Reflection on the Narrow Way to Life – St. Teresa of Avila

O my Lord, how obvious it is that You are almighty! There’s no need to look for reasons for what You want. For, beyond all natural reason, You make things so possible that You manifest clearly there’s no need for anything more than truly to love You and truly leave all for You, so that You, my Lord, may make everything easy, It fits well here to say that You feign labor in Your law. For I narrow way of lifedon’t see, Lord, nor do I know how the road that leads to You is narrow. I see that it is a royal road, not a path; a road that is safer for anyone who indeed takes it. Very far off are the occasions of sin, those narrow maintain passes and the rocks that make one fall. What I would call a path, a wretched path and a narrow way, is the kind which has on one side, where a soul can fall, a valley far below, and on the other side a precipice: as soon as one becomes careless one is hurled down and broken to pieces.

They who really love You, my God, walk safely on a broad and royal road. They are far from the precipice. Hardly have they begun to stumble when You, Lord, give them Your hand. One fall is not sufficient for a person to be lost, nor are many, if they love You and not the things of the world. They journey in the valley of humility. I cannot understand what it is that makes people afraid of setting out on the road of perfection. May the Lord, because of who He is, give us understanding of how wretched is the security that lies in such manifest dangers as following the crowd and how true security lies in striving to make progress on the road of God. Let them turn their eyes to Him and not fear the setting of this Sun of Justice, nor if we don’t first abandon Him, will He allow us to walk at night and go astray.

They aren’t afraid to walk among lions (by which I mean whatever the world calls honors, delights, and similar pleasures) where it seems each lion would want to tear off a piece of them; and here on this road it seems the devil makes them afraid of field mice. A thousand times do I marvel and ten thousand times would I like to find satisfaction in bewailing and crying out to everyone my great blindness and wickedness so that doing this might help them to open their eyes. May anyone who can, through God’s goodness, open them; and may He not permit me to become blind, amen.

Saint Teresa of Avila
The Book of Her Life, Chapter 35

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Art for this post on a reflection on the narrow way to life by Saint Teresa of Avila: Modified detail of Landscape with Christ and His Disciples on the Road to Emmaus, Jan Wildens, 1640s, author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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