Teresa of Avila Turns 500 is a blog devoted to learning spiritual wisdom from Teresa of Avila and her book The Interior Castle. Teresa was a 16th century Carmelite nun. She was a church reformer and founder of the Order of the Carmelites Discalced (OCD). In 1970 Pope Paul VI designated Teresa as a Doctor of the Church; fewer than forty people have received this designation.
I chose to write about the Interior Castle for three reasons:
- The quality of Teresa’s insights on spiritual formation.
- The value of learning from “great books”. The Interior Castle is part of Notre Dame’s Great Books seminars. Eugene Peterson, author of the Message Bible, lists it as one the “basics” of spiritual reading in his book Take and Read. It’s also included in 25 Every Christian Should Read (Renovare).
- Timeliness: March 28, 2015 marked the 500th Birthday of Teresa of Avila.
I began this blog on March 28, 2013 (Teresa’s 498th birthday). My goal is to apply Teresa’s writing and wisdom to modern spiritual life. This occasionally means passing over material with limited relevance to most readers. At times, I may also take “seed thoughts” to places Teresa could not have intended in order to explore how her core ideas may have application 500 years later. While I occasionally explain the theology or context behind particular sections, this blog is not intended to be a commentary, a theological study, or scholarly work.
I’m learning from and about Teresa along the way and writing as I go. I also face a number of challenges to fully grasping her writing including:
- Teresa lived in a convent in the 1500’s. I live in a modern context: I’m married with children and grandchildren and work outside of the church.
- I’m guessing most people, as do I, find the Interior Castle to be a difficult book. Dallas Willard, the late professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Philosophy said, The Interior Castle “is not a model of easy reading . . . and must be approached as if you are mining for treasure–which you are.”
- I’m not Catholic — so I’m missing some religious context assumed by Teresa.
Despite these challenges, I think you will find these blog posts provide a practical approach to spiritual formation and a good bridge to Teresa’s teaching.
Suggested Blog Posts:
- A Tour of the Interior Castle
- Prayer, Poetry, and Sex
- Spiritual Addiction
- Dallas Willard and Teresa of Avila
If you decide to purchase a copy of the Interior Castle, I recommend: The Interior Castle Study Edition by Kieran Kavanaugh O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez O.C.D.