The Way of Perfection: St Teresa of Avila

Discussion in 'Books, movies, links, websites.' started by padraig, Dec 29, 2023.

  1. padraig

    padraig Powers

    I am practicing my Spanish at the moment by reading three books in Spanish and English concerning , 'The Way of Perfection', by the Great Saint Teresa of Avila and though I would throw in my two cents worth as I rolled through it.



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  2. padraig

    padraig Powers

    Well what to say about St Teresa herself?

    Well in the first place that she is a Doctor of the Church which means that the Church herself considers herself to be a paramount Master of her subject matter, which is the ways of Mystical prayer. What is mysticism? Well one French writer wonderfully described it as an, 'Exploration of the Mystery of Christ. Or perhaps it could be described as a study of the way of holiness, of how people grown into saints. For as St Paul said,

    2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

    This is a very Catholic subject matter I don't think you get Protestants on the whole reflecting on this. Especially the born again type. For them you've kinda made it with a bang and the growth in holiness thing escapes them.

    For me the only Saint on the subject matter who comes close to her was St John of the Cross, also a Doctor of the Church. But to me for a variety of reasons like most people, I think, I greatly prefer Saint Teresa. She seems to be more human, more relaxed, much , much easier to understand and much more a practical teacher.

    The only superior writings I can think of are in Scripture itself. The teachings of St Paul of Tarsus. The Book of Job. The Songs of Songs and the words, of course of Jesus Himself ( St Therese of the Child Jesus and others saints comment that as time rolled by they tended to only read the bible.)

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  3. Carmel333

    Carmel333 Powers

    Within a few months after my conversion, I was led to this book and it did wonders helping a previous fallen away Catholic who didn't know her faith to negotiate this new life of deep prayer Jesus had blessed me with. Because of her, when the Dark Night came to me, I did not fall away in despair which I do think a lot of new Christians do. She also made me very wary of the Protestants who came out of the woodwork! it seems to "advise" me after my conversion. ALL of them told me to stay away from the Catholic Church. Made me realize the devil doesn't care how much you pray and how comfortable you are being a christian as long as you DON'T receive the sacraments Jesus told us we needed to reach Heaven. Teresa was the great Saint God raised up during Luther's time and she is very strong about this in her writings. If you are a wishy washy Catholic who picks and chooses what you believe, she will rock your world!
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  4. Clare A

    Clare A Archangels

    I read the Interior Castle at a time when I needed it for spiritual understanding. It helped make a lot of things clear. Teresa is wonderful, but for me, a lot would have been over my head, or a blank, until I had become ready for her. I still find John a bit dense; he wants to explain growth in prayer so he writes... a poem??? Why not skip the verse and just tell it as it is?

    I admit I'm missing out, because John is considered one of the great masters of prayer, and John Paul II greatly valued him.

    There is an excellent group on Facebook called Authentic Mystical Prayer, run by Connie Rossini. There are three chat groups, stages in Prayer, Problems in Prayer and Contemplation - can't remember exactly but I joined all three.

    Carmel is right; Protestants and non-Conformists are deeply skeptical about mysticism so they stay in the first two mansions. Very sad.
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  5. So very true about The Interior spiritual director (a Carmelite) told me when I started reading it that I would get to a point where I would not understand because I had not experienced that mansion yet.
    That is why it is important to revisit the book later, when hopefully by the grace of God one has progressed.

    I will say that when someone on an online forum claims to have entered the seventh mansion, it is usually quite evident that they are more likely in the third or fourth, especially if they are enamored by unusual spiritual gifts in themselves or others. An experienced Spiritual Director...not just a essential for progress along with humility, detachment, perseverance in prayer and charity.

    St Teresa's deathbed wish was that her fellow Carmelites would follow the Rule of St Albert (Carmelite rule) with great vigor and strict adherence. The evangelical councils (Poverty, Chasity and Obedience) are essential for spiritual progress even for lay people. The Church (and Christ himself) makes it clear that ALL are called to holiness, not just religious. Our detachment from possessions, power and comfort will look different than monks and nuns, but we still must strive to live out the spirit of the councils according to our state in life, and with discretion considering charity.

    Unfortunately, many 3rd order Carmelite groups over the last few decades have abandoned even striving for perfection, and this laxity is exactly why St. Theresa started her reform of the order.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2023
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  6. Katfalls

    Katfalls Powers

    There are two different Carmelite communities. The O Carms or original Carmelite order and the Discalced Carmelite Order. St.Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and St John of the Cross reformed the Carmelites. Some chose to go with them and some remained as O Carm. St Teresa of Jesus wrote The Way of Perfection and I encourage anyone with a desire for a deep mystical relationship with God to read it. When I first read it I became great friends with her. She spoke to me, all the things I had been wondering about. But we are not all Carmelites, so if you do not feel called do not be discouraged. God calls us to many different vocations. St John of the Cross is difficult because he is poetic. Almost like a psalmist. Very deep and on a mystical level. I'm still reading him very slowly. All the Doctors of the church are amazing and wonderful reading.
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  7. I am a third order Discalced Carmelite. By the way I don't find St. John of The Cross difficult. In fact, much of his work is very straightforward. St Teresa can be just as deep and "difficult", her meditations on the Song of Songs comes to mind.

