Saturday, July 24, 2010

In Her Own Words

In Her Own Words
"Let us look at our own faults and leave aside those of others, for it is very characteristic of persons with such well-ordered lives to be shocked by everything."
 This remark was uttered in St. Teresa's discussions on the Third Mansion of the Interior Castle.  In her description of souls who have entered this room in the castle, she emphasized the fact that these are virtuous souls who have now set their eyes on God and made the practice of virtue their way of life.  Their life is well organized and commendable, and they spend their time well in the pursuit of praiseworthy causes.  Their priorities have been set right and they have left the way of voluntary sins.  But looking at Teresa's comment above, there are still many problems which are not so obvious..  One of them is the soul's tendency to be easily scandalized by small faults.  Although the soul is living a virtuous life, it is still up to this point,  doing all the works, the active work of acquiring virtues, and because of its apparent success, it is prone to the sin of pride.  So as Teresa says it has the tendency to see the faults of others more acutely and frequently and is moved to anger and impatience over the perceived or actual vices and flaws of others.  What is Teresa's advice?  Exactly as she said above: "Let us look at our own faults and leave aside those of others."  To put it bluntly,  "mind your own business."   I would like to add that I do not think she means faults that lead someone to mortal sin.  I believe that we have an obligation to point out a sin that imperils our neighbor's immortal soul (those contained in the ten commandments) but also remember what St. John the Apostle says that "not all sins are fatal."

We can learn from the imperfections of others.  We can look at ourselves and reflect that if it isn't for the grace of God we are as much capable of this fault, and even more.  And if we are truthfully endowed with abundant natural and spiritual gifts, we don't have to feign humility by denying them, but to be mindful that we can easily lose them by our own neglect and abuse of these gifts.

For a complete reading of the related topic, you can read more of St. Teresa's description of the Third Mansion in her book "Interior Castle." (Kieran and Kavanaugh, Collected works of St. Teresa, Volume 2, pp.304 -315.

No comments:

Post a Comment