to ratify the gift; and from that time forth I look at our Lord's Passion in a very different light, as on something that belongs to me; and that gives me great comfort.713713 This took place in 1575, when she was going to found her monastery in Seville (Ribera, l. iv. c. v. n. 110).
9. On the Feast of the Magdalene, when thinking of the great love I am bound to have for our Lord, according to the words He spoke to, me in reference to this Saint, and having great desires to imitate her, our Lord was very gracious unto me, and said, I was to be henceforward strong; for I had to serve Him more than I had hitherto done.714714 See § 4, above. He filled me with a desire not to die so soon, that I might have the time to occupy myself therein; and I remained with a great resolution to suffer.
10. On one occasion, I understood how our Lord was in all things, and how He was in the soul; and the illustration of a sponge filled with water was suggested to me.
11. When my brothers came,—and I owe so much to one of them,715715 This was in 1575, when the Saint was founding the monastery of Seville; and the brother was Don Lorenzo, returned from the Indies, and who now placed himself under the direction of his sister (De la Fuente).—I remained in conversation with him concerning his soul and his affairs, which wearied and distressed me; and as I was offering this up to our Lord, and thinking that I did it all because I was under obligations to him, I remembered that by our Constitutions716716 In the Chapter "De la Clausura," § 16: "De tratar con deudos se desvien lo mas que pudieren." we are commanded to separate ourselves from our kindred, and I was set thinking whether I was under any obligation, our Lord said to me: "No, My daughter; the regulations of the Order must be only in conformity with My law." The truth is, that the end of the Constitutions is, that we are not to be attached to our kindred; and to converse with them, as it seems to me, is rather wearisome, and it is painful to have anything to do with them.
12. After Communion, on St. Augustine's Day, I
understood, and, as it were, saw,—I cannot tell how, unless it was by an intellectual vision which passed rapidly away,—how the Three Persons of the most Holy Trinity, whom I have always imprinted in my soul, are One. This was revealed in a representation so strange, and in a light so clear, that the impression made upon me was very different from that which I have by faith. From that time forth I have never been able to think of One of the Three Divine Persons without thinking of the Three; so that to-day, when I was considering how, the Three being One, the Son alone took our flesh upon Him, our Lord showed me how, though They are One, They are also distinct. These are marvels which make the soul desire anew to be rid of the hindrances which the body interposes between it and the fruition of them. Though this passes away in a moment, there remains a gain to the soul incomparably greater than any it might have made by meditation during many years; and all without knowing how it happens.
13. I have a special joy on the Feast of our Lady's Nativity. When this day was come, I thought it would be well to renew our vows; and thereupon I saw our Lady, by an illuminative vision; and it seemed as if we made them before her and that they were pleasing unto her. I had this vision constantly for some days, and our Lady was by me on my left hand. One day, after Communion, it seemed to me that my soul was really one with the most Holy Body of our Lord, then present before me; and that wrought a great work and blessing in me.
14. I was once thinking whether I was to be sent to reform a certain monastery;717717 The monastery of Paterna, of the unreformed Carmelites. This was in 1576 (De la Fuente). and, distressed at it, I heard: "What art thou afraid of? What canst thou lose?—only thy life, which thou hast so often offered to Me. I will help thee." This was in prayer, which was of such a nature as to ease my soul exceedingly.
15. Once, having a desire to render some service to our Lord, I considered that I could serve Him but poorly, and said to myself: "Why, O Lord, dost Thou desire my works?" And He answered: "To see thy good will, My child."
16. Once our Lord gave me light in a matter that I was very glad to understand, and I immediately forgot it, so that I was never able to call it again to mind; and so, when I was trying to remember it, I heard: "Thou knowest now that I speak to thee from time to time. Do not omit to write down what I say; for, though it may not profit thee, it may be that it will profit others." As I was thinking whether I, for my sins, had to be of use to others, and be lost myself, He said to me: "Have no fear."
17. I was once recollected in that companionship which I ever have in my soul, and it seemed to me that God was present therein in such a way that I remembered how St. Peter said: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God;"718718 St. Matt. xvi. 16: "Tu es Christus, Filius Dei vivi." for the living God was in my soul. This is not like other visions, for it overpowers faith; so that it is impossible to doubt of the indwelling of the Trinity in our souls, by presence, power, and essence. To know this truth is of the very highest gain; and as I stood amazed to see His Majesty in a thing so vile as my soul, I heard: "It is not vile, My child, for it is made in My image."719719 Gen. i. 26: "Ad imaginem et similitudinem Nostram." I also learnt something of the reason why God delights in souls more than in any other creatures: it is so subtile that, though the understanding quickly comprehended it, I cannot tell it.
