Autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila

Overview


In this landmark of Christian mysticism, the revered Carmelite nun presents moving accounts of her profound religious experiences and ultimate union with God. St. Teresa wrote this memoir at the behest of her confessor. It offers a warm, accessible account of her transformation into an impassioned leader and reformer of church doctrine.
St. Teresa recounts her childhood and education in sixteenth-century Spain, her physical afflictions and spiritual crises, her many ...
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Overview


In this landmark of Christian mysticism, the revered Carmelite nun presents moving accounts of her profound religious experiences and ultimate union with God. St. Teresa wrote this memoir at the behest of her confessor. It offers a warm, accessible account of her transformation into an impassioned leader and reformer of church doctrine.
St. Teresa recounts her childhood and education in sixteenth-century Spain, her physical afflictions and spiritual crises, her many visions and mystical encounters, and her determination to embrace the contemplative life. In describing the ascent of the soul, she explains the core of her theology as a four-stage process that progresses from mental prayer to divine rapture. Next to Don Quixote, this timeless work constitutes Spain's most popular prose classic. It forms an excellent introduction to the saint's other writings and to the Christian tradition of mystical literature.  
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486475981
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 7/21/2010
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 270,491
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Translator's Preface xiii

Principal Abbreviations xxv

An Outline of the Life of St. Teresa xxvii

General Introduction to the Works of St. Teresa xxxvii

The Life of the Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus

Introduction 1

Chapter I Describes how the Lord began to awaken her soul in childhood to a love of virtue and what a help it is in this respect to have good parents 10

Chapter II Describes how these virtues were gradually lost and how important it is in childhood to associate with people of virtue 12

Chapter III Describes how good companionship helped to awaken desires in her and the way in which the Lord began to give her light concerning the delusion under which she had been suffering 17

Chapter IV Describes how the Lord helped her to force herself to take the habit and tells of the numerous infirmities which His Majesty began to send her 20

Chapter V Continues to tell of the grievous infirmities which she suffered and of the patience given her by the Lord, and of how He brings good out of evil, as will be seen from an incident which happened to her in the place where she went for treatment 26

Chapter VI Describes all that she owed to the Lord for granting her resignation in such great trials; and how she took the glorious Saint Joseph for her mediator and advocate; and the great profit that this brought her. 32

Chapter VII Describes how she began to lose the favours which the Lord had granted her and how evil her life became. Treats of the harm that comes to convents from laxity in the observance of the rule of enclosure 37

Chapter VIII Treats of the great benefit which she derived from not entirely giving up prayer lest she should ruin her soul. Describes the excellence of prayer as a help towards regaining what one has lost. Urges all to practise it. Says what great gain it brings and how great a benefit it is, even for those who may later give it up, to spend some time on a thing which is so good 48

Chapter IX Describes the means by which the Lord began to awaken her soul and to give her light amid such great darkness, and to strengthen the virtues in her so that she should not offend Him 54

Chapter X Begins to describe the favours which the Lord granted her in prayer. Explains what part we ourselves can play here, and how important it is that we should understand the favours which the Lord is granting us. Asks those to whom she is sending this that the remainder of what she writes may be kept secret, since she has been commanded to describe in great detail the favours granted her by the Lord 57

Chapter XI Gives the reason why we do not learn to love God perfectly in a short time. Begins, by means of a comparison, to describe four degrees of prayer, concerning the first of which something is here said. This is most profitable for beginners and for those who are receiving no consolations in prayer 62

Chapter XII Continues to describe this first state. Tells how far, with the help of God, we can advance by ourselves and describes the harm that ensues when the spirit attempts to aspire to unusual and supernatural experiences before they are bestowed upon it by the Lord 70

Chapter XIII Continues to describe this first state and gives counsels for dealing with certain temptations which the devil is sometimes wont to prepare. This chapter is very profitable 74

Chapter XIV Begins to describe the second degree of prayer, in which the Lord grants the soul experience of more special consolations. This description is made in order to explain the supernatural character of these consolations. It should be most carefully noted 83

Chapter XV Continues speaking of the same subject and gives certain counsels as to how the soul must behave in this Prayer of Quiet. Tells how there are many souls who attain to this prayer and few who pass beyond it. The things touched herein are very necessary and profitable 88

Chapter XVI Treats of the third degree of prayer and continues to expound very lofty matters, describing what the soul that reaches this state is able to do and the effects produced by these great favours of the Lord. This chapter is well calculated to uplift the spirit in praises to God and to provide great consolation for those who reach this state 96

Chapter XVII Continues the same subject, the exposition of this third degree of prayer. Concludes her exposition of the effects produced by it. Describes the hindrances caused in this state by the imagination and the memory 100

Chapter XVIII Treats of the fourth degree of prayer. Begins to describe in an excellent way the great dignity conferred by the Lord upon the soul in this state. This chapter is meant for the great encouragement of those who practise prayer to the end that they may strive to reach this lofty state, which it is possible to attain on earth, though not through our merits but by the Lord's goodness. Let it be read with attention, for its exposition is most subtle and it contains most noteworthy things 105

Chapter XIX Continues the same subject. Begins to describe the effects produced in the soul by this degree of prayer. Exhorts souls earnestly not to turn back, even if after receiving this favour they should fall, and not to give up prayer. Describes the harm that will ensue if they do not follow this counsel. This chapter is to be read very carefully and will be of great comfort to the weak and to sinners 111

