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Written from Palencia in May 1581, and Addressed to Don Alonzo Velasquez, Bishop of Osma, Who Had Been, When Canon of Toledo, One of the Saint's Confessors.735735 This Relation is usually printed among the letters of the Saint, and Don Vicente did not change the practice, assigning as his reason the Saint's reference in § 4 to certain transactions in which she was engaged. The letter is the 333rd (336th in the second edition), and the 4th of vol. ii., ed. Doblado, and is probably the latest account of the state of her soul, for she died on October 4 in the following year.
1. Oh, that I could clearly explain to your Lordship the peace and quiet my soul has found! for it has so great a certainty of the fruition of God, that it seems to be as if already in possession,736736 See Inner Fortress, vii. ch. ii. though the joy is withheld. I am as one to whom another has granted by deed a large revenue, into the enjoyment and use of which he is to come at a certain time, but until then has nothing but the right already given him to the revenue. In gratitude for this, my soul would abstain from the joy of it, because it has not deserved it; it wishes only to serve Him, even if in great suffering, and at times it thinks it would be very little if, till the end of the world, it had to serve Him who has given it this right; for, in truth, it is in some measure no longer subject, as before, to the miseries of this world; though it suffers more, it seems as if only the habit were struck, for my soul is, as it were, in a fortress with authority, and accordingly does not lose its peace. Still, this confidence does not remove from it its great fear of offending God, nor make it less careful to put away every hindrance to His service, yea, rather, it is more careful than before. But it is so forgetful of its own interests as to seem, in some measure, to have lost itself, so forgetful of self is it in this. Everything is directed to the honour of God, to the doing of His will more and more, and the advancement of His glory.
2. Though this be so, yet, in all that relates to health and the care of the body, it seems to me that I am more careful than I was, that I mortify myself less in my food, and do fewer penances: it is not so with the desires I had; they seem to be greater. All this is done that I may be the better able to serve God in other things, for I offer to Him very often, as a great sacrifice, the care I take of my body, and that wearies me much, and I try it sometimes in acts of mortification; but, after all, this cannot be done without losing health, and I must not neglect what my superiors command. Herein, and in the wish for health, much self-love also must insinuate itself; but, as it seems to me, I feel that it would give me more pleasure, and it gave me more pleasure when I was strong, to do penance, for, at least, I seemed to be doing something, and was giving a good example, and I was free from the vexation which arises out of the fact that I am not serving God at all. Your Lordship will see what it will be best to do in the matter.
3. The imaginary visions have ceased, but the intellectual vision of the Three Persons and of the Sacred Humanity seems ever present, and that, I believe, is a vision of a much higher kind; and I understand now, so I think, that the visions I had came from God, because they prepared my soul for its present state; they were given only because I was so wretched and so weak: God led me by the way which He saw was necessary; but they are, in my opinion, of great worth when they come from God.
4. The interior locutions have not left me, for, whenever it is necessary, our Lord gives me certain directions; and now, in Palencia, were it not for these, there would have been committed a great blunder, though not a sin.737737 This relates to the taking of the hermitage of our Lady de la Calle, in Palencia (De la Fuente). See Foundations, ch. xxix.
5. The acts and desires do not seem to be so vigorous as they used to be, for, though they are great, I have one much greater to see the will of God accomplished and His glory increased; for as the soul is well aware that His Majesty knoweth what is expedient herein, and is so far removed from all self-seeking, these acts and desires quickly end, and, as it seems to me, have no strength. Hence the fear I have at times though without disquietude and pain as formerly, that my soul is dulled, and that I am doing nothing, because I can do no penance; acts of desire for suffering, for martyrdom, and of the vision of God, have no strength in them, and, most frequently, I cannot make them. I seem to live only for eating and drinking, and avoiding pain in everything; and yet this gives me none, except that sometimes, as I said before, I am afraid that this is a delusion; but I cannot believe it, because so far as I can see, I am not under the sway of any strong attachment to any created thing, not even to all the bliss of heaven, but only to the love of God; and this does not grow less,—on the contrary, I believe it is growing, together with the longing that all men may serve Him.
6. But, for all this, one thing amazes me: I have not the feelings I had formerly, so strong and so interior, which tormented me when I saw souls go to their ruin, and when I used to think I had offended God. I cannot have these feelings now, though I believe my desire that God be not sinned against is not less than it was.
7. Your Lordship must consider that in all this, in my present as well as in my previous state, I can do no more, and that it is not in my power to serve Him better: I might do so, if I were not so wicked. I may say, also, that if I were now to make great efforts to wish to die, I could not, nor can I make the acts I used to make, nor feel the pains I felt for having offended God, nor the great fears I had for so many years when
I thought I was under a delusion: and accordingly, I have no need of learned men, or of speaking to anybody at all, only to satisfy myself that I am going the right road now, and whether I can do anything. I have consulted certain persons on this point, with whom I had taken counsel on the others, with Fra Dominic [i.e., Bañes], the Master Medina, and certain members of the Society. I will be satisfied with the answer which you, my Lord, may give me, because of the great trust I have in your Lordship. Consider it carefully, for the love of God! Neither do I cease to learn that certain souls of people connected with me when they died are in heaven: of others I learn nothing. Oh, in what solitude I find myself when I consider that the comparison of which I spoke to you, concerning the return from Egypt, does not apply to the child at my mother's breast.738738 "La soledad que me hace pensar no se puede dar aquel sentido à el que mama los pechos de mi madre, la ida de Egito!" This passage, Don Vicente observes, was omitted in all editions prior to his; he does not know what it means; and the translator can give no corresponding English words. [Transcriber's note: The Spanish quoted here was printed in the body of the text, p. 479; English rendition supplied from Corrigenda, p. [viii].]
8. I am at peace within; and my likings and dislikings have so little power to take from me the Presence of the Three Persons, of which, while it continues, it is so impossible to doubt, that I seem clearly to know by experience what is recorded by St. John, that God will make His dwelling in the soul:739739 St. John xiv. 23: "Mansionem apud eum faciemus." and not only by grace, but because He will have the soul feel that presence, and it brings with it so many blessings, particularly this, that there is no need to run after reflections to learn that God is there. This is almost always the state I am in, except when my great infirmities oppress me. Sometimes, God will have me suffer without any inward comfort; but my will never swerves—not even in its first movements—from the will of God. This resignation to His will is so efficacious, that I desire neither life nor death, except for some moments, when I long to see God; and then the Presence of the Three Persons becomes so distinct as to relieve the pain of the absence, and I wish to live—if such be His good pleasure—to serve Him still longer. And if I
might help, by my prayers, to make but one soul love Him more, and praise Him, and that only for a short time, I think that of more importance than to dwell in glory.
The unworthy servant and daughter of your Lordship,
Teresa de Jesús.
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