Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
THE BIRTH OF FRIENDSHIP
We are approaching -with Christmas joy- one of the three virtues that Saint Teresa highlights, the love to God and neighbours and the detachment from all that has been created.
For a Christian, human relationships and the relationship with Jesus Christ are closely united. They feed each other. We aim to live human relationships -as it happens in the photo shown-from the source and root of the Tree, which is Christ. Saint Teresa developed a great ability for human and divine relations, since she had the experience of feeling very much loved by her family. That allowed her to open herself to trust human friendship. She had many friends, people of both sexes. No doubt that her friendship experiences, strongly influenced her friendship with the sacred Humanity of Jesus and at the same time that she was living her friendship with Jesus, she was learning to purify human relationships.
Let´s focus on her friendship with Jesus, its beginning and development. It will suffice to desire it to initiate it. It would be much better to persevere with prayer and receive God´s love through the sacrament of reconciliation. She will repeat several times that Jesus is “true friend” and that having Him present “everything can be suffered”. She recognises that she has few friends and hopes a few are good. As she knows Jesus better, she tends to look for relationships with others who are searching for the same thing as she is, “He knows that the complete remedy for a soul lies in consulting the friends of God” (The Life 23.4)
It´s important to focus on the interior freedom that the prayer develops in her relationship with Jesus: the more she approaches Him the less personal interests has she on her human relationships. Having her needs of loving and of being loved covered in its essence, she will be freer to deal with other people. And then friendship multiplies. Her texts explain it better:”It is certain that in having need of no one a person has many friends. I have become clearly aware of this through experience“ (The Way of Perfection 2.6)”because the most essential thing is that we should love God without any motive of self-interest.” (The Interior Castle 4.2.9)
To get to know your neighbour as God wants, she supports Saint John. ”for if we are faultless on this point we have done all. I believe human nature is so evil that we could not feel a perfect charity for our neighbour unless it were rooted in the love of God.” (The Interior Castle 5.3.9)
She distinguishes two kinds of affection to others, the spiritual sensitive and the pure spiritual one, depending of our level of interest we may have:
“There are two kinds of love which I am describing. The one is purely spiritual, and apparently has nothing to do with sensuality or the tenderness of our nature, either of which might stain its purity. The other is also spiritual, but mingled with it are our sensuality and weakness; yet it is a worthy love, which, as between relatives and friends, seems lawful. Of this I have already said sufficient. It is of the first kind of spiritual love that I would now speak. It is untainted by any sort of passion, for such a thing would completely spoil its harmony.” (Interior Castle 4.12-13). That is, “love without any interest as Christ loved us” (CE 11.4)
(To be continued)
(If you have on hand the book by Secundino Castro “Ser Cristiano según santa Teresa” /“To be a Christian according to Saint Teresa” it has a very interesting chapter about virtues.)