Tuesday, May 16, 2017

BY By Carolyn A. Greene
republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
 NEW BOOKLET: Teresa of Avila – An Ancient Mystic Who 
Helped Shape Today’s Spiritual Formation Movement by Carolyn A. 
Greene is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. 
 The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. 
Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are 
designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  
Below is the content of the booklet.  To order copies of Teresa of Avila – 
An Ancient Mystic Who Helped Shape Today’s Spiritual Formation Movement,  
click here. 
Teresa of Avila – An Ancient Mystic Who Helped Shape Today’s Spiritual Formation Movement
By Carolyn A. Greene
Editor’s Note: Today, it is not uncommon for Christian leaders and teachers to recommend the writings of Teresa of Avila. For instance, the late theologian Dallas Willard encouraged his followers to read Teresa’s Interior Castle saying Teresa is “an example to follow.”1 Christian publishers like Bethany House, Thomas Nelson, and Multnomah Press have published books by Teresa of Avila. Rick Warren, author of the highly popular Purpose Driven Life, says her writings are among “great, classic devotional works.”2 Pete Scazzero, author of the popular book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, lists Teresa of Avila’s book, Interior Castle as one of his “top ten books.”3 Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Pathways and Sacred Marriage, favorably references Teresa of Avila numerous times in his book, Thirsting for God. And not surprisingly, contemplative authors such as Richard Foster and Henry Nouwen see her as a fellow mystic.

In 2009, Lighthouse Trails published Castles in the Sand, a story involving a young troubled girl who begins attending a Christian college where she is introduced in her Spiritual Formation class to the writings of an ancient mystic, Teresa of Avila. The following booklet is taken from Castles in the Sand narrating Teresa’s life. While Castles in the Sand is a work of fiction, Teresa of Avila is a real, historical figure (1515-1582). The depiction of her life in this booklet is based on historical records (see bibliography at end of booklet). Quotes and paraphrases of her writings are taken from her actual written works. The lives of other characters portrayed in this booklet are created from composites of true stories.

While some readers may find some of Teresa’s mystical experiences (that at times included involuntary levitating) troubling to read, it is important to understand that the “spiritual ecstasies” Teresa of Avila encountered were the result of her practicing a meditative prayer, much like one that is being practiced by countless Christians today through the Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) movement. We pray this booklet will illustrate how mystical prayer methods are dangerous and introduce the practitioner to occultism and its tormenting “fruit,” something you will not be warned about by those who recommend you study the ancient mystics. And now, the story of Teresa of Avila.
And still they told me my visions were the work of evil spirits! For six years, I was on trial . . . six years! So many prayers and masses said, I grew weary of them all! Yet still the trances and favors have become more violent and frequent . . . oh, I am in distress, such great distress. I am weary, and so tired . . . so very, very tired.—Teresa of Avila
Teresa of Avila was a Carmelite nun who was born in Spain in 1515. As a young girl with an active imagination and great love for books, she was profoundly affected by her mother’s death, which left her emotionally empty. In despair, she threw herself before an image of the Virgin Mary and begged her to be her new mother. This extreme devotion to the Mother Mary soon gave way to an interest in fashion as her beauty blossomed. With it, the passion for reading, writing, and romance was rekindled. Teresa’s concerned father sent her away to boarding school at an Augustinian convent. However, when Teresa fell dreadfully ill with malaria, the nuns sent for her father who came to take her home. Recuperating from the serious illness and suffering from headaches, Teresa read a book given to her from her uncle called The Third Spiritual Alphabet by Francisco de Osuna, from which she learned the practice of the prayer of recollection.* Though previously not interested in reading about such things, her illness had transformed her into a more serious kind of girl. She soon learned to practice “the prayer of quiet,”** a state where the soul is completely absorbed.
Weary of the worldly things that had once given her pleasure, she made secret plans to escape to the Carmelite Monastery without consent from her father and pursue a serious life of prayer, as her uncle had been urging her to do. Teresa later wrote about receiving “favors” that the Lord granted her as she continued to practice her “mental prayer” and the prayer of quiet, two stages of mystical prayer.
“It used to happen, when I represented Christ within me in order to place myself in His presence, or even while reading, that a feeling of the presence of God would come upon me unexpectedly so that I could in no way doubt He was within me or I totally immersed in Him. This did not occur after the manner of a vision. I believe they call the experience ‘mystical theology.’ The soul is suspended in such a way that it seems to be completely outside itself. The will loves; the memory, it seems to me, is almost lost. For, as I say, the intellect does not work, but it is as though amazed by all it understands because God desires that it understands, with regard to the things His majesty represents to it, that it understands nothing.”
The practice of the prayer of quiet continued to bring Teresa into what she called the state of union, the place where intellect and will cease to function over which she soon had no control. As the years passed, Teresa’s headaches and visions began to take their toll. She was counseled by the Jesuit Fathers to give up her “interior” prayer, but that didn’t help.

