St TERESA OF AVILA
“I shall speak of nothing of which I have no experience,
either in my own life or in the observation of others,
or which the Lord has not taught me in prayer.”
(The Way of Perfection, Prologue)
I wish I could be allowed to describe the many occasions on which I failed God during [my early years in religious life] through not having leaned upon the strong pillar of prayer….I can testify that this is one of the most grievous kinds of life that I think can be imagined, for I had neither any joy in God nor any pleasure in the world. When I was in the midst of worldly pleasures, I was distressed by the remembrance of what I owed to God; when I was with God, I grew restless because of worldly affections. This is so grievous a conflict that I do not know how I managed to endure it for a month, much less for so many years. Nevertheless, I can see how great was the Lord's mercy to me, since while I was still having dealings with the world, he gave me courage to practise prayer….
Anyone who has not begun to pray, I beg, for the love of the Lord, not to miss so great a blessing. There is nothing here to fear but only something to desire. Even if there be no great progress, or much effort in reaching such perfection as to deserve the favours and mercies God bestows on the more generous, at least a person will gradually gain a knowledge of the road to heaven. And if he perseveres, I trust then in the mercy of God who never fails to repay anyone who has taken him for a friend. For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing but an intimate conversation between friends; it means conversing frequently and alone with him who we know loves us. In order that love be true and the friendship endure, the wills of the friends must be in accord…. And if you do not yet love him as he loves you…you will endure the pain of spending a long while with one who is so different from you when you see how much it benefits you to possess his friendship and how much he loves you.