18. When I was in such distress, because of the troubles of our father,720720 Fra Jerome Gratian. This took place during the persecution that fell on the reformed Carmelites at the end of the year 1575, and during the following year. See the last paragraph of this Relation (De la Fuente; see, also, Relation vi. § 1). that I had no rest, and after Communion one day was making most earnestly my petition to our Lord that, as He had given him to me, I might not lose him, He said to me: "Have no fear."
19. Once, with that presence of the Three Persons which I have in my soul, I was in light so clear that no doubt of the presence of the true and living God was possible; and I then came to the knowledge of things which afterwards I could not speak of. One of these things was, how the person of the Son only took human flesh. I cannot, as I have just said, explain it at all; for some of these things were wrought in the secret recesses of the soul, and the understanding seems to grasp them only as one who is in his sleep, or half awake, thinks he comprehends what is told him. I was thinking how hard it was to remain alive, seeing that it was living on that robbed us of that marvellous companionship; and so I said to myself: "O Lord, show me some way whereby I may bear this life!" He said unto me: "Think, my child, when life is over, thou canst not serve Me as thou art serving Me now, and eat for Me, and sleep for Me. Whatsoever thou doest, let it be done for Me as if thou wert no longer living, but I; for that is what St. Paul said."721721 Galat. ii. 20: "Vivo autem, jam non ego: vivit vero in me Christus."
20. Once, after Communion, I saw how His Father within our soul accepts the most Holy Body of Christ. I have understood and seen how the Divine Persons are there, and how pleasing is this offering of His Son, because He has His joy and delight in Him, so to speak, here on earth; for it is not the Humanity only that is with us in our, souls, but the Divinity as well, and thus is it so pleasing and acceptable unto Him, and gives us graces so great. I understood also that He accepts the sacrifice, though the priest be in sin; but then the grace of it is not communicated to his soul as it is to their souls who are in a state of grace: not that the inflowings of grace, which proceed from this Communion wherein the Father accepts the sacrifice, cease to flow in their strength, but because of his fault who has to receive them; as it is not the fault of the sun that it does not illumine a lump of pitch, when its rays strike it as it illumines a globe of crystal. If I could now describe it, I should be better understood; it is a great matter to know this, because there are grand secrets within us when we are at Communion. It is sad that these bodies of ours do not allow us to have the fruition thereof.
21. During the Octave of All Saints,722722 A.D. 1577 (De la Fuente). I had two or three days of exceeding anguish, the result of my remembrance of my great sins, and I was also in great dread of persecutions, which had no foundation except that great accusations were brought against me, and all my resolutions to suffer anything for God failed me: though I sought to encourage myself, and made corresponding acts, and saw that all would be a great pain for me, it was to little purpose, for the fear never left me. It was a sharp warfare. I came across a letter, in which my good father723723 Jerome Gratian (id.). had written that St. Paul said that our God does not suffer us to be tempted beyond our power to bear.724724 1 Cor. x. 13: "Fidelis autem Deus est qui non patietur vos tentari supra id quod potestis." This was a very great relief to me, but was not enough; yea, rather, on the next day I was in great distress at his absence, for I had no one to go to in this trouble, for I seemed to be living in great loneliness. And it added to my grief to see that I now find no one but he who can comfort me, and he must be more than ever away, which is a very sore trouble.
22. The next night after this, reading in a book, I found another saying of St. Paul, with which I began to be comforted; and being slightly recollected, I remained thinking how I had our Lord before present within me, so that I truly saw Him to be the living God. While thinking on this He spoke to me, and I saw Him in my inmost being, as it were beside my heart, in an intellectual vision; His words were: "I am here, only I will have thee see how little thou canst do without Me." I was on the instant reassured, and my fears left me; and while at Matins that very night our Lord Himself, in an intellectual vision so clear as to seem almost imaginary, laid Himself in my arms, as He is painted in the pictures of our Lady of Anguish.725725 Don Vicente says, that here is a proof—if any were wanting—that the Saint wrote this after her sojourn in Seville; because in Avila and in Castile and Aragon the expression is, "our Lady of Dolors;" while in Andalucia it is our Lady of Anguish—"Nuestra Señora de las Angustias." The vision made me very much afraid, for it was so clear, and so close to me, that it made me think whether it was an illusion or not. He said to me, "Be not afraid of it, for the union of My Father with thy soul is incomparably closer than this." The vision has remained with me till now. What I have said of our Lord continued more than a month: now it has left me.
