Home > Books on Spiritual Formation, Spirituality > Humility is the ointment for our wounds

Humility is the ointment for our wounds

November 8, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Slowly moving thru Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila and it is amazing how her words speak into my current situation.  As she writes about the third mansion, she warns that very moderate trials may disturb and dishearten them.  She says that we should not give them advice nor should we argue with them.  “They cannot be made to understand that they are acting imperfectly.”  Sounds very familiar with how I have been of late!

The solution is that “God wishing His elect to realize their own misery, often temporarily withdraws His favors.”  This withdrawal of the consolations of God is a great mercy and helps those in trouble gain great humility as they see their faulty behavior.  Sounds similar to John’s Dark Night experience, doesn’t it?

One example she gives of the kind of moderate trials that bother these people is when they experience a lack of respect–something I have suffered with of late. She says God does give grace to bear the lack of respect but she says that the reason we are disturbed is that “they have not long meditated on the pains our Lord endured.”  Again, correct–so easy to focus on myself!

Teresa says that the issue is not our vocation–whether we are a pastor, priest or missionary “but whether we practice the virtues and submit our will in all things to the will of God.  The object of our life must be to do what He requires of us; let us not ask that our will may be done but His. If we have not yet attained to this, let us be humble, as I said above.  Humility is the ointment for our wounds; if we have it, although perhaps He may defer His coming for a time, God, Who is our Physician, will come and heal us.”

She talks later about a lack of humility as being a key reason for people not continuing to make progress (presumably in their spiritual life or for Teresa to other mansions.)   She seems to suggest self-renuniciation as a solution although I must admit that I don’t exactly know what that means nor how to go about it.  Perhaps, “It is not longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

Her last paragraph does offer some help.  “Let us look at our own faults, and not at other persons’. . . We ought not to insist on everyone following in our footsteps, nor to take upon ourselves to give instructions in spirituality when, perhaps, we do not even know what it is. (OUCH)  . . . it is best to keep our rule, which bids us ever to live in silence and hope.  Our Lord will care for the souls belonging to Him; and if we beg His majesty to do so, by His grace we shall be able to aid them greatly.  May He be forever blessed.”

Seems like she is a bit contradictory in the last section but nonetheless a warning to be careful about leading others–I think of Galatians 6: 1-2 how we are to gently and humbly help those who have been overcome by sin lest we ourselves fall into the same temptation.   Lots of things here to think about!

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