Written by Herself.
As I have been commanded and left at liberty to describe at length my way of prayer, and the workings of the grace of our Lord within me, I could wish that I had been allowed at the same time to speak distinctly and in detail of my grievous sins and wicked life. But it has not been so willed; on the contrary, I am laid herein under great restraint; and therefore, for the love of our Lord, I beg of every one who shall read this story of my life to keep in mind how wicked it has been; and how, among the Saints who were converted to God, I have never found one in whom I can have any comfort. For I see that they, after our Lord had called them, never fell into sin again; I not only became worse, but, as it seems to me, deliberately withstood the graces of His Majesty, because I saw that I was thereby bound to serve Him more earnestly, knowing, at the same time, that of myself I could not pay the least portion of my debt.
1. The Saint, in a letter written November 19, 1581, to Don Pedro de Castro, then canon of Avila, speaking of this book, calls it the book "Of the compassions of God"--Y ansi intitule ese libro De las Misericordias de Dios. That letter is the 358th in the edition of Don Vicente de la Fuente, and the 8th of the fourth volume of the Doblado edition of Madrid. "Vitam igitur suam internam et supernaturalem magis pandit quam narrat actiones suas mere humanas" (Bollandists, n. 2).
May He be blessed for ever Who waited for me so long! I implore Him with my whole heart to send me His grace, so that in all clearness and truth I may give this account of myself which my confessors command me to give; and even our Lord Himself, I know it, has also willed it should be given for some time past, but I had not the courage to attempt it. And I pray it may be to His praise and glory, and a help to my confessors; who, knowing me better, may succour my weakness, so that I may render to our Lord some portion of the service I owe Him. May all creatures praise Him for ever! Amen.
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Life of St. Teresa of Jesus. Prologue. / Revised 21 June 2003 / © Copyright 2003, Elizabeth T. Knuth / URL: http://www.users.csbsju.edu/~eknuth/teresa/life/prologue.html