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Full text of "St. Teresa's own words : or, Instructions on the prayer of recollection ; arranged from Chapters 28 and 29 of her Way of perfection for the use of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Darlington"

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Co\\. Chnsti H. 


St. Teresa s Own Words : 

Or, Instructions on 
The Prayer of Recollection 

Arranged from Chapters 28 and 

29 of her Way of Perfection for 

the use of the Sisters of Our 

Lady of Mount Carmel, 

Darlington, by 




BffiL. MAJ. 






Coil. Chiisii Regis S.J. ! T 

Bibl. Phil. O U 

St. Teresa s Own Words. 


Nature and Definition of the Prayer 
of Recollection. 

IT is called the Prayer of Recollec 
tion because in it the soul collects, or 
gathers together, all her powers, and 
enters into her own interior with God. 

I wish I knew how to describe to 
you this holy intercourse which, with 
out disturbing in the least her perfect 
solitude, is carried on between the 
soul and her Divine Spouse and 
Companion, the Holy of Holies, and 
which takes place as often as ever 
she pleases to enter into this interior 
paradise in company with her God, 
and to shut the gate to all the world 

6 St. Teresa s Own Words 

besides. I say, as often as she pleases ; 
for you must understand that this is 
not altogether a supernatural thing, 
but is quite within our own power, 
and we can do it whenever we chose ; 
I mean, of course, with God s help, 
for without this we can do nothing at 
all, not so much as have a single good 
thought. For you must observe that 
this recollection is not a suspension of 
the powers of the soul, but only a 
shutting them up, as it were, within 


The Truth or Foundation on which the 
Prayer of Recollection rests. 

You know that God is everywhere 
(therefore He is in our interior.) Now 
it is clear that wherever the King is, 
there the Court is too ; therefore, 
wherever God is, there is heaven ; 
and you can readily, believe that 
wherever this Divine Majesty is, all 
glory is with Him. Then consider 

St. Teresa s Own Words 7 

what St. Augustine says : that he 
" sought God in many places, and 
found Him at last within himself." 

It is, then, of the utmost importance 
to bear this truth in mind, that our 
Lord is within us, and that we ought 
to strive to be there with him. 

On a certain occasion, when I was 
assisting at the Divine Office with the 
rest of the Sisters, I became, on a 
sudden, thus recollected within my 
self: and here my own soul was pre 
sented before me, and it seemed to 
me to resemble a bright mirror, in 
which there was no darkness nor 
shadow, either behind or on either 
side, or above or below but all clear 
and resplendent ; and in the midst of 
it there appeared Christ our Lord, in 
the form under which I am accustomed 
to see Him. It seemed to me that His 
Image was shining forth from every 
part of my soul, as though reflected 
in the mirror ; and then, by a wonder 
ful communication of love, which I 
know not how to describe, this same 
mirror of my soul seemed to be re 
produced and again represented, in a 

8 St. Teresa s Own Words 

wondrous manner, within the Form of 
my Divine Redeemer. 

[Again], on a certain occasion, it was 
shown to me that my soul was like a 
sponge in the midst of the ocean of 
the Divinity, and that it drank in this 
heavenly substance, so as, in a manner, 
to embrace within it the Three Divine 
Persons. But, at the same time, I 
was admonished that though I had 
the Divinity within my soul, yet I 
myself was much more contained in 
Him than He in me. Thus, whilst I 
beheld, as it were, hidden within me 
the Three Divine Persons, I saw that 
They, at the same time, communicated 
Themselves to all created things, 
without ceasing for an instant to 
abide in me. 

