Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Desert Mother From the 16th Century

I'm reading St. Teresa of Avila's Way of
, a handbook for cloistered nuns of the
Discalced Carmelites.

St. Teresa is a lot more verbose than the Desert
Fathers, but she frequently acknowledges her debts to
the "ancient hermits in the desert", etc., and these
thoughts sound very Desert Father-y:

Do not think of complaining about the weaknesses
and minor ailments from which [you] suffer, for the
devil sometimes makes you imagine them. They come and
go; and unless you get rid of the habit of talking
about them and complaining of everything (except to
God) you will never come to the end of them ... For
this body of ours has one fault: the more you indulge
it, the more things it discovers to be essential to

... anyone who would be perfect, must flee a
thousand leagues from such phrases as: "I had right on
my side"; "They had no right to do this to me"; "The
person who treated me like this was not right." God
deliver us from such a false idea of right as that!
... Do you think you can ever possibly have to bear so
much that you ought not to have to bear any more?


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