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The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 5, 1988
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Written at the command of her confessors, the books of this 16th century Spanish saint and mystic (a beloved friend to another great Spanish mystic, John of the Cross), St. Teresa's writings remain classics of Christian mysticism. Less abstract and theoretical than her friend, Teresa's works are no less noteworthy for the brilliance of their ability to convey with both warmth and rigor some flavor of this most extraordinary experience: union with God. Her autobiography may well be the best entry point into her work and into the great mystical literature of the Christian church. Here she describes her early life and education, the conflicts and crisis she underwent, culminating in her determination to enter fully into the path of prayer. Following a description of the contemplative life, which she explores in four stages, she returns to her own life in order to describe (in erotic language reminiscent of the Song of Songs) the ecstatic experiences given to her by God.
If the idea of mysticism seems hopelessly otherworldly to you, try a taste of St. Teresa, who can be as down to earth as Oprah--and sometimes just as amusing. --Doug Thorpe
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish
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This book was my introduction to her writings. I struggled deeply for the first 1/3 of the book, but the rest of it was so phenomenal that I couldn't wait to get back to it. By the time I was done, there were tears of joy and all I could say in my notes was "wow". It is the story of her life, interspersed with topics of prayer. It is not, however, focused on meditation or prayer. It is mainly what the title says: Her life - which is terrific and interesting in and of itself. If you are looking for mediation and prayer check her "Interior Castle" (awesome book!), or for great reflections try Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, or Introduction to the Devout Life by St Francis de Sales. All great works for the mystically/experientially inclined.