On another occasion I was made 
to understand this truth with great 
clearness that all things are seen 
in God, and that He contains every 
thing within Himself. I do not 
know how to describe this ; but it has 
remained deeply impressed upon my 
mind, and is one of the greatest 
favours our Lord has ever granted me, 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 9 

and one that has filled me, more than 
any other, with confusion at the re 
membrance of my sins. If it had 
pleased our Lord to let me see this 
before I had sinned, or if others, who 
offend Him, could only have seen it, 
I believe that neither they nor I would 
have ever had the boldness to commit 
sin. No words that I can use can 
convey any idea of this sublime truth. 
The only notion I can give of it is 
this :/J beheld the Divinity like a most 
brilliant diamond, far greater than the 
whole world, and containing everything 
within itself ; and in this diamond was 
reflected, as it were, everything that 
is done here below.] Wonderful it 
was, indeed, to behold in so short a 
time, within this glorious mirror, 
such a multitude of things assembled 
together ! But to see represented in 
this pure and unsullied brightness 
such foul abominations as my sins 
was a spectacle that fills me with the 
deepest sorrow whenever I call it to 
mind. In truth, when I reflect upon it, 
I know not how I can bear the 
thought ; and at the time when I beheld 

io St. Teresa sOwn Words 

it, I was so covered with confusion that 
I did not know which way to turn. 

Now it seems to me that this vision 
may be of much profit to those who 
are practising this Prayer of Recollec 
tion, to teach them to consider our Lord 
in the interior of their own souls ; for, 
to repeat what I have so often said 
before, this consideration fixes the 
attention far better, and is far more 
profitable, than to represent Him in 
any other way. If, instead of this, we 
direct our thoughts to God in heaven, 
or if, in fine, we turn to any spot beyond 
ourselves, we do but weary our minds 
and distract our souls, and, after all, 
lose much of the fruit of our labour. 

[In another place,^ the Saint says] : 
The soul of the just man is nothing 
less than a paradise, in which God 
finds His delight. And what sort of 
an abode must that be in which a 
King so powerful, so wise, so bright 
and stainless, so rich in every good, 
delights to dwell ! 

I can find nothing to which I can 
compare the great beauty and immense 

* Castle of the Soul, chap. i. 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 1 1 

capacity of a soul. And, indeed, since 
God has made our souls, as He tells us, 
to His own image and likeness, it is not 
to be expected that our minds, however 
gifted, should be able to understand 
the beauty of a soul, any more than we 
can understand God himself. To try 
to do so would be labour in vain ; 
for though there be an immense 
difference between the Soul and God 
the soul being a creature and God 
her Creator still, since His Divine 
Majesty has made the soul to His own 
image, how great must be its dignity, 
how surpassing its beauty ! 

It is a sad pity, and a shame as well, 
that we do not know ourselves and 
what we are. Would it not be thought 
strange ignorance if, when a man were 
asked his name or the name of his 
father or mother, or the land of his 
birth, he should know nothing about it? 
But it is a stupidity greater than this 
beyond comparison to be ignorant of 
what we are ourselves to know 
nothing about it, beyond a general 
notion that we are living in a body, and 
that we have a soul; and to think but 

12 St. Teresa s Own Words 

little of the goods this soul may possess, 
or Him who dwells within it, and of its 
exceeding value ; and, hence, to take 
such little pains to preserve its beauty. 

O, that I could teach this truth to 
those who commit so many foul and 
shameful sins, that so they might re 
member that they are not hidden nor 
out of sight when they do such things ! 
For, since we are in the immediate 
presence of His Divine Majesty, He 
clearly beholds whatever we do ; and 
yet we presume to behave with such 
insulting irreverence before His eyes ! 
I saw how richly hell is deserved for 
any one single mortal sin ; for it is an 
evil, great beyond all comprehension, 
to commit such things in the very 
Presence of such a Majesty, and it is 
impossible for any one to understand 
how opposed they are to His adorable 

I was given to understand that, 
when a soul is in mortal sin, this 
mirror [see page 6] is, as it were, 
covered with a thick cloud, and 
becomes so black that the image of 
our Lord can neither be represented 

St. Teresa s Own Words 1 3 

nor seen in it, although He is still 
present within the soul, giving her life 
and being. And when a soul is in 
heresy, it is as though the mirror were 
shattered to pieces, which is far worse 
than being darkened and obscured. 
But there is a great difference between 
seeing all this and expressing it in 
words ; for it is very difficult to 
describe. However, it has been of 
great advantage to me, and has made 
me think with a deep sorrow upon the 
time when, by my sins, I so obscured 
my soul that I could see my Divine 
Master there no more. 

