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Detail of Peonies by Rumiantseva Kapitolina

Insight: Loving Your Neighbor

Teresa of Ávila


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Detail from Still Life with Jug by Paula Modersohn-Becker

Insight: Caring for a Neighbor’s Soul

In this letter to a former student, C. S. Lewis encourages her not to give up in a time of personal difficulties. “It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of his presence.”

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It is amusing to see souls who, while they are at prayer, fancy they are willing to be despised and publicly insulted for the love of God, yet afterwards do all they can to hide their small defects. If anyone unjustly accuses them of a fault, God deliver us from their outcries! . . .

No, sisters, no; our Lord expects works from us. If you see a sick sister whom you can relieve, never fear losing your devotion; show compassion to her; if she is in pain, feel for it as if it were your own. ... If someone else is well spoken of, be more pleased than if it were yourself; this is easy enough, for if you were really humble it would vex you to be praised. ...

Beg our Lord to grant you perfect love for your neighbor, and leave the rest to him. ... Forget your self-interests for [your neighbors’], however much nature may rebel; when opportunity occurs, take some burden upon yourself to ease your neighbor of it. Do not fancy that it will cost you nothing and that you will find it all done for you: think what the love he bore for us cost our Spouse, who, to free us from death, suffered the most painful death of all – the death of the cross.

Source: The Interior Castle, trans. the Benedictines of Stanbrook (1921), 3.10–12.

Peonies by Rumiantseva Kapitolina Rumiantseva Kapitolina, Peonies