Saint Teresa of Avila, mystic, Carmelite reformer, and Doctor of the Church, is one of the greatest people to ever walk the face of the Earth—and even one of the greatest saints. Her position as a spiritual master is uncontested and, as her Way of Perfection will attest, her method of prayer was simple: through astounding sanctity and humility, as well as intensive recollection, we may approach God through meditation and come to know Him intimately. And He always rewards us more than we deserve.
Born to a pious family in 1515, Teresa grew up fascinated with the faith. A popular anecdote from her youth tells of an impromptu escapade with her brother: they attempted to flee to Africa to be martyred by Moors, only to be brought back from the city walls by their uncle. Teresa later joined the Carmelites at 20, but found their practices to be lacking in austerity. She herself was zealous in mortification, and frequently exerted herself to the point of illness. Upon recovery after a particularly long convalescence, she began to experience religious ecstasies, which continued throughout her life. She experienced interior visions (i.e. without sensory manifestation) of Our Lord, levitations, and other graces, including the famous transverberation, where her heart was mystically pierced by a lance borne by a seraph. But Teresa's principle work in life was to reform the Carmelites; she traveled all about Spain establishing new convents and, with St. John of the Cross, men's monasteries. Throughout all of her reform work, her attitude was joyful, saintly, and profoundly charismatic.
From this saintly life developed a method of prayer, a veritable method of growing in perfection, that includes such insights as this:
- Prayer must never be self-indulgent.
- Only solitude and interior quietude are necessary for meditative prayer.
- Vocal prayer is of extreme use and must be said humbly and attentively.
- Meditation is necessary to grow in virtue.
- Recollection of one's nothingness before prayer is essential.
- Humility and perseverance are necessary for prayer.
- And so much more . . .
The Way of Perfection is an astounding work by an astounding saint, a highly detailed and immensely useful guide to approaching the Lord through higher and higher degrees of meditative prayer and contemplation, written by the queen among the saints of meditation, beyond compare in mystical wisdom. Let that wisdom pierce your heart too, through the words of these pages.
- St. Teresa of Avila
- TAN Books
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