ST. TERESA’S GREAT LOVE FOR GOD
The heart of this seraph was so on fire with the love of God that all her thoughts and all her sighs were of Divine love and the good pleasure of God. “Behold what I am always saying,” she writes in her Life, “and it seems to me I say it with all my heart: ‘O Lord, I do not think of self: I wish for nothing but for Thee alone!’ “
The heart of this seraph was so on fire with the love of God, that all her thoughts and all her sighs were nothing but love, and had reference only to the good pleasure of God. Her confessor used to say that when speaking to her, he seemed to have before him a seraph of love. The sacred flame of the love of God burned within her soul ever since the moment when, only seven years of age, she had the courage to leave her native country, her father and mother, in order to go amongst the infidels, that she might sacrifice her life for Jesus Christ, as it is stated in the Bull of her canonization.
Her love increased as she advanced in age, and although it grew somewhat cool for some years, yet when God, by a fresh illumination, called her to a love of greater perfection, her correspondence to His grace was such as to merit to hear from the very lips of her Spouse, that if He had not already created Paradise, He would have created it expressly and entirely for her. And on another occasion, He even told her that He was all hers, because she was all his: “Now I am all thine, and thou art all Mine” (Bull of Canon).
In short, so completely was she given up to God, that, inebriated with the Divine love, she knew not how to speak of anything save of her Beloved. She knew not how to think of anything save of her Beloved. She could not even hold converse with any one save of her Beloved. For, accustomed as she was to hold sweet converse with her God, she could not lend herself to hold intercourse with creatures, excepting with those who were wounded, as she expressed herself, with the same love.
So strongly was she drawn to God by love, that she declared herself to be incompetent for the management of worldly affairs. So that, one day, she said: “If the Lord keeps me in my present state, I shall render but a bad account of the affairs that He has entrusted to my charge; for it seems that I am continually being drawn towards God, as if by chains.” Everything that tended to interrupt her continual union with God was a burden to her, even the taking of her meals: “It is often a very great punishment on me,” she writes, “to be obliged to eat. It makes me weep, and give utterance to complaints, almost without being aware of what I say.”
But let us listen to the beautiful sentiments that she has recorded for us in reference to her love for God, and let us warm our hearts with the blessed flame that burned in the heart of our seraphic Saint.
She writes: “Behold what I am always saying, and, as it seems to me, with all my heart: O Lord, I do not think of myself, I wish for nothing but for Thee alone!”
Although she was exceedingly humble, she does not shrink from saying: “I am nothing but imperfection, excepting in desire and in love; I think that I do love my Lord well, but my works make me sad.”
So ardently did she desire to advance, as far as she possibly could, in the love of God, that she expresses herself elsewhere in the following terms “If I were to have my choice of undergoing all the sufferings of the world even to the end of time, and of obtaining afterwards a small additional degree of glory, or without afflictions of any kind, to settle down in a degree of glory less exalted, I would willingly prefer to bear all the sufferings for the smallest possible additional knowledge of the greatness of God; because I see that they who know God best love Him most.” On seeing that she loved God so much, and that she was so much beloved by Him, she wrote in holy transport: “Oh! what a beautiful exchange it is to give our love to God, and to receive from Him His own.”
We are also aware what consolations she found in the loving petition she was so frequently addressing to God: Lord, either to suffer or to die! It seemed to her that the desire of suffering for God was so sweet to her loving heart, that she could gain no merit by it. And she goes on to say, that the only reason why we should love the present life is for the opportunity it affords us of suffering for God. “Since the desire of sufferings brings me no merit, and life seems to me to be worthless without sufferings, I pray to God for them most fervently. I say, then, to Him with all my heart: Lord, either to suffer or to die: I ask Thee for nothing more.”
It was by this that she merited to be united to Jesus Christ, Who, on presenting her with a nail, declared her to be His spouse of love and of the cross. The Lord, stretching His right hand towards her, as we read in the appendix to her Life, proceeded to say to her: “Behold this nail: it is a token that henceforth you shall be my spouse; you have not merited this until now. For the future you shall not look upon My honour merely as that of your Creator, of your King, and of your God, but since you are now My true spouse, My honour is yours, and your honour is Mine.”
She said, one day, in a transport of love, that it would give her real joy to see others in Paradise rejoicing in a higher degree of glory than her own; but that she did not know whether she could rejoice at seeing a soul have a greater love for God than she had.
In conclusion, her whole employment consisted in whatever could procure glory for God; but her great love for Him caused her to regard all that she did as nothing. “O Lord!” she said, “I fear that I am not serving Thee; I cannot discover anything that can be sufficient to pay Thee the smallest part of what I owe Thee.” The only thing that contented her in this life, and the prayer that she continually offered up to God, was this: “Ah, my Lord, enable us all to become worthy of loving Thee; since live we must, let us live for Thee, ever leaving our own selfish interests out of sight. What greater gain can we have than that which consists in being pleasing in Thy sight. O my Joy, my God, what can I do to please Thee?”
O seraphic Teresa, beloved spouse of Jesus crucified, thou who wast all on fire while upon earth with so burning a love for thy God and mine, who art now burning with a still purer and brighter flame in Heaven, obtain for me, I entreat thee, one spark of this heavenly flame, which may enable me to forget the world, its creatures, and even myself, in order to devote all my thoughts, all my desires, and all my affections to the accomplishment, whether in joy or pain, of the will of this Sovereign Good Who deserves to be obeyed and loved. Do this, O my dear Saint, for thou art able to do it. Make me burn wholly and entirely, like thyself, with Divine love.