St. Teresa’s Tree of Life

The love of God is the tree of life in the midst of the terrestrial paradise. It has, like other trees, six parts, — roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit.

The roots are the virtues by which love itself is acquired, and the principal are nine in number: 1. True penitence, and reception of the Sacraments; 2. Observance of the Commandments and Rules; 3. Fear of God; 4. Mortification of the passions and appetites; 5. Retirement, and avoidance of the occasion of sin; 6. Examination of conscience; 7. Humility; 8. Obedience; 9. Charity to our neighbors.

The trunk of the tree is surrender of self-will to the will of God.

We may discover what the branches are by those words, Sub umbra illus quem desideraveram, sedi — Under the shadow of Him whom I had longed for, I rested. The first of these is lively faith, by which the soul can view the Sun of Justice closely without being dazzled. The second, true confidence in the Divine protection, by means of which one can escape being cast down in the midst of adversities. The third, ardent desires, and firm resolutions, and other interior acts, continually directed towards obtaining true love. The fourth, constancy in remaining seated beneath this tree.

The leaves are: 1. New graces freely given; 2. Interior sweetness, joy, spiritual gladness, tenderness, or tears; 3. Raptures and ecstasies, referred to in those words: Introduxit me rex incellam vinariam. All these things are called leaves, because they serve as an ornament to the tree, and help to mature the fruit; and in the winter of aridity and tribulation they fall, as the leaves do from a tree, while the love of God remains.

The flowers are the works and heroic virtues which the loving soul produces, and are what the Bride asked for in the words, Fulcite me floribus — Sustain me with flowers.

The fruits are the trials, afflictions, and persecutions, which the soul bears with patience, when God gives them to her, or which she even procures for herself of her own accord, to serve Him better, or to imitate Jesus Christ in suffering.

-St. Teresa

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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