In how clear a light does it display 
His infinite mercy, that He should 
bear with us although, knowing this 
truth, we still offend Him! And if 
the mere sight of what I have de 
scribed filled my soul with such con 
sternation, I cannot but reflect how 
terrible the Day of Judgment will be 
when this Sovereign Majesty will 
reveal Himself to our eyes, and we 
shall see clearly the sins whereby we 
have offended Him. 

Good God ! into what blindness had 

14 St. Teresa s Own Words 

I fallen when I sinned against Thee ! 
Many a time have I trembled with 
terror while writing these lines. And 
no wonder ! The wonder rather is 
that I should not die at once when I 
call to mind the things that I have 
seen, and look upon the life I have 
led. Blessed be He for evermore 
who has borne with me so long ! 


Method and Practice of the Prayer 
of Recollection. 

And now we must see how we can 
enter into this beautiful and delightful 
dwelling. It may, perhaps, seem 
foolish to talk of entering into it ; for, 
if this dwelling be our own souls, we 
cannot enter into what is, in fact, 
ourselves, just as it would be folly to 
tell a person to enter a room when he 
was inside it already. But we must 
understand that there are more ways 
than one of being inside our souls. 
There are many, indeed, who do no 

St. Teresa sOwn Words i 5 

more than, like a troop of guards, 
walk round this castle of their souls, 
and never care to enter it at all, and 
know nothing about what it contains. 
Now the gate whereby we have to 
enter this precious dwelling of our 
souls is by prayer and consideration. 
I do not say mental prayer only, but 
vocal as well, provided it be accom 
panied with consideration or attention 
of the mind ; since, without this, it 
would not be prayer. For if a person 
does not think who it is that he is 
speaking to, or what he is asking, or 
who he is that is praying, or to whom 
he prays, I certainly do not call that 
a prayer, how much soever the man 
may move his lips.^ 

i. Well, then, you must begin by 
fixing this truth in your minds : that 
there is within you a palace of sur 
passing splendour, whose whole struc 
ture is composed of gold and most 
precious stones such, indeed, as is 
fitting for the great King who resides 
within it ; and that the beauty of your 
own soul is, in part, the cause why 

* Castle of the Sottl, chap. i. 

1 6 St. Teresa sOwn Words 

this palace is so beautiful. For it 
is most true that no building can 
be compared, in beauty and magnifi 
cence, with a soul that is pure and 
filled with virtues ; and the higher 
these virtues are, the larger and more 
resplendent are the jewels that adorn 
her interior dwelling. And in the 
midst of this palace dwells the great 
King who deigns to be your constant 
guest, and here He sits upon a throne 
of priceless value, and this throne is 
in your own heart. 

2. But here comes the great point 
of all. We, on our part, must, with a 
full and hearty determination, make 
over to Him entirely this interior 
palace, that so He may find no diffi 
culty in dealing with it just as with 
His own property, turning out and 
putting in whatever He pleases. He 
has made this an essential condition 
to the bargain, and certainly His 
Divine Majesty is quite in the right 
to do so. Let us not, then, refuse Him 
what He asks. At the same time He 
does not force our wills, but He will 
deign to receive as much as we choose 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 1 7 

to give Him ; only remember,,. // will 
nevej-_give Himself entirely to us until 
we have given ourselves entirely to 
TTirn. This is as certain as any thing- 
can be, and so important too, that it 
is for this reason I so often put you in 
mind of it. Without this He never 
works those effects in the soul which 
He does when she is entirely His, 
without any reserve or obstacle. Nor, 
indeed, do I well see how He can, for 
He is a special friend to order and 
propriety. So that if we fill this 
palace with all sorts of rabble, and 
instead of ornament, disfigure it with 
trifles and worthless trinkets, how is it 
possible that our Lord can dwell there 
with all His Court? I am sure it is 
as much as we can expect if He stays 
there ever so short a time, in the 
midst of such confusion. 

