Let us remember our holy forebears of the past, those hermits whose lives we aim to imitate. We must remember our real founders, those holy fathers whose descendants we are. It was by way of poverty and humility, we know, that they came to the enjoyment of God.
On the subject of the beginnings of Orders, I sometimes hear it said that the Lord gave greater graces to those saints who went before us because they were the foundations. Quite so, but we too must always bear in mind what it means to be foundations for those who will come later. For if those of us who are alive now have not fallen away from what they did in the past, and those who come after us do the same, the building will always stand firm. What use is it to me for the saints of the past to have been what they were, if I come along after them and behave so badly that I leave the building in ruins because of my bad habits?
For obviously those who come later don’t remember those who have died years before as clearly as they do the people they see around them. A fine state of affairs it is if I insist that I am not one of the first, and do not realize what a difference there is between my life and virtues, and the lives of those God has endowed with such graces!
Any of you who sees your Order falling away in any respect, must try to be the kind of stone the building can be rebuilt with—the Lord will help to rebuild it. For love of our Lord I beg them to remember how quickly everything comes to an end, and what a favor our Lord has done us in bringing us to this Order, and what a punishment anyone who starts any kind of relaxation will deserve. They must always look at the race we are descended from—that race of holy prophets. What numbers of saints we have in heaven who have worn this habit of ours! We must have the holy audacity to aspire, with God’s help, to be like them. The struggle will not last long, but the outcome will be eternal."
-- From the works of Saint Teresa of Avila
(Int. Cast., dwel1. 5, 1:2; Way, c. 14:4; Founds., c. 14:4; 4:6, 7; 29:33)