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"Athenagoric Letter"

Athenagoric Letter

An Athenagorical letter, 'worthy of Athena' [ excerpt ]

Late spring, 1690. Writing daring theatre and poetry is far from the most dangerous of Sor Juana's occupations as she finds herself increasingly embroiled in theological questions, disputed by the princes of the Church with quiet savagery. The mind of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, even half-engaged, is a prodigious resource. Her letters and arguments are coveted and examined by bishops, confessors and inquisitors alike...

...His Excellency may well have thought, seeing me draw towards a conclusion, that I had forgotten the very point on which I have been commanded to write: What is, in my view, the greatest expression, the greatest fineza, of Divine Love...

       As Christ our Redeemer preached his miraculous doctine, and having performed so many miracles in marvels in so many places, he reached at last his native country, in which he should have been owed greater affections, and yet directly he arrived, instead of singing his praises, his neighbours and compatriots began to censure him and list his supposed faults.... With the result that Christ, who had wanted to work miracles for his native land, and to award them all manner of benefices, saw then in their bad faith and dark mutterings how they would receive Christ's favours, and so he withheld them: so as not to give them occasion to do ill...

       And regarding Judas, upon whom He showered many particular favours not given to the others, in the hour of his betrayal Christ lamented not that Judas had hanged himself, but rather the damage such favours had done him.... By which He seemed to regret having favoured Judas with the benefice of creation, saying that it were better he had never been born.... And from which we may conclude that the greatest expression of his Love would be to withhold His favours. Ah me, my Lord and God, how blindly and clumsily we lurch about not seeing the negative favours You give us!...

--Juana Inés de la Cruz

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