By Fr. Alexander Ezechukwu, OCD
St. Teresa’s Way of Perfection
One of the most popular books on prayer was written by the great mystic and reformer, St. Teresa of Avila, called The Way of Perfection.
The title sounds intimidating. But don’t judge the book until you’ve opened the cover.
This work is by the woman who, along with Fray Jerome Gracian and St. John of the Cross, reformed the Carmelite order and gave the world an approach to union with God that has few rivals in the literature of spirituality.
But its title might make you think. How is it possible for me to be perfect? What great austerities or arduous practices would St. Teresa require of her readers? Will it contain a mountain of theological terms that I won’t understand?
But once you peruse its pages, you will find it an easygoing and conversational journey.
For example, here’s what she says about prayer,
“No matter how quietly we speak he is so near that he will hear us. We do not need wings to search for Him. We only need to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us. We don't need to feel strange in the presence of such a kind Guest.”
- Way of Perfection, Chap. 28
Finding God Within Yourself
In this quote, St. Teresa was following along the thought of St. Augustine, for whom she had a great admiration. “Recall that St. Augustine tells us about his seeking God in many places and eventually finding Him within himself.”
So, prayer and contemplation is not complicated. Of course it is involved, since St. Teresa advises us that one must form a habit of prayer and develop a relationship with God. But keep in mind her understanding of prayer as “a loving conversation between friends.”
The Neighbor Next Door
As a Carmelite friar and priest, I am much drawn to Teresa in spirit, since she uses colloquial language and everyday imagery to describe our relationship with God and her mystical experiences with Him.
She is also self-deprecating, admitting that she is not worthy of explaining such lofty theological concepts. When I read the book, I feel as if I am sitting across from this saint, and that she could be the neighbor next door.
A Contemplative Calling – the Carmelite Friars
Would you like to know more about our Carmelite charism – how all these concepts fit together to form our lives as Discalced Carmelite friars?
If you a single man who has an attraction to Carmelite spirituality, you might have a God-given calling to become a Discalced Carmelite friar.
Ask yourself: Is God calling you to become a witness for him by living as a consecrated Discalced Carmelite brother or priest?
If you’re a single Catholic man age 18 to 35, have you thought about becoming a religious friar? Maybe God is calling you to a Carmelite vocation in our Anglo-Irish Province in the UK!
Contact me, Fr. Alex, Carmelite Encounter Director, at +44 (0)7477 673932, email@example.com
Check Out the Discalced Carmelites:
Why not test your call to the Carmelite Friars of the Anglo-Irish Province?
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