Sunday, February 21, 2016
You will seek the Lord your God, and if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul, you shall find him. In your distress, all that I have said will overtake you, but at the end of days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God and will not desert or destroy you or forget the covenant he made on oath with your fathers. (Deuteronomy 4; 29-31)
In the fragment from her ‘Life’ (ch 11/10,11), St Teresa encourages and explains to us why we should never abandon prayer, even if we are all the time experiencing nothing but aridity. Very good read for Lent.
Beginners in prayer, we may say, are those who drew up the water out of the well: this, as I have said, is a laborious proceeding, for it will fatigue them to keep their senses recollected, which is a great labour because they have accustomed to a life of distraction. Beginners must accustom themselves to pay no heed to what they see or hear, and they must practise doing this during hours of prayer; they must be alone and in their solitude think over their past life – all of us, indeed, whether beginners or proficient, must do this frequently. There are differencies, however, in the degree to which it must be done, as I shall show later. At first it causes distress, for beginners are not always sure that they have repented of their sins (though clearly they have, since they have so sincerely resolved to serve God). Then they have to endeavour to meditate upon the life of Christ and this fatigue their minds. Thus far we can make progress by ourselves - of course with the help of God, for without that, as is well known, we cannot think a single good thought. This is what is meant by beginning to draw up water from the well, and God grant there may be water in it! But that, at least, does not depend on us: our task is to draw it up and to so what we can to water the flowers. And God is so good that when, for reasons known to His Majesty, perhaps to our great advantage, He is pleased that the well should be dry, we. Like good gardeners, do all that in us lies, and He keeps the flowers alive without water and makes the virtues grow. By water here I mean tears – or, if there be none of these, tenderness and an interior feeling of devotion.
What then, will he do here who finds that for many days he experiences nothing but aridity, dislike, distaste and so little desire to go and draw water that he would give it up entirely if he did not remember that he is pleasing and serving the Lord of the garden; if he were not anxious that all his service should not be lost, to say nothing of the gain which he hopes for from the great labour of lowering the bucket so often into the well and drawing it up without water? It will often happen that, even for that purpose, he is unable to move his arms – unable, that is, to think a single good thought, for working with the understanding is of course the same as drawing water out of the well. What, then, as I say, will the gardener of so great an Emperor; and, as he knows that is pleasing Him by so working (and his purpose must be to please, not himself, but HIM), let him render Him a great praise for having placed such confidence in him, when He has seen that without receiving any recompense, he is taking such great care of that which He had entrusted to him; let him help Him to bear the Cross and consider how He lived with it all His life long; let him not wish to have his kingdom on earth or ever cease from prayer; and so let him resolve, even if this aridity should persist his WHOLE LIFE long, never to let Christ fall beneath the Cross. The time will come when he shall receive his whole reward at once. Let him have no fear that his labour will be lost. He is serving a good Master, Whose eyes are upon him. Let him pay no heed to evil thoughts, remembering how the devil put such thoughts into the mind of Saint Jerome in the desert.
Posted by Jay at 11:51 am