3. I beseech you, for the love of 
God, to make no account of earthly 
favours. Let each one try to do her 
duty, and if her Superior gives no 
sign of approbation of her conduct, 
let her rest assured that our Lord will 
approve and repay her well. Did we 

1 8 St. Teresa s Own Words 

come into the world to seek our 
reward in this life ? Let our thoughts 
be ever fixed upon the things that 
last, and let us make no account of 
the things here below, for they do not 
last even for the short space of our 

Give no place to thoughts of what 
others may think of you, for though 
they may seem but a slight matter at 
first, yet by degrees they will come 
to give you much disquiet. Banish 
them, therefore, at once, remembering 
that your kingdom is not of this world, 
and that all visible things will very 
soon have an end. Endeavour to rise 
above this, and be content that men 
should continue to think as they do ; 
remain humble and despised, and be 
glad to remain so, for the love of your 
Lord who dwells within you. 

Cast your eyes upon yourselves, 
and not upon others, and look into 
your own interior in the manner I 
have described, and there you will 
find your Heavenly Master, who will 
never desert you. And the less 
external consolation you find, the 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 1 9 

greater will be the tenderness with 
which He will treat you. He is most 
tender and compassionate, and never 
abandons those who are afflicted and 
despised, if they will but trust in Him 
alone. Hence the Royal Prophet says 
"that the Lord is with those who are 

in affliction." I )o you believe this, or 
not ? _If_ you do so, why do you 
torment yourselves ? 

O, God of my heart, if we only knew 
Thee truly and indeed, nothing in the 
world could distress or trouble us, for 
Thou art liberal beyond expression to 
those who wish to put their trust in 
Thee. Believe me, it is a great point 
to understand this truth, and to see 
that all favours and honours here 
below are nothing but deceit when 
they turn away the soul from this 
interior recollection. Good God ! who 
shall be able to teach you to under 
stand this truth as you ought ? Cer 
tainly not I ; for though no one is 
more bound to understand it than I 
am, still I have not yet learnt it as it 
ought to be learnt. 

4. We should try to disengage our- 

2O St. Teresa sOwn Words 

selves, as far as may be, from exterior 
occupations, that we may occupy our 
selves more easily with God in our 
own interior. 

5. And even when engaged with 
these occupations, we should often 
turn our thoughts within ourselves, if 
it be only for a single moment. The 
mere act of calling to mind what a 
Companion we have within us, is of 
great importance. 

6. We must try to use our external 
senses so as to promote the interests 
of our interior. For example, if we 
speak to any one, let us call to mind 
that there is One with whom we may 
converse in the interior of our souls. 
If we hear others speak of us, let us 
remember that there is One to whom 
we may listen, who speaks to us far 
more clearly and intimately. Shut 
yourselves up within this little heaven 
of your souls, where He ever dwells 
who made both the heaven within them 
and the earth without, and accustom 
yourselves to take off your eyes, and to 
withdraw from those things by which 
your external senses are distracted. 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 21 

7. But, above all things, I want to 
impress upon you that, when we are 
speaking to Him we should look at 
Him and remain in His presence, and 
not turn our backs upon him ; for it 
seems to me that this is just what we do 
if, while we are speaking to Him, we 
are thinking of a thousand absurdities. 
The whole mischief lies here, that we 
do not fully understand how near He 
is to us, but represent Him as far away. 
And far enough off indeed He would 
be if we had to go to heaven to see 
Him. O God, is there, then, so little 
beauty in Thy countenance that it is 
not worth looking at when Thou art 
so near us ? When we speak to men 
we think they are not listening to us 
if we do not see that their eyes are 
upon us ; and shall we be so blind as 
not to see that Thou art looking upon 
us when we are speaking to Thee ? 
How, then, can we know whether 
Thou hast heard what we have said to 
Thee ? It is, then, of no small im 
portance for a distracted soul to 
understand this truth, and to see that, 
in order to speak to her Eternal 

22 St. Teresa sOwn Words 

Father, and to enjoy His company, 
there is no need of going up to 
heaven, or of raising her voice, as 
though He were afar off. No ; how 
ever low we speak, so near He is that 
He is sure to hear us ; nor is there 
any need of wings to fly and seek 
Him. Nothing more is required than 
to place ourselves in solitude, to look 
at Him within ourselves, and be care 
ful not to turn our eyes away from so 
amiable a Guest to collect all our 
external senses together, to turn them 
within ourselves, and to give them 
something to occupy them there. 

