In this famous spiritual classic the great St. Teresa of Avila comes down from the heights of contemplation that she described in her Autobiography. In The Way of Perfection, she starts at the beginning in the matter of prayer, teaching a simple form of mental prayer by which one may progress far in a short time.
In the first half of the book, St. Teresa gives many fascinating insights into the spiritual life regarding relatives, confessors, health, the snares of Satan, supernatural vs. natural love, and other subjects-especially as lived in a convent. In the second half, she teaches how to begin a life of prayer. She explains what contemplation is and how it differs from ordinary mental prayer and from vocal prayer.
In the process, she analyzes the Pater Noster or "Our Father" phrase by phrase, showing its hidden meanings and explaining how to transform our vocal prayer into mental prayer. St Teresa assures us that those who practice this simple mental prayer may well hope that God will grant them the "prayer of quiet," which is the beginning of contemplation and of God's heavenly "Kingdom" enjoyed even on this earth.
The Way of Perfection shows St. Teresa's wonderful combination of common sense, strong Catholic faith and amazing spiritual energy and penetration. In this book, she shares her own ardent spirit, encouraging us in our efforts to serve God and assuring us that these efforts will be rewarded far beyond what we might ever deserve or can possibly imagine.
Teresa of Avila
St Teresa of Jesus was born in 1515 in Avila, Spain and entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation in 1535, against the wishes of her father. During a serious illness, she practiced mental prayer and started receiving intellectual visions and locutions from Our Lord which continued for the rest of her life. Together with St John of the Cross, she began a reform movement which stressed a return to a traditional rule of poverty and simplicity for Carmelites. St Teresa died on 4 October 1582 in Alba de Torres. She was canonised along with St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier, and St Phillip Neri in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.