Chapter XX Treats of the difference between union and rapture. Describes the nature of rapture and says something of the blessing that comes to the soul which the Lord, of His goodness, brings to it. Describes the effects which it produces. This chapter is particularly admirable 119

Chapter XXI Continues and ends the account of this last degree of prayer. Describes the feelings of the soul in this state on its return to life in the world and the light which the Lord sheds for it on the world's delusions. Contains good doctrine|p130

Chapter XXII Describes how safe a practice it is for contemplatives not to uplift their spirits to lofty things if they are not so uplifted by the Lord, and how the path leading to the most exalted contemplation must be the Humanity of Christ. Tells of an occasion on which she was herself deceived. This chapter is very profitable 136

Chapter XXIII Resumes the description of the course of her life and tells how and by what means she began to aim at greater perfection. It is of advantage for persons who are concerned in the direction of souls that practise prayer to know how they must conduct themselves in the early stages. The profit that she herself gained thereby 145

Chapter XXIV Continues the subject already begun. Describes how her soul profited more and more after she began to obey, how little it availed her to resist the favours of God and how His Majesty went on giving them to her in increasing measure 152

Chapter XXV Discusses the method and manner in which these locutions bestowed by God on the soul are apprehended without being heard and also certain kinds of deception which may occur here and the way to recognize them. This chapter is most profitable for anyone who finds himself at this stage of prayer because the exposition is very good and contains much teaching 156

Chapter XXVI Continues the same subject. Goes on with the description and explanation of things which befell her and which rid her of her fears and assured her that it was the good spirit that was speaking to her 166

Chapter XXVII Treats of another way in which the Lord teaches the soul and in an admirable manner makes His will plain to it without the use of words. Describes a vision and a great favour, not imaginary, granted her by the Lord. This chapter should be carefully noted 169

Chapter XXVIII Treats of the great favours which the Lord bestowed upon her, and of His first appearance to her. Describes the nature of an imaginary vision. Enumerates the important effects and signs which this produces when it proceeds from God. This chapter is very profitable and should be carefully noted 178

Chapter XXIX Continues the subject already begun and describes certain great favours which the Lord showed her and the things which His Majesty said to her to reassure her and give her answers for those who opposed her 187

Chapter XXX Takes up the course of her life again and tells how the Lord granted her great relief from her trials by bringing her a visit from the holy man, Fray Peter of Alcántara, of the Order of the glorious Saint Francis. Discusses the severe temptations and interior trials which she sometimes suffered 194

Chapter XXXI Treats of certain outward temptations and representations made to her by the devil and of tortures which he caused her. Discusses likewise several matters which are extremely useful for people to know if they are walking on the road to perfection 204

Chapter XXXII Tells how the Lord was pleased to carry her in spirit to a place in hell which she had merited for her sins. Describes a part of what was shown her there. Begins to tell of the way and means whereby the convent of Saint Joseph was founded in the place where it now is 215

Chapter XXXIII Proceeds with the same subject-the foundation of the convent of the glorious Saint Joseph. Tells how she was commanded not to continue it, how for a time she gave it up, how she suffered various trials and how in all of them she was comforted by the Lord 223

Chapter XXXIV Describes how about this time she had to leave the place, for a reason which is given, and how her superior ordered her to go and comfort a great lady who was in sore distress. Begins the description of what happened to her there, of how the Lord granted her the great favour of being the means whereby His Majesty aroused a great person to serve Him in real earnest and of how later she obtained help and protection from Him. This chapter should be carefully noted 232

Chapter XXXV Continues the same subject-the foundation of this house of our glorious Father Saint Joseph. Tells how the Lord brought it about that holy poverty should be observed there and why she left that lady, and describes several other things that happened to her 241

Chapter XXXVI Continues the subject already begun and describes the completion of the foundation of this convent of the glorious Saint Joseph, and the great opposition and numerous persecutions which the nuns had to endure after taking the habit, and the great trials and temptations which she suffered, and how the Lord delivered her from everything victoriously, to His glory and praise 248

Chapter XXXVII Describes the effects produced upon her after the Lord had granted her any favour. Adds much sound teaching. Says how we must strive in order to attain one degree more of glory and esteem it highly and how for no trial must we renounce blessings which are everlasting 261

Chapter XXXVIII Describes certain great favours which the Lord bestowed upon her, both in showing her certain heavenly secrets and in granting her other great visions and revelations which His Majesty was pleased that she should experience. Speaks of the effects which these produced upon her and of the great profit which they brought to her soul 267

Chapter XXXIX Continues the same subject and tells of the great favours which the Lord has shown her. Describes His promises to her on behalf of persons for whom she might pray to Him. Tells of some outstanding respects in which His Majesty has granted her this favour 279

Chapter XL Continues the same subject and tells of the great favours which the Lord has granted her. From some of these may be obtained most excellent teaching, and, next to obedience, her principal motive in writing has been, as she has said, to convey this instruction and to describe such favours as are for the profit of souls. With this chapter the narrative of her life which she has written comes to an end. May it be to the glory of the Lord. Amen 290

Letter written by the Saint to Father Garcia de Toledo when sending him her Life 299

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