    St Teresa's teachings were a great gift to the Church.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2023
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  8. Katfalls

    Katfalls Powers

    Me too
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  9. Does your community (not you exclusively) strive to live out the spirit of the councils as Teresa stressed? Do they strive to go beyond the minimal requirements?
    Just curious.
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  10. Katfalls

    Katfalls Powers

    Yes, My current community does way more than the other two communities I attended. I've moved three times so had to find new communities each time. My current community is in the Washington Province in Celina, Ohio.
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  11. Likely, you understand much more in St John of the Cross than I do...which is likely why I don't find him hard to understand...It is likely because my intellect is dull.

    But it doesn't bother me. I take St Teresa's words to heart...
    “Thus I highly recommend that when you read some book or hear a sermon or think about the mysteries of our sacred faith you avoid tiring yourselves or wasting your thoughts in subtle reasoning about what you cannot properly understand. Many things are not meant for women to understand, nor even for men” (Med 1.1)."
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  12. Katfalls

    Katfalls Powers

    Where is your community?

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  13. I would rather not say...
    I was stalked by a member of the forum that preceded this one.
    I am in the USA.
    Our community is a bit different than most 3rd order groups...We do not eliminate the high bar set by Teresa, although we do have minimum requirements for membership (low bar)...
    Daily Mass when possible, 1/2 hour of mental prayer, morning and evening Liturgy of the hours, the great fast etc. etc.
    We take seriously the "double portion" Elijah passed to Elisha ...The call of a hermit and prophet.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2023
  14. Carmel333

    Carmel333 Powers

    I too am a 3rd Order Discalced. Community was Holy Hill but for many years because of my disability have been on my own. Lately I discovered that a woman that moved to my Parish is also and would like to meet so that would be good! I just have followed my rule all these years and never got past my 5 year vows. But just following the Rule has done me a world of good ! Highly recommend the Rule to anyone whether a Carmelite or not. To have and keep a daily prayer regimen as a habit must help anyone and to practice Contemplative Prayer as Teresa advises even if one is in mortal sin can only help heal and bring to repentance and salvation.
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  15. Carmelite

    Carmelite Archangels

    St. John of the Cross is my favourite. Absolutely, love his writings.
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  16. Clare A

    Clare A Archangels

    Then I think I should try to read John! Ironically, I have the complete works, left behind by my daughter when she moved to the USA. It looks unread.

    BTW, I'm a lay Benedictine and am interested that some lay Carmelite groups recommend the Divine Office daily. Connie Rossini doesn't, which did trouble me as I have been using it, on and off, for nearly 40 years and feel that it is of great spiritual value, it also unites us with the Church.

    Do any of your groups recommend the Examen? I've come across this several times with Carmelite spirituality, although it's strictly speaking, Ignatian. I see no problem in borrowing from other traditions.
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  17. Katfalls

    Katfalls Powers

    You can do an Examen when you say the Act of Contrition. And meditate on it. This is done at the beginning of Night Payer. For those that don't have the book of Divine Office or Common Prayer you can find it online for free. I use Universalis. Our Probincial said we could use the book or online.
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  18. padraig

    padraig Powers

    Saint Teresa was, I guess a Catholic Catholic. Not only that but from a profoundly Catholic country, steeped in its very,very Catholic culture. As an Irish person whose Faith had been persecuted and derided for centuries coming across Catholic Spain through encountering St Teresa in her writings was an eye opener. One of her favourite sayings that is most quoted is, 'I am a child of the Church' . So she was, so very,very much a child of the Church.

    I am still looking forward to moving to live in Spain next year all being well.I notice from what I have seen of it that it has changed very much in that it still seems to be surrounded by its great walls from the saints days.

  19. padraig

    padraig Powers

    I think Pope St John Paul actually did his Doctorate on Saint John of the Cross when he studied in Rome. His interest in this was not an accident when he was a young man in Kracow he wanted to be an actor and used to take part in theatrics , even after the Nazis occupied Poland during the Second World War. At the time he used to do heavy physical labour in a quarry because the Nazis has closed down university education there. But there was a tailor in the city who had a rosary group and who was a saint, I think very much in the Carmelite tradition, a man of the deepest pray called Jan Tyranowski who invited him to join the prayer group. It was him who invited the future Pope to join them in prayer and Jan because his Spiritual Guide , which led St John Paul to discover his vocation.

    So I guess you could claim in a way that Pope John Paul was a Carmelite Pope. :):) Of course as well he and the Carmelite Sister Lucia of Fatima were great friends.


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  20. Mario

    Mario Powers


    Thank you all for these informative posts. Great wisdom and insights - and of course there is always my sister, St. Therese, who has continued inserting herself into the O'Loughlin clan since Grandpa Dan visited her grave in 1909.:love::ROFLMAO:
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2023

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