Brides of This Great King

From Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection, 13 (1577).

I often tell you, sisters, and now I want it to be set down in writing, not to forget that we in this house, and for that matter anyone who would be perfect, must flee a thousand leagues from such phrases as: “I had right on my side” or “They had no right to do this to me” or “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 that it was right for our good Jesus to have to suffer so many insults, and that those who heaped them on him were right, and that they had any right to do him those wrongs? … How does right enter into the matter at all? I really do not know.

Before we begin talking about “not having our rights,” let us wait until we receive some honor or gratification, or are treated kindly, for it is certainly not right that we should have anything in this life like that. When, on the other hand, some offence is done to us (and we do not feel it an offence to us that it should be so described), I do not see what we can find to complain of.

Either we are the brides of this great King or we are not. If we are, what wife is there with a sense of honor who does not accept her share in any dishonor done to her spouse? Each partner, in fact, shares in the honor and dishonor of the other. To desire to share in the kingdom [of our spouse Jesus Christ], and to enjoy it, and yet not to be willing to have any part in his dishonors and trials, is ridiculous.

St. Teresa of Avila (1518-1582) was a Spanish nun and mystic, whose writings about contemplation have been deeply influential, and she was named the first female “doctor of the Church” by Pope Paul VI in 1970.  She founded the Discalced Carmelites, a reformed branch of the Carmelite order she joined as a young woman, setting up houses across Spain. She wrote the treatise Spiritual Perfection to guide her nuns systematically through the stages of the life of prayer, and it is especially prized for its clarity and practicality. Her feast day is October 15.

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