In 2015 we celebrated the quincentenary of the birth of St Teresa of Avila (1515). A series of 16 Articles where published on her and later formed a Book that one can find below. These articles are the fruits of more than twenty years of teaching St Teresa of Avila. Thy show many pertinent points for today’s Church. Here is the list of the Articles:

 

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  1. Is Mysticism for everybody?
  2. St. Teresa’s Conversion; the meaning of her life
  3. Christ the Groom
  4. The Way of Contemplative Prayer
  5. The Particular Help of the Grace of God
  6. The Supernatural
  7. Finding the Correct Path in the Spiritual Life
  8. Mapping Spiritual Life
  9. The movement of Contemplative Prayer
  10. The necessity of Mental Prayer
  11. Humility
  12. Detachment
  13. Fraternal Charity
  14. God’s Entrepreneur
  15. Evangelisation
  16. Teresa’s Heritage

I hope that reading the present offering to the literature on St. Teresa will whet the reader’s appetite to go on to read her actual works – her Autobiography for instance. This I consider would fulfil a significant part of my purpose in writing the book.

Here, I would like to express my warmest and deepest gratitude to Francesca Crocker, who tirelessly and patiently worked to improve my written English in order to make it understandable and more elegant. Without her help this book would not have seen the light of day.

St Teresa of Avila’s Important Dates

1515

0

Birth : 28 March

1528

13

Loses her Mother

1535

20

Entering the Incarnation Monastery 2Nov

1554

39

Conversion

1556

41

Spiritual Betrothal

1559

44

1st vision of Christ 29 June

1560

45

Transverberation: April

Vision of Hell: Sept

Project of Foundation.

1st Relation

1561

46

1st Reformed Monastery (S. José)

1562

47

Life

Inauguration of the first Monastery: 24 August

S José1 (from now on the small numbers indicate her foundations)

Starting Way of Perfection 1 et 3

1563

48

Constitutions

1565

50

Finishes Life.

Way of Perfection Val.

1566

51

1st Version of her Meditations on the Song of Songs

1567

52

Medina del Campo2.

Meeting John of the Cross

1568

53

Malagon3

Valladolid4

Foundation of Duruelo 28 Nov (Carmelite brothers).

1569

54

Exclamations
Toledo5

Pastrana6

1570

55

Salamanca7

1571

56

Alba de Tormes8

Prior at the Incarnation

Starts 2nd version of the Meditations on the Song of Songs

1572

57

Spiritual Marriage

1573

58

Book of Foundations

Book Way of Perfection Val. End

1574

59

Segovia9

2nd version of the Meditations on the Song of Songs

Index of Valdès

1575

60

Beas10

Seville11

1576

61

Stopped in her Foundations..

Way to visit the monasteries.

Caravaca12

1577

62

Interior Castle. Persecutions

1579

64

End of Persecutions

1580

65

Villanueva de la Jara13

Palencia14

1581

66

Soria15

1582

67

Granada16

Burgos17

Dies at Alba de Tormès 4 Oct at 9 pm

1614

Beatified

1622

Canonisation

1970

Paul VI Declares her 1st Woman Doctor of the Church

Her Books

St Teresa wrote four major books, namely, Autobiography, Way of Perfection, Interior Castle, Foundations, some minor books known as Relations, Constitutions, Comment on Song of Songs, How to Visit a Monastery, Poems,… and a full collection of Letters.

If what is sought for is her teaching on the Prayer of the Heart, this can be found in the three following books: Autobiography, Way of Perfection and Interior Castle, a brief outline of which follows.

1- In her Autobiography she describes four ways of doing the Prayer of the Heart, and offers a first-hand account of her life and particularly of her spiritual life.

2- In the Way of Perfection, we find explained the foundations of spiritual life, namely the three virtues of humility, love and detachment, as well as one of her best descriptions on how to practise Recollection (chapters 26, 28-31). It is the main book for formation in the spiritual life.

3- In the Interior Castle we find a more mature and structured book, where she takes us by hand and leads us from the initial stages in this process to the very last ones, the Spiritual Marriage. The book describes the journey of growth, taking the example of a Castle that symbolises the human being, the soul, and at its very centre the Groom’s room is to be found.The aim of the entire journey is to reach this room.

As a simple piece of advice, I would like to recommend a start be made with her Autobiography when reading St Teresa. When St Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein) read this book, she exclaimed: this is the Truth.

Another way of familiarising oneself with St Teresa, as Father Louis de Leon said, is to visit one of her monasteries and meet the nuns – one can almost see her alive and breathing in her nuns.

 


 

The Book: The Foundations of Spiritual Life

according to St Teresa of Avila

The articles shown above came out as a book, published by the School of Mary : “The Foundations of Spiritual Life according to St Teresa of Avila”. You can find the hardcopy edition here, and the Kindle edition here.

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“The Foundations of Spiritual Life” presents in one volume the core elements of the teaching of St Teresa of Avila in a highly approachable manner. St Teresa is a great Master of the Spiritual Life, a Prophet sent by God five centuries ago, a Light that is capable of offering pertinent guidance for the Church. The author follows St Teresa from within, in her personal relationship with the Risen Lord, revealing the secrets of her teaching and the fruitful way for a living spiritual life that leads to fullness. St Teresa emerges from this presentation under a new light, capable of inspiring us today.

Formation in Spiritual Life is a very important field in the Church, and it is based on a healthy practical and living Spiritual Theology. The author shows us how St Teresa is capable of renewing these vital areas in the Church.The book also takes us through the various aspects of the Prayer of the Heart, showing us the ups and downs that can occur. Not only does the author deal with these difficulties, but he does so in a detailed and lively manner. His approach is of inestimable value in the formation of adult Christians, and indeed in the evangelisation of the Church.