Let us be convinced that, if we 
please, we need never be separated 
from His sweet company. And let us 
think over with sorrow how, time after 
time, we have left our Father in His 
dwelling alone and forgotten this 
Father on whose tender support we 
entirely depend. Let us do this, if 
we can, many times in the day ; if 
not so often, at least now and then ; 
but whether seldom or often, if we do 
but try we shall find the fruit of it 
sooner or later. 

St. Teresa s Own Words 2 3 

Speak to Him as to a father, ask 
Him favours as from a father ; let us 
tell Him all our troubles, and beg of 
Him to relieve us, all the while bear 
ing in mind that we are not worthy to 
be His children. Treat with Him as 
with your father, your brother, your 
Lord, and your spouse sometimes in 
one way, sometimes in another, for 
He will teach you what you must do 
to please Him. Do not act foolishly 
(with levity) towards Him ; but ask 
Him with confidence to keep the 
promises He has made you, and, as 
He is your Spouse, beg Him to treat 
you as such. He will soon become 
so familiar with us as to understand 
us, as they say, by signs ; so that if 
we have to say a number of " Our 
Fathers," He will let us know that 
He has heard us by the time we have 
got through a single one. He is 
always very glad to lessen our labours ; 
so that if, during a whole hour, we 
were to say but one "Our Father," 
yet, provided we (a) bear in mind that 
we are with Him, and (<$) remember 
that we are asking for Him, and (c) 

Coll. Christi Re, 

24 St. Teresa sOwn Words 

how glad He is to give us what we 
ask, and (d) how delighted He is to 
be ^ in our company, He is quite 
satisfied, and does not wish us to 
split our heads by trying to make long 

8. The soul thus recollected within 
herself can also think of the Passion, 
and represent the Son of God as pre 
sent within her, and offer Him there 
to His Father, without wearying her 
understanding by going and seeking 
Him on Mount Calvary, or in the 
Garden, or fastened to the pillar. 
v 9, We can use the method of Prayer 
of Recollection in praying also to the 
Saints ; for do you suppose that when 
He comes, He comes by Himself? 
No ; I can be bold to say that His 
courtiers never leave Him alone, but 
are with Him wherever He resides, 
and moreover, are ever making inter 
cession with Him for us, for they are 
full of charity. 

10. Whoever wishes to acquire this 
habit for, as I said before, it is 
entirely within our power let him 
not fail to exercise himself daily in 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 25 

the way I have described. It will 
give him, little by little, a perfect 
command over himself. He must 
give himself wholly to God, it is true ; 
but this sacrifice is not made for 
nothing, for in return he receives an 
entire control over himself and all his 
faculties. Labour, as nothing worth 
having is got without it. Persevere 
in spite of trouble. 

ii. At the same time we must never 
lose sight of this truth : that the whole 
of our perfection must be based on 
humility, and if this humility be not 
true and sincere, our Lord will never 
permit the edifice to rise very high. 
And this in reality is all the better for 
us, for it would only rise to fall again 
to the ground ; and the higher it had 
risen the greater would be the fall. 
In order, therefore, to build on this 
solid foundation, let each one try to 
look upon herself as below her com 
panions rather than above them in 
point of virtue and excellence. More 
over, let each one be ever on the 
watch for opportunities to do any 
little service she can to those around 

26 St. Teresa s Own Words 

her, bearing in mind that, in thus 
serving others, she is doing herself 
a far greater service than she is 
rendering to them. For she is thus 
laying down stones for the foundation 
of a building, that no danger or 
temptation will be able to shake. 


