“Consider, O human being, in what great excellence the Lord God has placed you, for He created and formed you to the image of His beloved Son according to the body and to His likeness according to the Spirit.
And all creatures under heaven serve, know, and obey their Creator, each according to its own nature, better than you. And even the demons did not crucify Him, but you, together with them, have crucified Him and are still crucifying Him by delighting in vices and sins.
In what, then, can you boast? Even if you were so skillful and wise that you possessed all knowledge, knew how to interpret every kind of language, and to scrutinize heavenly matters with skill: you could not boast in these things. For, even though someone may have received from the Lord a special knowledge of the highest wisdom, one demon knew about heavenly matters and now knows more about those of earth than all human beings.
In the same way, even if you were more handsome and richer than everyone else, and even if you worked miracles so that you put demons to flight: all these things are contrary to you; nothing belongs to you; you can boast in none of these things.
But we can boast in our weaknesses and in carrying each day the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”–Francis of Assisi (Admonition V)
“At some thoughts one stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love.
Always decide ‘I will combat it by humble love.’ If you resolve on that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.”
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
I was drinking my coffee this morning at the local coffee shop while reading the daily lectionary. Along with Matthew 13–where the disciples beg Jesus to let them peek at the answers at the back of the book (“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”)–there was this confounding quote from Teresa of Avila. Five hundred years later and she’s still able to make me set down my coffee in surprise!
“Prayer is not just spending time with God. It is partly that–but if it ends there, it is fruitless. No, prayer is dynamic. Authentic prayer changes us–unmasks us–strips us–indicates where growth is needed. Authentic prayer never leads to complacency, but needles us–makes us uneasy at times. It leads us to true self-knowledge, to true humility.”–Teresa of Avila
For a delightful short video series on the life of Teresa of Avila, check out Sister Donna on YouTube.