Saturday, January 9, 2016

The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book by Virginia Hampton Wright

St Teresa of Avila is a doctor of the Catholic church now but I learned she was controversial in her day. Her contemplative connection with God was looked on with skepticism in her day. The author seems to know St Teresa like a family member. You can tell she did her research. The first part of the book is biographical but fun, not dry. St Teresa's prayers in her own words are beautiful. The most distinguishing feature of this book is the alignment of St  Teresa's prayers with a liturgy of the hours type format with morning and evening prayers.
St. Teresa had a hard time with formatted prayer and sought a more personal relationship with God. She felt herself drawn to God's presence without even trying. She naturally tended to contemplative prayer but she also studied about it in the book by Francisco of Osuna called the Third Spiritual Alphabet. Her marked up and worn copy is still available to view today. One of her students became known as St. John of the Cross.
I love the description of prayer straight from St. Teresa, "She described prayer as different ways of watering a garden. Sometimes we must draw water up from the well, which requires much effort on our part, and other times we simply direct the water to where it needs to go; and then sometimes the water arrives as rainfall and we don’t have to do anything but enjoy it."
Virginia Wright helps us to see and pray with St. Teresa stating, "Ultimately, what St. Teresa of Avila brings to us is confidence in God’s great mercy toward us and God’s willingness to meet us in our flawed humanity and dwell with us right here and now."
I would recommend this book to you to understand St. Teresa of Avila better and deepen your prayer life. The author makes St. Teresa approachable, understandable and a prayer partner which is definitely a plus. I like that there are themes and structure provided for prayer and inspiration from St. Teresa of Avila.

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