Advantages of Using the Prayer of 

1. It is a great help to a distracted 
soul (as said before) ; for in order to 
speak to her Eternal Father and to 
enjoy His company, there is no need 
of going up to heaven or of raising 
her voice, as though He were afar off. 

2. This method of prayer, though 
it be vocal, enables the mind to keep 
recollected far more easily than in any 
other way, and brings along with it 
many excellent fruits. 

3. Her (the soul s) Divine Master 
forms and teaches her far more 
quickly by this method than if she 
followed any other way. 

St. Teresa s Own Words 27 

4. And leads her much sooner to 
the prayer of quiet. 

5. Those who practise it may rest 
assured that they are following an 
excellent way, and that at last they 
will be allowed to drink at the fount 
of perfect contemplation. 

6. For they will advance much in a 
very short time. It is like sailing in a 
ship to one s journey s end. If the 
wind and weather be favourable, he 
who travels by water reaches the end 
of his voyage in a very few days, 
while he who goes by land is a long 
time on the way. In the same 
manner, those who use the Prayer of 
Recollection are embarked, so to 
speak, on the sea, and though they 
have not yet altogether quitted the 
shore, yet by this recollection of their 
senses they are doing their best to 
leave it behind them. 

7. Admirable indeed it is, for they 
who travel by this path are very 
secure from the dangers which sur 
round them. 

8. And the fire of Divine love is 
easily enkindled within them ; for they 

28 St. Teresa sOwn Words 

are so very near this heavenly fire 
that, if their understanding do but 
breathe upon it, the least spark that 
touches them inflames their whole 
souls at once. For since they are not 
embarrassed by any external thing, but 
the soul is here alone with her God, 
they are fully prepared to receive the 
communication of this Divine fire. 

9. In this manner we shall be able 
to pray vocally with great peace and 
recollection, and thus be freed from a 
vast amount of trouble we should 
otherwise have. 

10. For my part, I (St. Teresa) 
acknowledge that I never knew what 
it was to pray with satisfaction till our 
Lord taught me this method ; and the 
great profit I have always found from 
this habit of recollecting myself in 
my own interior has induced me to 
speak of it so much at length. 

11. When our Lord shall have 
given us this habit of prayer, we 
shall see so clearly its inestimable 
value that we shall not be willing to 
exchange it for all the treasures of 
the world. 

St. Teresa s Own Words 29 

12. I know for certain that, if you 
will only persevere, in the course of a 
year, or perhaps in six months, by 
God s help, you will obtain what you 
desire. See how short a time is 
required for obtaining so immense a 
good ! 

13. It is no less than laying a solid 
foundation, upon which the highest 
perfection of virtue may be built. 

I beseech you, therefore, to consider 
as well spent whatever labour or 
trouble you may employ upon this 
great object. 


Notanda Regarding the Prayer of 

Let me warn you not to imagine 
that prayer alone, whether vocal or 
mental, will serve as a foundation 
for your spiritual edifice. For unless 
with this you obtain solid virtues and 
practise them, you will never advance 
towards perfection. And would to 

30 St. Teresa sOwn Words 

God your not advancing were the 
only evil ! But you surely know that 
he that does not advance is sure 
to go back, for I do not conceive 
it possible that love should continue 
in the same degree without either 
increasing or growing cold. Unite, 
therefore, the practice of solid virtue 
with this interior recollection, so that, 
if God wishes to raise you to great 
things, He will find you well pre 
pared, being already so closely united 
to Himself. 

And here let me caution you against 
a certain false modesty which some 
people have, and think it humility. 
Truly it is no humility to refuse a 
favour which a king offers us ! On 
the contrary, true humility would 
receive it with an acknowledgment 
that it is more than we deserve, and 
be very glad to have got it. A fine 
sort of humility, when the Lord of 
heaven and earth has come into my 
house, with the intention of offering me 
favours and of taking pleasure in my 
company, to refuse to answer Him a 
word, or to stay with Him at all, or to 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 3 1 

receive what He offers me, and leave 
Him quite by Himself! Nay, and 
when He tells me, and even implores 
me, to ask Him favours, to choose, 
through humility, forsooth, to remain 
poor, and even to let Him go away 
altogether, because He sees that I 
cannot make up my mind to say any 
thing to Him ! Pray, have nothing 
to do with such humility as this. 