23. I was one night in great distress, because it was then a long time since I had heard anything of my father;726726 Fra Jerome Gratian. and, moreover, he was not well the last time he wrote to me. However, my distress was not so great as that I felt before, for I had hopes, and distress like that I never was in since; but still my anxiety hindered my prayer. He appeared to me on the instant; it could not have been the effect of imagination, for I saw a light within me, and himself coming by the way joyous, with a face all fair. It must have been the light I saw that made his face fair, for all the saints in heaven seem so; and I considered whether it be the light and splendour proceeding from our Lord that render them thus fair. I heard this: "Tell him to begin at once without fear, for the victory is his."
24. One day, after he came, when I was at night giving thanks to our Lord for the many mercies He had given unto me, He said to me: "O my child, what canst thou ask that I have not done?"
25. Our Lord said to me one day, in the monastery of Veas, that I was to present my petition to Him, for I was His bride. He promised to grant whatever I might ask of Him, and, as a pledge, gave me a very beautiful ring, with a stone set in it like an amethyst, but of a brilliancy very unlike, which He put on my finger. I write this to my own confusion, considering the goodness of God, and my wretched life; for I have deserved hell. Ah! my daughters, pray to God for me, and be devout to St. Joseph, who can do much. This folly I write . . . folly I write. . . .
26. On the eve of St. Laurence, at Communion, I was so distracted and dissipated in mind, that I had no power over it, and began to envy those who dwell in desert places; thinking that, as they see and hear nothing, they are exempt from distractions. I heard this: "Thou art greatly deceived, My daughter; on the contrary, the temptations of Satan are more violent there. Have patience while life lasts, it cannot be helped." While dwelling on this, I became suddenly recollected, and I saw a great light within me, so that I thought I was in another world, and my spirit found itself interiorly in a forest and in a garden of delights, which made me remember those words of the Canticle:727727 Cant. v. 1. "Veniat dilectus meus in hortum suum." I saw my Eliseus728728 This was the name given to Fra Jerome Gratian, when the Saint was driven, by the persecution raised against her, to distinguish her friends by other designations than those by which they were usually known: this fragment cannot have been written before the year 1578 (De la Fuente). there, not at all swarthy, but in strange beauty: around his head was a garland of precious stones; a multitude of damsels went before him with palms in their hands, all singing hymns of praise unto God. I did nothing but open my eyes, to see whether I could not distract myself from the vision, but that failed to divert my attention; and I thought there was music also,—the singing of birds and of angels,—which filled my soul with joy, though I did not hear any. My soul was in joy, and did not consider that there was nobody else there. I heard these words: "He has merited to be among you, and all this rejoicing which thou beholdest will take place on the day he shall set aside for the honour of My Mother;729729 See the last section. and do thou make haste, if thou wouldst reach the place where he is." This vision lasted more than an hour and a half. In this respect—differently from my other visions—I could not turn away from it, and it filled me with delight. The effect of the vision was a great affection for Eliseus, and a more frequent thinking of him in that beauty. I have had a fear of its being a temptation, for work of the imagination it could not possibly be.730730 Don Vicente published §§ 25 and 26 as fragments separately (vol. i. pp. 524–526); but, as they seem to form a part of the series of events spoken of in this Relation, they have been placed here.
27. The day after the presentation of the Brief,731731 Fra Jerome Gratian exhibited the brief which made him Visitor-Apostolic to the unreformed Carmelites, who were very angry thereat, and rude in their vexation. as I was in the most eager expectation, which utterly disturbed me, so that I could not even pray,—for I had been told that our father was in great straits because they would not let him come away, and that there was a great tumult,—I heard these words: "O woman of little faith, be quiet; everything is going on perfectly well." It was the Feast of the Presentation of our Lady, in the year 1575. I resolved within myself, if our Lady obtained from her Son that we might see ourselves and our father free of these friars, to ask him to order the solemn celebration of that feast every year in our monasteries of the Barefooted Carmelites. When I made this resolution, I did not remember what I had heard in a former vision, that he would establish this solemnity. Now, in reading again this little paper, I think this must be the feast referred to.732732 See § 26.
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