Teresa of Avila's Way of Perfection... For Everyone
Those who turn to spiritual classics for guidance and inspiration often find their style daunting. The original texts still have much to offer but their diction and idiom chosen for another era and audience pose an obstacle to many contemporary...
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Those who turn to spiritual classics for guidance and inspiration often find their style daunting. The original texts still have much to offer but their diction and idiom chosen for another era and audience pose an obstacle to many contemporary readers. Teresa of Avilas Way of Perfection for Everyone is the first in a series that aims to make some of the greatest Christian teachers accessible to all.The Way of Perfection was written in the sixteenth century as an introductory text on life and prayer for Teresa of Avilas sisters young Carmelita novices setting out on the contemplative path. This retelling of her classic in modern idiom makes the kernel of her teaching accessible to the many contemporary readers who feel called to a deeper more Godcentered life. Teresa an acknowledged expert sets out the principles and practice of the life of prayer that can speak to you as you journey with God in your own life.
At the age of seven, Teresa ran away from her home in Avila, hoping to be martyred at the hands of the Moors. As a teen, she secretly enjoyed reading novels of chivalry. Taught by Augustinian nuns, Teresa acquired a sense of religious vocation only gradually. Deciding to become a nun, she professed as a Carmelite of Avila in 1537. Although she became ill to the point of having wax applied to her eyes in preparation of death, she did not die, but she did leave the convent. Teresa later returned to the convent and, upon reading St. Augustine's Confessions, experienced a conversion at the age of 40. When she experienced visions and heard voices, she wondered at first if it was the work of the devil. She found comfort in Peter of Alcantara's assessment that her experiences were of a divine origin. Life as a Carmelite nun tended to be comfortable, but not dissolute. Inspired by her mystical experiences, Teresa took practical steps to reform the Carmelite order. In 1562 she founded a convent with a stricter regime of discipline than was common. She also organized a Discalced Carmelite monastery for men. In doing so, she met Juan de Yepes y Alvarez, known to us as the mystic St. John of the Cross, who became a fellow reformer. In all, she founded 16 reformed convents. Teresa's spirituality cannot be characterized in a word, but humility rather than honor was at its center. Her life of contemplation led to active service. Upon her death in 1582, her body remained preserved. This, along with other signs of saintliness, led to her canonization in 1622. In 1970, she was declared a "Doctor of the Church," the first woman in the history of the Catholic church to receive that honor. Her books, which include her autobiography, The Life of Teresa of Jesus, and her seminal work, The Interior Castle, are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature, as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practice.
Elizabeth Ruth Obbard, the daughter of a military officer, was educated in England and Germany. After completing her schooling, she entered the Carmelite Order where she has been a contemplative nun for many years. She has written and illustrated several books, including Medieval Women Mystics and Teresa of Avilas Way of Perfection.