London; Thomas Baker, 1921 3rd Edition
WHILE I was beseeching Our Lord to-day that He would speak through me, since I could find nothing to say and had no idea how to begin to carry out the obligation laid upon me by obedience, a thought occurred to me which I will now set down, in order to have some foundation on which to build. I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions.
Thus begins Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, one of the most celebrated books ever written by a mystic on abiding in union with Christ. Writing in obedience to the requests of two of her superiors, the humble 16th century Spanish sister protests “…for the love of God, let me get on with my spinning and go to choir…like the other sisters…I am not meant for writing; I have neither the health nor the wits for it.”
However, in her pre-coffee-house conversational style, Teresa of Avila charmingly proves to her readers that she does have the wits for conveying that “the most essential thing is that we should love God…" as she takes us by
the hand and lead us on a visually beautiful spiritual journey into the soul, that Interior Castle where Christ abides, and where we may abide with Him in holy, intimate communion.
- Interior Castle, which can be purchased...
Interior Castle, which can be purchased from Christian Audio, http://christianaudio.com/, is a book on prayer and the reflections of the soul. The author pictures the soul of a person as a castle with many rooms, which she calls mansions. The book conveys the journey of a person into the various mansions, seven in all. It could be seen as a journey of sanctification. There is a progressiveness of maturity pictured in each of the mansions, of which the last, the seventh, is seen as the central dwelling place of Jesus in the soul.
This book is read most excellently by Susan Deneker. I believe she captured the intent of the author through her skilled reading.
As a Protestant evangelical Christian, I had some theological differences (some of which were serious) with this book, which was written from a Roman Catholic perspective. However, having said that, I would not reject it and would even encourage people to read it. A Scripture came to mind as I was meditating on the things:
Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1Thessalonians 5:20-21
While I had my differences, I found that the good was worth holding on to and very uplifting to my faith.
What was good that I could hold on to? This author had a very biblical view of man as concerns his state of sin and separation from God. It was this view that caused the author to offer a very biblical view of true humility. Both of these themes are heard throughout the book.
It was these two themes that naturally brought the reader to another theme, we are nothing and God is everything. This resulted in much praise and glory to be given to God.
I was much moved by a name that she used often for God – “His Majesty”.
Much more could be said but my favorite moment in listening to this was her encouragement to contemplate, meditate on Jesus and his work on the cross.
I have reviewed this audio book for the christianaudio Reviewers Program, of which I am privileged to be a member.
- Interior Castle gives you a look...
Interior Castle gives you a look into the mind of one of the most famous "Christian" mystics. Teresa of Avila was a nun in Spain during the Counter-Reformation, which should ring bells for those of us on the Protestant side of the Council of Trent. Although Saint Teresa was clearly a woman of deep humility and a profound power over words, she left behind a questionable work that does little to enlighten the Christian mind to the truths of God's Word and instead offers an approach to prayer based firmly on experience and emotion.
If you are interested in Catholic mysticism, church history, classic literature, or extended metaphor, you may find this book very enjoyable. The narrator, Susan Deneker, does well, reminding the listener though action that narration is a performing art. But if you are seeking to learn more about prayer, developing an experiential relationship with God, or understanding how feelings fit with faith, search for another book. I'd suggest Jonathan Edwards' classic The Religious Affections.
- In this book St. Teresa presents...
In this book St. Teresa presents an idea that the human soul is a castle containing many mansions, and that the Holy Spirit lives in the central mansion. As a result, she leads us through the outer mansions one at a time, eventually looking to truly discover God.
I can't make up my mind about this book. Teresa states clearly throughout that the journey is enabled through the gift of prayer, and that the ability to understand that gift is a gift in itself. Her understanding of God's grace is clearly communicated, that we deserve nothing but that God blesses us anyway.
However, the very concept of the book seems to be contradictory. The idea of looking further inside oneself to find God, rather than looking outside of creation, leads the reader to focus on themself rather than on God. She seems to think that the only way to understand God is to go deep into oneself, and I don't think that's spiritually healthy so can't bring myself to recommend it.
The other thing that concerned me was the sheer number of times that Teresa quoted a Bible verse or idea while qualifying that she wasn't sure if she'd quoted it right! This might be just me, but I'd rather she had done some research to make sure she'd got it right, rather than potentially teaching heresy.
Finally, the book was originally written for a very specific audience: nuns. Not being a nun, and actually having very little in common with nuns, quite a bit of effort was needed to apply what was being communicated.
This audio version was read and recorded well - the narrator speaks clearly and communicates well Teresa's style of writing.
So, I'd recommend this book to nuns with good biblical knowledge. If you're a new believer, a non-Christian, or if you don't know the Bible very well, I think this could mislead unintentionally. And if you're not a nun, you might have to work quite hard to apply the lessons.
I got this audiobook for free from christianaudio.com's reviewer programme. I'm not required to give a positive review.
- Show ALL Reviews
- My latest review for christianaudio reviewer's...
My latest review for christianaudio reviewer's program is Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle (which was made possible with a complimentary copy from christianaudio). As many people know, my undergraduate studies focused on religion, particularly hagiographies and texts like St. Teresa's. So I was quite excited to have the opportunity to read (er, listen) to this book. I was familiar with St. Teresa before, but I had not read this book yet.
Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. It was honestly just boring, and I think this was because it was completely devoid of passion and seemingly too controlled. When discussing spiritual formation and connecting with God, a lack of passion is the least useful thing. The presentation of Teresa is that she was abundantly controlled in everything she did, thought, or felt. This is stark contrast to Bernini's sculpture of her in ecstasy.
In the book, St. Teresa did mention the importance of control of emotions and passion. Yet one needs a passion for God to truly connect. This was one of my biggest criticisms of hagiographical texts--they were more focused on control than releasing oneself to God (not that these are always mutually exclusive). I still do not recall St. Teresa mostly focusing on control; I have thought of her being more passionate than many of the saints.
So the text really may have been focused on self-control and was an accurate portrayal of Teresa's intentions. However, the passion also could have been lost in translation. This is an older English translation of Spanish and then read aloud. There's a lot of potential for misinterpretation there. I have to give some credit, though, too, that there may have been passion that I just couldn't hear. Shakespeare sounds very dispassionate and over-controlled, yet his work is anything but that. You just have to be able to listen to it appropriately (which I cannot do :) ). I would like to hear a modern translation and see if that changes anything.
- Interior Castle is a classic work...
Interior Castle is a classic work that reflects the true heart of Christian mysticism. In a conversational style, Teresa of Avila gently, and at times firmly, unveils the intentions of the human heart as it tries to reach God in its own way. She describes the inner life as a castle with seven mansions. Each mansion is more detached from the securities of the outer world and more connected to the heart of God. At each level, Teresa of Avila honors the work of God as mysterious and beyond what we can do for ourselves. The soul’s only response is to yield and submit to Him. Beautifully narrated by Susan Deneker, the author’s tone and wit is easily conveyed, making this rather long book a joy to listen.