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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Friendship with God and Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Avila, in her masterpiece, Interior Castle, after describing all kinds of grades of prayer and mystical experience of the Lord, goes on to say that in addition to all these kinds of union, there is another kind of union with the Lord - a union of wills. What she is saying is that the Christian life of prayer is suppose to be a life of friendship with God - a real friendship that ought to bring out the very best in us, and a friendship that reveals the very best of God. She explains that the measure and standard by which we know our prayer is real, that our friendship with the Lord is real, is through our obedience, our readiness to do his will come what come may. His will is, as described by her, that we love one another, "He desires that if you see a Sister who is sick to whom you can bring some relief, you have compassion on her and not worry about losing devotion: and that if she is suffering pain, you also feel it: and that , if necessary, you fast so that she might eat." Interior Castle, V:3.11 (translators Rodriguez and Kavanaugh, Washington D.C.: ICS, 1980, p 352). As noted in the last post, the presence of the Lord in prayer is above all performative, a life of love I must live out not only for his sake, but even for my own sake, if I am to be true to my deepest self. This means, if we are not to betray the Lord or ourselves or abandon the One who awaits us with love, we must act on what we know the desires of Christ to be - desires that He discloses to his friends in both prayer and daily life.

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