A seminal work of Spanish mysticism, Teresa of Avila's The Way of Perfection describes the practices and qualities of a prayerful life devoted to Christ. Although it was written over 500 years ago solely for the nuns of her convent, her devotion continues to instruct and inspire believers today.
- Strong woman, weak voice
Disappointing read. St. Theresa was a mature woman, full of conviction. The reader's voice is young-sounding along with some mispronunciations, i.e. satiety. Disconcerting.
- I had heard much about St....
I had heard much about St. Teresa from various circles, bibliographic references, and personal excursions into the practice of various 'spiritual disciplines,' however this was my first reading (listening, rather) experience. St. Teresa's classic work is a shot across the bow to our contemporary culture of noise, activity, and words expressed and plastered over everything imaginable. It is hard to imagine the disciplined St. Teresa not suffering a coronary upon witnessing our culture (whether Christian or secular) today.
St. Teresa's passion for encountering Jesus in prayer is simultaneously humbling and inspiring. Her ability to engage her Lord in such an intimate way puts to shame every fiber of my spiritually "disciplined" life. I have much to learn, and a long ways to go before I attain anything nearing St. Teresa's relationship with Jesus.
That said, this book is directed not to the lay reader or lay Christian, but to the nuns apprenticing her in St. Teresa's convent. Thus, some of the language is quite inaccessible to those not conversant with or contemporary to St. Teresa herself. Various tangents pertaining to issues surrounding St. Teresa in her day leave the work with a distracted, rather than cohesive feel.
Tavia Gilbert's narration, however, allowed one to approach St. Teresa's work in a marvelous way. As the book is written in the first person singular, with St. Teresa "speaking" to her nuns, Gilbert's personal inflection of tone and injection of feeling and emotion really bring the text alive. Few voices could resurrect a 500 year old mystical text in the way Gilbert has done, providing "audio onramps" those of us without predispositions toward 16th century Spanish mysticism.
Ultimately, I would recommend this to anyone seeking:
a) A radical challenge to the busyness of 21st century life.
b) A deeper, but certainly necessarily easier, journey down the road of practicing spiritual disciplines.
c) Growth in the areas of prayer, contemplation, and intimacy with Jesus.
d) To engage themselves in the classic texts that have shaped the face and practice of Christianity throughout history.