Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
“The Art to Serve God”, is a book written by the Franciscan friar Alonso de Madrid, to whom Teresa advises us to read before entering in the world of virtues. We can note that in the theology of virtues called by her “effects” owes a lot to this book. She follows his structure indications and she explains them her own way and in the order she believes to be best. The Way of Perfection and mainly its first chapters go along with his writings.
“In this state it can make many acts of resolution to do great things for God and it can awaken its own love. It can make other acts which will help the virtues to grow, as is explained in a book called The Art to Serve God, which is very good and suitable for persons in this state, because in it the understanding is active.” (The Life 12.2)
Virtues are requested to God but at the same time are conquered, they are a consequence of meditation on the mysteries of the life of Christ, “True holiness consists and is held in one single point, which is to be of one spirit and love with God, although to reach such a high point as the one mentioned it is required to go through the path of virtues mentioned and written in the Holy Gospel and the Holy Scriptures, and the Son of God taught us with so much work as we know” (page 100 and 104)
The person has to try to gradually eliminate his personality weaknesses and sins and begin to build a new way of life with virtues, “to diminish flaws and make virtues grow” (page 123 and 125)
Humility virtue is “the basis of everything” the author says and Teresa follows him (page 133). The very first thing is prayer, “the second one, to build up with many particular acts as well as tangible ones, those habits concerning virtues” (page 135)
The Passion of Christ becomes central and most of the virtues come from the suffering of Christ “don´t anyone expect to grow rich in virtues if he doesn´t learn them from the human God, and specially in his Sacred Passion” (page 141 and 149)
In meditation understanding, acts. By meditating the mysteries of Christ´s life, we can gain virtues or ways of living life imitating Him as a friend or as our Lord, who in fact is; from there, determination kindles strengths of the soul that involves love, as we will see” (page 113 and 117)
(I have followed the BAC edition, on its first volume of Místicos Franciscanos (Franciscan Mystics) Madrid,1948; with an excellent introduction by Juan Francisco Gomis who tells us in the introduction that the first edition is from 1521 and not from 1526 as it was believed up to then)