Saint Teresa of Avila and Her Mysticism

Saint Teresa of Avila imageToday is the Memorial of Teresa of Avila, one of the Church’s best known mystics and also a doctor of the Church. Her concepts, along with her companion St. John of the Cross, helped draw me to Catholicism. I just couldn’t find this type of spirituality in my evangelical upbringing.Teresa developed her Christian mysticism around four stages of prayer and meditation. They are useful guides for any Catholic or Christian that wants to enter more deeply in prayer. They are

– “Mental Prayer” – devout prayer or concentration, particularly on some aspect of Christ’s passion. “Prayer of Quiet” – This is when the will is lost in God. Other human faculties are still distracted, but through God’s grace, the will is focused on God.”Devotion of Union” – A supernatural and ecstatic state, where one’s reason is totally absorbed in God. “Devotion of Ecstasy” – Consciousness of being in the body disappears, and one is totally in union with God. This is a blissful state.

Teresa’s concept of prayer and union with God is interesting, as it emphasizes the mental component of prayer. Scientific studies seem to suggest that in deep meditation and contemplation, we lose our sense of individuality and feel a connection with God and everything else. Teresa also conceived of contemplation and prayer as a sharing in the life of another, in this case God. We connect with God the same way we connect with another person, by giving God our mental attention. For more information, check out two of her books, Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection.

Saint Teresa, ora pro nobis.

About David Bennett

David Bennett is an author, speaker, and small business owner. He started ChurchYear.Net in 2004, along with his brother Jonathan. The site gets over one million visitors a year, and Bennett's writings have appeared in church bulletins, newspapers, and other media.

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