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Of all the works by
Teresa of Avila, The Way of Perfection is the most easily understood.
Written at the height of the controversy surrounding the reforms
Teresa instituted in the Carmelite order, it instructed the nuns in
the practice of prayer. Teresa discusses the three essentials of a
prayer-filled life-fraternal love, detachment from material things,
and true humility. Her counsels on these are the fruit of her
practical experience. The book develops these ideas and takes up
directly the matters of prayer and contemplation. Teresa gives
various maxims for the practice of prayer and concludes the book with
her masterful and impassioned version of the Lord's Prayer. “How is
it that Thou canst give us so much with Thy first word?” she says
of the “Our” at the beginning of that prayer. The simple and
practical nature of this mystical classic will appeal to all who seek
a life of wholeness.
Teresa of Avila
(1515-1582), also called St. Teresa of Jesus, was a Spanish nun and
one of the great mystics and religious women of the Roman Catholic
Church. She was the leader of the Carmelite Reform, which restored
and emphasized the austerity and contemplative character of this
religious order. Canonized in 1622, she was elevated to Doctor of the
Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970, the first woman to be so honored.