Thoughts On Theresa Of Avila: Interior Castle

Interior Castle is a random book, by a passionate female mystic, scattered in its thoughts like the Shepherd Of Hermas, but directed by a pastoral guide.

The question is, is this healthy spirituality. She is one of the strongest voices of prayer experience, but the jury is out as to whether its healthy – especially with all the fasting and self-mortification.

Carmelites founded in the 1200’s during the Crusader time. Hermits gathered on Mt. Carmel to seek the Lord there (overlooks Meggido, or ‘har Meggido, or Armageddon – a place of over 27 battles).

They didn’t want to be one of the other orders. They proposed an order to the Latin Bishop of Jerusalem, Albert. Called it the Rule of St. Albert. As centuries went on, were considered like Franciscans or Dominicans, the Carmelites.

Theresa is Judaeo-converso – a Jewish family that has elected to become Christian, after Isabella and Ferdinand expelled the Jews from Spain. Inquisition was seeking to test the faith of the Judaeo-converso’s. Theresa enter the Carmelite monastery to join a friend. At the age of 7 they wanted to run away to Africa and be martyred.

Jesus begins speaking to her at 17, and she begins one of the most ecstatic and vibrant prayer experiences we have record of. The Carmelites become too luxurious, even, so calced or discalced (shoe-less) Carmelitism. Seeking purity and love with poverty, to call the tradition back. In her convent of 170 girls, poorer classes lived in dorms, more luxurious backgrounds live in suites. She wanted to make it all equal. So she plants new convents.

Jesus said to her “I have so few friends,” and she said, “have you ever thought about how your treat them. She never advocated a method of prayer, but advocated the human Jesus.

“Prayer doesn’t consist of thinking a great deal, but of loving a great deal. Therefore, do whatever arouses love.” (in 4th mansions)

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) met her in 1557. He became her spiritual director. He was noted as one of Spain’s most famous poets.

St. John of the Cross was put in solitary confinement in the monastic prison at Toledo because he got involved in a crossfire between Calced and Discalced Carmelites. He was very involved with her in her reforming work.

He wrote The Dark Night Of The Soul, and Ascent Of Carmel.

Kataphatic and Apophatic prayer – Kata is praying with an image, etc. with something. Apo is praying the prayer of silence. The real is beyond words. No creature or idea or vision or dogma or experience can ever be confused with God, but are simply mean to lead us.

The Cloud of Unknowing (Apophatic), 14th c. english writer (unknown).

St. John Of the Cross – His View Of Spiritual Formation
1. The Purgative Way (the start)
2. The Illuminative Way (as we start to grow)
3. The Unitive Way (maturity)

Continually aware of the Trinity within, while remaining attentive to creation around.

She wants heaven, but wants to stay to serve. Like Bernard, you want yourself, used as a tool in your hands.

The Dark Night Of the Soul refers to the transition phase between the stages. Intuitively we know the pain of this. For him, it is a growth time, from one stage to a higher stage, like a womb. For Theresa, its the butterfly, let the silk worm die.

The Dark Night Of the Soul is that we would arrive at habitual experience of union.

In the final stage, the ecstasies and raptures are not so overwhelming anymore, and neither are the storms of life.

Spiritual Traditions for the Contemporary Church, Maas and O’Donnell, Abingdon Press.

We want more of God’s anointing than we have the character to bear.

Theresan spiritual legacy moves into parisian lay Carmelite who works in a kitchen, called brother Lawrence – he practices the presence of God.

Theresa and John have to come to a change, no longer so in love with mental prayer (Lectio), but an appreciation of the companionship of Jesus. The presence of Jesus with us always, the human Jesus, is the object of prayer. Very content not to talk. Just at peace, and moving along.

The next person that comes in the tradition is Therese de Liseux, in Normandy, dies in 1896, at 26, is the hero of this in the 19th/20th century. Big influence on the Vineyard. God loves you the way that you are, by doing tiny little things is to strew roses all over the throneroom of heaven.

“Little things done with great love, will change the world.” Mother Theresa got this from her namesake, not the “great Theresa (Avila)” but the little Theresa, de Lisieux. The Story Of A Soul is a book on her life.

It was Therese’s genius to rediscover for modern men and women a central biblical theme, that in the end we approach God with empty hands, not discouraged, but by boundless.

We are being taught by these writers how to pray without ceasing.

The Way Of The Pilgrim

“Recollection” is the affective re-orienting of ourselves to God; emotive rather than logical.

In affective forms of prayer, the mind is quieted.

Brother Lawrence:

1. Renounce the love of anything that is not God
2. Practice his presence with soul’s gaze
3. Begin everything by an inward lifting of the heart to God.
4. Persevere

Gallilee, or Kinnereth, means “heart.”