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    Detail of Peonies by Rumiantseva Kapitolina

    Insight: Loving Your Neighbor

    By Teresa of Ávila

    February 16, 2016

    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. He will give you far more than you know how to desire if you constrain yourself and strive with all your power to gain it, forcing your will as far as possible to comply in all things with your sisters’ wishes, although you may sometimes forfeit your own rights in doing so.

    Forget your self-interests for theirs, 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.

    a painting of peonies in a vase Rumiantseva Kapitolina, Peonies
    Contributed By Teresa Of Avila Teresa of Ávila

    Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) was a Spanish Carmelite nun and mystic.

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