Deanna Bartalini ponders lessons in love, humility, and detachment from St. Teresa of Ávila.
A few months ago, I read The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Ávila. It took time and effort, and reading it with a group was a big reason I stuck with it. What is in a book written for cloistered nuns that spoke to me? I’m not a nun or cloistered or even a lay Carmelite, yet there were many lessons I took away from her wisdom.
Before I get to the lessons, I love these few lines that are very much a prayer for all of us:
May our Lord, in His goodness, give us light to follow His will in everything and we shall have no cause to fear.
So profound. The light of Christ guides us: it illuminates our steps and gives us strength and courage.
It is always interesting to read what is said to groups of people you don’t know much about. St. Teresa had to tell the nuns things that sound very similar to things I have said to my children. Mind your own business. Focus on your tasks. Do not compare. God didn’t make everyone the same. Do your best. Stop complaining. Put God first.
Granted I’m simplifying, but really, this is what the women needed to hear. I think St. Teresa was about tough love. She stressed humility and love. “Believe me, that whoever has the most humility, will posses Him most, and less he who has less. For I do not, and cannot understand, how there is or can be humility without love, or love without humility. And it is not possible that these two virtues should be in their perfection, without a great disengagement from all created objects.” Disengagement was another big theme.
The created things of this world ought not to be held onto tightly. They cloud our vision and shift our focus from the Creator. When He is our focus, the rest follows in the right order. If there is one lesson I wish I had learned before now it is that! Start with the One, go where He leads, and care for those He has put right in front of you. That is how to grow in love and humility and detachment. And according to St. Teresa, the more of those virtues we have, the more we will possess God. And God is everything.
Copyright 2022 Deanna Bartalini
About the Author
Deanna G. Bartalini, M.Ed.; M.P.A., is a certified spiritual director, writer, speaker and content creator. She is the founder of the LiveNotLukewarm.com online community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through live, interactive faith studies. Her weekly Not Lukewarm Podcast gives you tips and tools to live out your faith in your daily life.