One day, she cried out, “Oh these visions! What tortures I have endured . . . how can I bear it?” she wailed. “I even gave up mental prayer. I . . . I gave it up. I did! First I waited to be free of sin, but they found no fault in me. Not a fault! Yet I was visited again, more visions . . . more revelations . . . to this most miserable sinner as I.”

Behind her, she could hear the group of nuns that stopped a short distance away, pausing for a moment before turning and walking in the other direction.

To continue reading and for endnotes and bibliography, click here.
St. Teresa of Avila's "Ecstasy in Contemplation"

Published on Oct 14, 2015
St. Teresa was born in Avila, Spain in 1515. She is known as the patroness of the religious and the sick.

As a child, Teresa was obsessed with the martyrs and saints. One day, when she was seven, she convinced her brother to become a martyr . Her plan was to go to the Moors and ask to be decapitated! They were just outside the town walls when their uncle found and stopped them.

When she was 14-years-old, Teresa's mother passed away, so she turned to the Virgin Mary as a spiritual mother.

Though she was devoted to her faith, the saints and the Virgin Mother, she was also interested in reading fiction and her father worried this was making her vain. To help Teresa remain holy, he sent her to the Augustinian nuns at Avila.

At the monastery, Teresa became extremely ill and experienced moments of religious ecstasy during her devotionals.

Teresa also practiced self-mortification, a common practice during that time. It was during one such occasion she received her first vision of Jesus. She continued to have visions for the next two years, which drove her to convert Spanish Jews to Christianity, to found convents, and to spend five years in prayerful seclusion.

Teresa eventually founded a religious order; the Discalced Carmelites. Many Carmelite religious live cloistered of poverty and prayerful contemplation even today.

As St. Teresa approached the end of her life, she expressed happiness that her hour has arrived. “My Lord, it is time to move on. Well then, may your will be done. O my Lord and my Spouse, the hour that I have longed for has come. It is time to meet one another."

St. Teresa was beatified at April 24, 1614 and canonized on March 12, 1622.

Following her death, her body was exhumed several times, each time smelling sweet, feeling firm, and was unspoiled. Several relics of her body are currently on display at various holy sites around the world.

Her feast day is October 15.
Biography of Saint Teresa of Avila
 Published on Feb 16, 2015
A short biography of Saint Teresa of Avila. Some basic facts about Teresa de Avila:

- Born on 28 March 1515 in Gotarrendura, Ávila, Crown of Castile (today Spain)
- Died on 4 October 1582 (aged 67) in Alba de Tormes, Salamanca, Spain
- Venerated in: Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Church and Anglican Communion
- Beatified on: 24 April 1614, Rome by Pope Paul V
- Canonized 12 March 1622, Rome by Pope Gregory XV
- Major shrine Convent of the Annunciation, Alba de Tormes, Spain
- Feast celebrated on 15 October
- Attributes: Habit of the Discalced Carmelites, Book and Quill, arrow-pierced heart
- Patronage: Bodily ills; headaches; chess; lacemakers; laceworkers; loss of parents; people in need of grace; people in religious orders; people ridiculed for their piety; Požega, Croatia; sick people; sickness; Spain.