What exactly comes to mind when you think of “righteousness,” especially interior righteousness? Some synonyms that I found for “righteousness” include words such as justice and honor. There are many ways that righteousness can be shown on the outside, but how exactly can we practice the idea of interior righteousness?
When I think of “interior righteousness,” I think of people who live contemplative lives. One person that comes to mind is St. Teresa of Avila. She started out as a spoiled, pampered woman from a wealthy family. Her lavish lifestyle continued even after she became a nun. However, when she started learning more about what contemplative life consisted of, she felt God pulling her towards Him.
In her autobiography, she said “The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God.” God inevitably worked His way into Teresa’s life and as a result of this change, Teresa began to reform the Carmelite order and became a great and prolific writer, especially about the contemplative life and spirituality.
In her book Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila compared the soul to a castle made out of a single diamond with many rooms. She later goes on to say:“We shall never learn to know ourselves except by endeavoring to know God.” By knowing God, we begin to see ourselves the way that God sees us.
How do we begin to see ourselves the way God sees us? By practicing the virtue of humility. St. Teresa of Avila said, “As I see it, we shall never succeed in knowing ourselves unless we seek to know God: let us think of His greatness and then come back to our own baseness; by looking at His purity we shall see our foulness; by meditating upon His humility, we shall see how far we are from being humble.” It is through humility that we learn how to love beyond how the world defines it. “Love consists, not in the extent of our happiness, but in the firmness of our determination to try to please God in everything, and to endeavor, in all possible ways...”
St. Teresa of Avila couldn’t reform an entire order without first reforming herself. If we want to be the kind of people who want to see righteousness done in the world, we have to begin with practicing righteousness in ourselves by being humble.
Reflect: Reflect on the quotes from St. Teresa of Avila. Which one stands out to you the most? How do you think humility ties into the idea of interior righteousness?
Act: Pray the Litany of Humility and see what act of kindness you can do that doesn’t draw attention to yourself.