The Letters of St. Teresaby St. Teresa, John Dalton
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John Dalton has rendered an invaluable service to English Catholics by his admirable translation of these works; they form, with the life of the saint, which the Oratorians have already published, a body of mystical theology, which the Church has termed divine, and of practical instruction which must be valuable to Christians of every class.
It is not for us to dilate on the importance of that teaching so highly sanctioned, and so universally recognized; but we must suggest to those who fear to be led too deeply into the realms of mysticism, that it is the perfect masters of a science who most safely and speedily initiate the learner even from the commencement.
Religion is no exception to this rule, and St. Teresa, from the height to which she had attained, had the clearest insight into the state of souls, with a perfect method of directing them; and the perceptions of her own inspired mind are conveyed with so much beauty, power, and tenderness, that they cannot but act strongly upon the hearts of her disciples. Thus much we must say for the spiritual uses of these books.
Also, it is not irrelevant to mention the great entertainment that may be derived from them. In the Book of the Foundations, the saint relates in her charming manner, and with the most graphic simplicity, the foundation of seventeen houses of her order, with the many curious and supernatural circumstances by which they were attended. She left this work to her spiritual children, who were hereafter to inhabit these houses, and for their sake she enriched it with beautiful anecdotes, and interesting particulars of their first inhabitants. St. Teresa's letters are highly spiritual, but they are diversified both by the characters of those to whom she wrote, and her own mood of mind; and their earnestness and sound sense irresistibly compel attention. We have already spoken of the " Life," in which the saint, telling her own story, would seem to lay open her whole heart to the reader. Of the " Interior Castle," it is obvious that we cannot speak properly in such a notice as this; but we consider that we have done enough when we have drawn the attention of the Catholic public to the fact of these intellectual and spiritual treasures being now (for the first time) universally accessible.
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