To the Reverend Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus, in the Province of Castile.
The provincial to whom this energetic letter is addressed was Father Saurez. The Saint mentions the cause which induced her to defend herself against a certain false report regarding Father Gasper de Salazar. This holy man was a Jesuit, and had been her confessor for some years; but a rumour spread about that he was on the point of becoming a Carmelite, and that a revelation had been made, either to him or the Saint, to induce him to leave his illustrious order. The father provincial, believing the report, wrote a sharp letter to the Saint, and accused her of being the cause of this change in Father Salazar. This she indignantly denies in the following letter. Date, 1578. Carta XX. Spanish ed. vol. i.
JESUS. The Grace of the Holy Spirit be ever with your Reverence. Amen.
I assure you I was greatly surprised on receiving the letter, which the Father Rector gave me on the part of your Reverence, in which you seem to imagine that I have been persuading Father Gaspar de Salazar to forsake the Society, and to enter our Order of Carmel, and that I had made him understand such was the will of our Lord, as was manifested by a revelation.
With regard to the first charge, His Majesty knows well, that so far from persuading Father Gaspar to leave the Society, I never desired such a thing, much less endeavoured to persuade him to it. And even when I had heard something on the subject–(though I had not heard it from himself)–I was so grieved and so angry, that it injured my health, which at that time was very indifferent; and I heard the report only so recently, that I think your Reverence must have heard it long before I did.
With regard to the revelation of which you speak, you may easily see that as he did not write to me, and I knew nothing of his intention, I could not be aware of his having had any revelation on the subject.
But even supposing I myself had this revelation, which you call “dreaming,” I could not be so imprudent as to wish him to make so important a change, through any such cause, neither should I have spoken to him about it; for, thank God, I have many good friends who teach me what credit is to be given to such revelations: nor do I believe that Father Salazar, who is a very prudent man, would have paid any attention to this, had there not been something more in the affair.
With respect to what your Reverence says about superiors investigating the case, this would be a very proper thing; and you may send him your commands, for I am very certain that when your Reverence shall give him notice, he will do nothing without your leave. I will never disown the sincere friendship which exists between Father Salazar and myself, nor will I deny the favours for which I am indebted to him, though I am convinced that his willingness to oblige me was rather a motive to render some service to our Lord and His Blessed Mother, than any regard he had for me, for I believe it sometimes happened that we did not write to each other for two years together. I cannot, however, deny that the friendship existing between us is of long standing! and every one knows that as I was, for some time, more in want of help than I am at present (having had at that time only two friars belonging to the Order), I should then have had greater reasons to induce him to make this change than I have now; for, thanks be to God, we have at this time, I think, more than two hundred Religious, amongst whom are many persons quite good enough for our manner of living. Never did I suppose, that the hand of God will be more restrained to the Order of His Mother than to other Orders.1
With regard to the assertion of your Reverence that I wrote certain letters in order that it might be known I opposed the change: may God never write, my name in the Book of Life, if ever such a thought came across me. Let this expression be attributed to my warmth, for I think I cannot be too earnest in trying to make your Reverence understand, that I never treated with the Society except as one who always had their interest at heart, and who would even expose her life to serve its members, in everything which was in accordance with the laws of God. His secrets are deep; and as I have not in any way been mixed up in this affair of which you have spoken to me, so God is my witness that I have no desire to meddle with it for the future. If the fault should be laid on my shoulders, it will not be the first time I have suffered without being guilty. But I know by experience, that when our Lord is pleased, all things become easy; and never can I believe His Majesty will permit, even for grave reasons, much less for such a trifle as this, that the Society should go against the Order of His Mother, since He has made the one to be instrumental in restoring and renewing the fervour of the other. But if this evil should be allowed, I fear it may happen, that what is gained on one side may be lost in a hundred ways on the other.
We are all servants of one and the same King. God grant that the children of the Son and the Mother may be such, as to think of nothing but marching, like courageous soldiers, under the banner of our Captain, that so we may accomplish His will. If the Carmelites acquit themselves of this duty, it is certain that the fathers of the Society of Jesus will not separate themselves from them, though I have often been threatened with such a misfortune. May God preserve your Reverence many years.
I know of the favours your Reverence has always shown us; and though so miserable a sinner, I often recommend you to our Lord, and I beg of you to do as much for me; Lord, during these last six months, afflictions and persecutions have fallen very heavily upon this poor old body of mine, amongst which this our misunderstanding is not the least. But, after all, I give your Reverence my word, that I will not speak to this father in any way about the execution of his design, nor will I allow any one else to speak to him about it, nor have I hitherto done so.
Your Reverence’s unworthy Servant and Subject,
TERESA DE JESUS.
February the 10th, 1578.
1 “Que la mano de Dios estara mas abreviada para la orden de su Madre, que para las otras.”