Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
STRENGTH OF SPIRIT
This first virtue- Strength of Spirit-can be found in almost all the pages in Teresa´s writings. I´ll try to explain it in a simple way: the human being brings about, from its origins, a tendency to evil called original sin; in His fight against devil, Jesus Christ freed us from any tendency to evil; giving us back freedom to fight it off; Through baptism we became part of the Love of God and the Justice of God´s world, and were freed from that slavery. Nevertheless still remains in us some weakness, some faintness, we are “apachurrados” people in Mexico say, “enguañangaos” I heard once among the Boricuas. We need a boost to our vitality, to our strength.
That strength from our weakness -according to Teresa- is given from direct contact with The Humanity of Christ in vocal and meditation prayer along with the sacraments. It happens within, unnoticeable at the beginning, and able to help us face with courage the difficulties in our life. From there, the desire to live will come, as well as the desire to love and to help others, persistence, capacity to open our eyes to life and speak out against injustice, to be able to commit ourselves in just causes; summarizing, from it will come the strength to love. We will become strong with the Strong, as she tells us in the seventh mansion.
Some Teresian texts
From the end of the itinerary to know where we go, becoming one with the Strong:
“…it now enjoys would give it much greater strength than it ever had before. For if, as David says, with the holy we shall be holy, it cannot be doubted that, if we are made one with the Strong, we shall gain strength through the most sovereign union of spirit with Spirit, and we shall appreciate the strength of the saints which enabled them to suffer and die. (Mansions 7.4.10)
“This I wish you, sisters, to endeavour to obtain: let us desire it, and employ ourselves in prayer, not in order to enjoy ourselves, but to obtain this strength to serve our Lord” (Mansions 7.4.12).
Christ is the Strong one from whom strength to the weak people come:
“I should like very much to advise such persons to be careful not to hide their talent, for it would seem that God is pleased to choose them to the advantage of many, especially in these times when He needs His friends to be strong so that they may uphold the weak.”(Life 15.5)
The first evidence of this strength given by spiritual life is shown in the determination to persist:
“Let us now return to those who wish to travel on this road, and will not halt until they reach their goal, which is the place where they can drink of this water of life. Although in some book or other—in several, in fact—I have read what a good thing it is to begin in this way, I do not think anything will be lost if I speak of it here. As I say, it is most important—all-important, indeed—that they should begin well by making an earnest and most determined resolve not to halt until they reach their goal, whatever may come, whatever may happen to them, however hard they may have to labour, whoever may complain of them, whether they reach their goal or die on the road or have no heart to confront the trials which they meet, whether the very world dissolves before them. Yet again and again people will say to us: “It is dangerous”, “So-and-so was lost through doing this”,
“Someone else got into wrong ways”, “Some other person, who was always praying, fell just the same”, “It is bad for virtue”, “It is not meant for women; it may lead them into delusions”, “They would do better to stick to their spinning”, “These subtleties are of no use to them”, “It is quite enough for them to say their Paternoster and Ave Maria.” (The Way of Perfection 21.2)
In short, our strength comes from Christ:
”On various occasions it happened that I found myself greatly tried and maligned about a certain matter, to which I shall refer later, by almost everyone in the place where I am living and by my Order. I was greatly distressed by the numerous things which arose to take away my peace of mind. But the Lord said to me: Why dost thou fear? Knowest thou not that I am all-powerful? I will fulfil what I have promised thee.” And shortly afterwards this promise was in fact completely fulfilled. But even at that time I began at once to feel so strong that I believe I could have set out on fresh undertakings, even if serving Him had cost me further trials and I had had to begin to suffer afresh” (Life 26.2)