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Posted June 19, 2010
As a life-long Protestant, I don't exactly comprehend the concept of Catholic saints. I understand how they are used, but I was taught that all believers are saints. Even so, I've often been interested in the amazing life stories of these colorful historical figures, but have never read about them because I didn't know where to start and how to separate mythology from religion. If any other author had written a quasi-biography/spiritual study of St. Teresa of Avila, I wouldn't have given it a second look, but when it was Claudia Mair Burney writing it, I knew that this was a book I had to read. Mair, as her friends call her, is a true prayer warrior and has written some of the most powerful books I've ever read; books that made me look at Catholicism is a completely new way. Zora & Nicky and Wounded both left me aching for days. Not only is her writing superb, but the faith in her books breaks my heart. I want to know Jesus and love him like Mair does. God Alone is Enough: A Spirited Journey with St. Teresa of Avila seemed like an opportunity to see inside her faith.
Shortly before receiving the book, the Lord opened my heart and eyes to a new depth of prayer with him, so my heart was already primed to learn about contemplative prayer and the inner rooms of my heart. I expected to learn about an interesting saint and to understand a bit more about Mair's faith. I didn't expect to have my entire prayer life renewed.
Teresa seems like a lively and intelligent woman who was constantly analyzing her prayer life in order to encourage others to the heights she had seen with God. She uses simple metaphors like gardens and water fountains to bring enlightenment to readers. All of this is told through Mair's wry and always loving writing. The fifth chapter taught me so much! I often feel guilty if I'm too exhausted or in pain at the end of the day to engage in deep prayer with the Lord, but Mair reminded me that God is completely aware of my troubles, and if I'm just too wiped out on occasion, he understands and won't punish me for it. It was also in the fifth chapter that I experienced once of the deepest most moving prayer times I've ever had in my entire life. Mair lists Teresa's steps to prayer including privacy, begging, and keeping Jesus always in mind. The one step that jumped my prayer life to the next level however, was imagining Jesus right with me as I pray. I know that Jesus is always with me, and when I pray, I am most certainly praying to him, but I have never before imagined him as sitting at the end of my bed, holding my hands, and listening to my prayer with a smile across his beautiful face. Mair then instructed me to say the Lord's Prayer out loud while following those instructions. I could barely squeak the words out, and the tears ran like rain down my face. I've said the Lord's Prayer hundreds, if not thousands, of times in my life, but never before have I truly experienced the Presence of God with me while saying those old words.
There is so much wisdom and beauty in this book, even though I am done reading it, I will never be truly finished reading it. It's going on the short list of books that I reread on a yearly basis. This is a book that will truly shake up your prayer life and give a new appreciation for St. Teresa who lived over 500 years ago.