Perhaps some persons may think 
it foolish to explain this matter by 
such a comparison [as that of the 
interior mansion.] But I assure you 
it may help you very much. And 
more particularly for those who are 
unlearned, all this is quite necessary 
to make them understand that there 
is something within them incomparably 
more precious than they can see with 
out. Let us not then imagine that we 
are empty in our own interior. But 
would to God that there were none 
but the ignorant who forget this great 
truth ; for if all of us were careful to 
bear in mind what a Guest we have 
residing within us, I hold it to be 
impossible that we should give our- 

3 2 St. Teresa sOwn Words 

selves up as much as we do to the 
things of the world, since we should 
clearly see how contemptible they are 
when compared with what we possess 
within ourselves. For if we are ever 
running after things that gratify our 
external senses, what else do brute 
beasts do ? When they see an object 
that pleases their eyes, they seize and 
devour it to satisfy their hunger. Is 
there, then, to be no difference between 
them and us ? 

Now perhaps there are some people 
who will laugh at me for being so 
particular in insisting upon all this, 
and say, 4 1 1 is all clear enough. " Well, 
they are quite right ; so it is ; but yet 
there was a time when it was very 
obscure to me. I knew very well that 
I had got a soul ; but as to the value 
of this soul, and who it was that dwelt 
within it, about this I knew nothing 
at all. I had so blinded my eyes with 
the vanities of the world that I could 
not see these truths. It seems to me 
that if I had understood then, as I do 
now, that so great a King resided in 
this palace of my soul, I should not 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 33 

have left Him alone so very often, but 
should have sometimes kept Him 
company, and should have tried more 
to purify my soul. For what could 
possibly excite in a soul such wonder 
and admiration as this that He whose 
greatness would fill a thousand worlds 
should shut Himself up in so small 
and mean a dwelling? It was even 
thus that He was pleased to take up 
His abode in the womb of His most 
holy Mother! But as He is the 
Lord of all, He is free to do whatever 
He will; and so, because He loves us, 
He accommodates Himself to our 
littleness. Thus, when a soul is but 
beginning, in order that she may not 
be disturbed by seeing how very 
little she is to contain One who 
is so great, He does not allow her, 
at first, to understand all this, till, 
little by little, He has enlarged 
and expanded the soul, according 
to the measure of those gifts which 
He designs to bestow upon her. 
For this reason, I said that He is 
free to do whatsoever He will, 
for He has the power to enlarge this 

34 St. Teresa s Own Words 

palace in which He is pleased to 

Now, if this recollection be real and 
genuine, it soon shows itself very 
clearly, for then a certain effect is 
produced in the soul, which I do not 
know exactly how to describe, but 
which is easily understood by one who 
has felt it. The soul sees that all the 
things of this world are a mere game, 
an idle pastime, and joyfully abandons 
the distracting scene, and then, like 
one who retires into a strong castle to 
be out of the reach of his enemies, 
she withdraws her senses from these 
external things, and so completely 
turns her back upon them that, with 
out thinking of it, the eyes of the body 
close of themselves, that she may see 
them no longer, but may be better 
able to attend to what is going on in 
her own interior. Hence it is that 
whosoever practises this method almost 
always has his eyes shut when he is 
saying his prayers ; and this is an 
excellent custom for many reasons, 
since it implies the doing some violence 
to oneself thus to turn away our eyes 

St. Teresa sOwn Words 35 

from these earthly things. However, 
this effort is only required in the 
beginning ; afterwards there is no 
need of it, for after a little practice 
it would be necessary to do oneself a 
great deal more violence to open the 
eyes during prayer than to keep them 
shut. Thus the soul gathers strength 
and force at the expense of the body. 
She leaves it, as it were, alone and 
helpless, and thereby acquires fresh 
power to govern it and oppose its 

