The Divine Challenge

Jesus with Carmelite Nun and Flaming Hearts

Teresa addresses herself to persons who aspire to union with God.

“Well, let us speak now of those who are beginning to be servants of love. This doesn’t seem to me to mean anything else than to follow resolutely by means of this path of prayer Him who has loved us so much. To be a servant of love is a dignity so great that it delights me in a wonderful way to think about it. For servile fear soon passes away if in this state we proceed as we ought. O Lord of my soul and my good! When a soul is determined to love you by doing what it can to leave all and occupy itself better in this divine love, why don’t you desire that it enjoy soon the ascent to the possession of perfect love?”

But there can be impediments to a person’s ability to make progress.

“I should have mentioned and complained that we ourselves do not desire this. The whole fault is ours if we don’t soon reach the enjoyment of a dignity so great, for the perfect attainment of this true love of God brings with it every blessing. We are so miserly and so slow in giving ourselves entirely to God that since His Majesty does not desire that we enjoy something as precious as this without paying a high price, we do not fully prepare ourselves.”

Teresa encourages people to do all they can to prepare themselves.

“I see clearly that there is nothing on earth with which one can buy so wonderful a blessing. But if we do what we can to avoid becoming attached to any earthly thing and let all our care and concern be with heavenly things, and if within a short time we prepare ourselves completely, as some of the saints did, I believe without a doubt that in a very short time this blessing will be given to us. But it seems to us that we are giving all to God, whereas the truth of the matter is that we are paying God the rent, or giving Him the fruits and keeping for ourselves the ownership and the root.”