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St. Teresa of Avila
Interior Castle

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It is really a perfect misery to be alive when we have always to be going about like men with enemies at their gates, who cannot lay aside their arms even when sleeping or eating, and are always afraid of being surprised by a breaching of their fortress in some weak spot. Oh, my Lord and my God! How canst Thou wish us to desire such a miserable life as that? It would be impossible to refrain from wishing and begging Thee to take us from it, were it not for our hope that we may lose it for Thy sake, or spend it wholly in Thy service -- and, above all, for the realization that it is Thy will for us. If that is indeed so, my God, let us die with Thee, as Saint Thomas said,57 for life without Thee is nothing but death many times over and constant dread at the possibility of losing Thee for ever. So I think, daughters, that the happiness we should pray for is to enjoy the complete security of the blessed;58 for what pleasure can anyone have when beset by these fears if his only pleasure consists in pleasing God? Remember that all this, and much more, could be said of some of the saints, and yet they fell59 into grave sins, and we cannot be certain that God will give us His hand and help us to renounce them60 and do penance for them. (This refers to particular help.)61




57 St. John xi, 16. The last four words are a marginal addition of the author's.


58 Gracián adds "in Heaven"; the addition is deleted by Ribera.


59 Gracián alters this to: "some who, although they are saints [a more exact translation would be "are saintly"], yet fell," but Ribera restores St. Teresa's reading.


60 Gracián alters this to: "we have no certainty of abandoning them and of doing, etc."


61 The bracketed words, which St. Teresa wrote in the margin of the autograph, are crossed out with two strokes. But Ribera has written underneath them: "This is not to be deleted."





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