Now you must understand that 
there are various degrees in this 
recollection ; so although, at the be 
ginning, all that I have described may 
not be clearly felt, yet let us only 
persevere, in spite of the trouble it 
may cost us at first, and we shall soon 
see the advantage of it. I say it will 
cost us some trouble at first, because 
the body will try for a time to insist 
on its rights, not knowing that, by 
refusing to yield at once, it is its own 
greater enemy ; but if we only per 
severe for a few days, and do ourselves 
a little violence, we shall soon perceive 

3 6 St. Teresa s Own Words 

the fruit of our exertions. We shall 
find, as soon as we begin to pray, that 
the bees will all flock into the hive 
and set to work to make the honey, 
and this without any trouble on our 
part. For it has pleased our Lord to 
ordain that, in reward for the little 
trouble we take at the beginning, 
our understanding and our will re 
ceive so complete a mastery over 
all our powers that if they merely 
give a sign that they wish to be 
recollected, the senses obey them at 
once, and become recollected along 
with them. 

And although, after this, they may 
again try to run away, yet it is a great 
point gained to have made them 
surrender at first ; for then they can 
only steal off like so many captives 
and conquered subjects, and cannot do 
us the harm they would have done 
before; and when the will turns round 
and calls them all in again, they come 
back much more quickly. And, at 
last, after they have thus many times 
deserted and been brought back again 
to their post, it pleases our Lord to 

St. Teresa s Own Words 3 7 

appoint that they remain at rest for 
good and all in perfect contemplation. 
I would have you clearly to under 
stand what I have said. Although it 
may seem obscure at first, every one 
will soon comprehend it if he will only 
try to practise it. I pray His Divine 
Majesty never to permit us to withdraw 
ourselves from His holy presence. 



As to how we Use the Prayer of 

1. Do I, when commencing, make 
an act of lively Faith in the presence 
of God in my interior? 

2. Do I humble myself before Him 
and ask His help ? 

3. Do I make efforts to collect the 
powers of my soul, to take off my 
exterior senses, and to turn both one 
and the other on our Lord in my 
interior, by looking at and listening to 

* By Bishop Chadwick. 

38 St. Teresa sOwn Words 

Him, and by believing that He is both 
looking at and listening to me, and 
that He is close at hand? 

4. Have I seated Him on His 
throne in my interior, i.e., on my heart, 
viz., my will and affections ? 

5. Have I often declared to Him 
that I desire to give myself entirely to 
Him, and do I so give myself? 

6. Do I treat Him familiarly, but 
without levity, styling Him Father, 
Brother, Spouse, &c., making known 
to Him my wants, declaring that I 
am His spouse, and that He is to 
treat me as such, bearing in mind 
that I am with Him, and He with 
me, that He is glad to give me what 
I ask, and that He delights to be 
with me ? 

7. Do I ask Him for what I stand 
in need of, and speak to Him with 
faith, desire, confidence, humility, per 
severance, declaring on my part that 
I will do all He requires in order that 
I may obtain what I ask ? 

8. Do I make practical resolutions ? 
What are they, and do I beg His 
blessing on them ? 

St. Teresa s Own Words 3 9 

9. Do I practise Prayer of Recollec 
tion daily ? 

10. Do I give way to distractions ? 
If so, what are the sources of them? 
Am I resolved to cut these sources 

11. Do I thank our Lord before 
rising from prayer, and take care not 
to dissipate my interior by wilful 
negligence ? 

12. Is my prayer fruitful? i.e. : 
(a) Do I increase in a desire to advance 
in solid virtue and in perfection ? (b] 
Do I endeavour, in great peace, to 
lessen the number of my faults and 
imperfections? (c] Do I endeavour 
to practise the solid virtues? (d] Is 
my desire for sincere humility on the 
increase ? 

13. Do I, from time to time, read 
and ponder over St. Teresa s instruc 
tions on the Prayer of Recollection ?