Friendship with Jesus
St. Teresa of Avila
Doctor of the Church
St. Teresa of Avila on friendship with Jesus as the key to contemplation and the spiritual life and how all blessings come through the humanity of Christ. This selection (Opusc. De Libro vitae, ap. 22, 6-7, 14) is used in the Roman Catholic Office of readings for the Feast or liturgical memorial of Saint Teresa of Avila on October 15. Saint Teresa was born at Avila in Spain in 1515. She joined the Carmelite order, make great progress in the way of perfection and enjoyed mystical revelations. When she reformed the Order, she met with much resistance, but she succeeded with undaunted courage. She also wrote books filled with sublime teaching on true holiness and contemplative prayer, the fruit of her own spiritual life. She died at Avila in 1582, was canonized the following century, and was proclaimed a doctor of the Catholic Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight.
Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.
What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near. Let us consider the glorious Saint Paul: it seems that no other name fell from his lips than that of Jesus, because the name of Jesus was fixed and embedded in his heart. Once I had come to understand this truth, I carefully considered the lives of some of the saints, the great contemplatives, and found that they took no other path: Francis, Anthony of Padua, Bernard, Catherine of Siena. A person must walk along this path in freedom, placing himself in God’s hands. If God should desire to raise us to the position of one who is an intimate and shares his secrets, we ought to accept this gladly.
Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favors, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.