Monday, August 04, 2008

Meditations on the fragments of Chapter 3 of the 'Book of Foundations of Houses of Reformed Carmelites made by St Teresa', will help us to ponder on the greatness of work she made solely for the glory of God and her beloved Order.

How the Convent of St Joseph at Medina del Campo came to be planned

Well, when I was thinking anxiously over all these things, it occurred to me to seek the help of the Fathers of the Company of Jesus, who were in high esteem at Medina. As I have said in the account of the first foundation, these Fathers had guided my soul many years: and I always helf them in special reverence for the great good which they did me. I wrote what our Father General had enjoined on me to the Rector there, who happened to be the one who had heard my confession for many years; as I have said, although I did not give his name; it was Baltasar Alvarez, who is now Provincial. He and the others said they would do what they could in the matter: and they made great efforts to obtain the leave of the townspeople and of the Bishop - for it is always difficult to get leave to establish a house founded without endowment: and so the business took some days to arrange.

To see to this there went a priest, Julian of Avila, a great servant of God, singularly detached from the world and much given to prayer. He was chaplain of the convent in which I was living, and God had given him the same desires that He had given me; and so he has been a great help to me, as will presently be seen. Well, though I now possessed the licence, I had no house nor a penny to buy one, nor any securities on which to get credit. If the Lord did not give it, how could a pilgrim like me possess it? The Lord ordained that a very excellent girl for whom there had not been room at St Joseph's, hearing that another house was to be established, came and asked me to take her in there. She had some money, very little, not enough to buy a house, but enough to rent one, and to help with the expense of the journey. So we looked out for a hired house. With no more than this to depend upon, we set out from Avila, two nuns from St Joseph's and I, and four from the Incarnation, the convent of the mitigated Rule, where I lived before St Joseph's was founded. Our chaplain, Father Julian of Avila, was with us.

When it was known in the town, there was a great deal of talk. Some said I was mad; others would wait to see the end of this nonsense. To the Bishop, as I was afterwards told, it seemed great folly, although at the time he did not let me know this, because, having a great affection for me, he did not like to hamper me or cause me pain. My friends gave me their opinion roundly; but I attached little weight to it; because to me that which they thought hazardous seemed so easy that I could not persuade myself that it could fail to turn out well.

When we left Avila I had already written to a Father of our Order, Fray Antonio de Heredia, to buy me a house. He was at that time Prior of St Anne's, a monastery of monks of our Order at Medina. He opened negotiations with a lady who was much attached to him, who had a house. Its walls were in a ruinous state, all but those of one apartment; but it was in a very good situation. She was so kind as to promise to sell it without demanding security for the payment, on the strength of his word alone: for we could not have given any security. The Lord ordered all this for us: and so they made the agreement. The walls of the house were in such a ruinous state that we had to hire another until it was repaired, for there was a great deal to be done to it.

Then at the end of our first day's journey, it was already dark, and we were tired because of our bad equipage. As we were nearing the town by way of Arévalo, there came out to meet us a friend of ours, an ecclesiastic, who had got rooms for us in the house of some devout women: and he told us privately that we should not get our house, because it was near a monastery of Augustinians, and they would resist our taking possession, and there would certainly have to be a law suit. O, válame Dios! when Thou, O Lord, art pleased to give courage, how little does any opposition avail! Rather it seemed to encourage me, because I felt that if the devil was already beginning to make a disturbance, it must be because this convent would be to the Lord's service. Anyhow I asked him to say nothing, in order not to disturb my companions, especially the two from the Incarnation; for the others would have gone through any troubles for my sake. One of these two was sub-prioress there, and the Sisters did all they could to stop her. Both of them were of good family, and they came against their relations' wish, for all the Sisters thought it absurd; with ample reason, as I afterwards saw. For when it is the Lord's will that I should found one of these houses, nothing seems able to get into my head which seems to me sufficient to make me give it up, until I have actually done it. Afterwards the difficulties present themselves to us all at once, as will presently be seen.