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The Interior Castle (1588)

by St. Teresa of Avila

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,497264,848 (4.03)24
'While I was beseeching Our Lord to-day that He would speak through me, since I could find nothing to say and had no idea how to begin to carry out the obligation laid upon me by obedience, a thought occurred to me which I will now set down, in order to have some foundation on which to build. I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions.' Thus begins Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, one of the most celebrated books ever written by a mystic on abiding in union with Christ. Writing in obedience to the requests of two of her superiors, the humble 16th century Spanish sister protests 'for the love of God, let me get on with my spinning and go to choir...like the other sisters...I am not meant for writing; I have neither the health nor the wits for it.' However, in her pre-coffee-house conversational style, Teresa of Avila charmingly proves to her listeners that she does have the wits for conveying that 'the most essential thing is that we should love God,' as she takes us by the hand and lead us on a visually beautiful spiritual journey into the soul, that Interior Castle where Christ abides, and where we may abide with Him in holy, intimate communion.… (more)
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» See also 24 mentions

English (18)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (3)  French (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Beautiful book. Must read ( )
  MaryyZahra | Mar 9, 2022 |
This is my Lenten reading pick for 2017, the first time I've chosen an audiobook for edifying reading. I thought I was going to like this one somewhat more, and maybe I would have as a person still in school, but I found that the description of the inward spiritual journey as a trip through a Renaissance castle with many mansions to be hard for me to identify with. I knew, intellectually, that she was composing her work for her fellow cloistered religious, who quite possibly would be receiving it aurally as well, and was prepared to make allowance for the difference in our life pursuits. It never really managed to draw me in fully though, which is a pity. It did not fill me with a conviction that the most interior of the mansions in the depths of contemplation with God was the place I myself wanted to go more than anything, but assumed that I as the reader might already be of that mind on my own. Right now I am going through a period where I am focused on the outside world and its concerns somewhat more than I really like, so part of it could be a matter of timing. I wouldn't mind re-reading the work in a dozen years maybe to see if it comes off differently to me then.
I would say that I did enjoy Teresa's writing style, which is so far from high-faluting and indeed tends to be even self-deprecating that I bookmarked a couple of charming passages of hers. There are some unusual images she includes which I really enjoyed for their extraordinary flights of fancy. It's not enough to make me raise my rating to four stars, unfortunately, but at least it made the book pleasant to experience.
I'm not enough of an expert in theology to be able to tell what innovative ideas Teresa introduced in her writing. To me it felt like it was so thoroughly adopted by Catholic teaching by now that nothing felt controversial. ( )
  rmagahiz | Jul 9, 2020 |
It took me some time to get through this masterpiece by Saint Teresa of Avila. Written in 1577 during the Spanish Inquisition, I found it difficult to get through the self-effacing humility of the good saint and had to take several breaks. One of the blessings/curses of the Dover Thrift Editions is that the books are deceptively small, and while this book is only 168 pages, the pages are dense in words. It is a blessing that the books look short, and a curse because they aren't. Yet they are very affordable and the deception encourages me to read books I would otherwise put off for later. Like Karl Marx's Capital, sitting near me (and larger than Tolstoy's War and Peace at some 1,361 pages.). I found a few things about Interior Castle confusing. St Teresa writes there are seven mansions that the soul passes through (one chooses to enter the crystal castle from the wilderness). As one enters the first mansion, some of the critters get in with you. You can see both the light of the innermost mansion, yet you can still see the dark. St Teresa tells of the experiences of the soul progressing to the seventh mansion where the soul is at one with God. Although the development of the soul as it progressed was obvious, I am still in the dark as far as knowing which mansion one might be in at any given time, if at all. St Teresa writes for other nuns, and while I understand that this is a modern translation, it is interesting how she frequently asks the reader to excuse her stupidity in being unable to explain things. Clearly, the book was not written in one sitting, and often St Teresa admits that she cannot recall what or if she mentioned something in a previous chapter, and that she would not re-read what she had written. This is clearly not a first draft, however, and this edition includes footnotes that indicate what was a marginal comment, with alternative wordings, additions, or omissions from one of the two "learned men" St Teresa had correct her drafts. Such caution was prudent during the Spanish Inquisition, indeed. For many pages I made no notes, and then numerous notes in a handful of pages. St Teresa covers the importance of self-knowledge, of learning, of humility, and raises an interesting question of the soul versus the spirit. While she does not give a definitive comparison, she suggests that the soul and the spirit are closely intertwined, but are not necessarily the same thing. I have often wondered about this difference. One could argue that the ideas of Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, James Allen, and Stephen Covey came from this work. St Teresa confirms the theme of Candide, Franklin's virtues, James Allen's "he who conquers self conquers the universe", and Stephen Covey's "Circle of Influence" as principles for living the interior life. I read this book because of the title, hoping to find something more about the "inner citadel" the Stoics spoke of, and others who have used "interior castle" to mean something similar. St Teresa puts a different bent on the Stoic idea, but one can see the influence of the Stoics on Christian thought. There are two main lessons St Teresa has confirmed for me. First:...try to be least of all... and your foundation will be so firmly laid that your Castle will not fall.And second:...unless you strive after the virtues and practice them, you will never grow to be more than dwarfs.Further, St Teresa provides a quote which goes a long way to explain what I refer to in my leadership teaching as the "duty cycle" that prevents people from realising their goals:...the devil sometimes puts ambitious desires into our hearts, so that, instead of setting our hand to the work which lies nearest us, and thus serving Our Lord in ways within our power, we may rest content with having desired the impossible.Finally, a friend once asked about the Delphic maxim "Know Thyself" and that, despite having been told by others that the phrase appeared in the Holy Bible, it doesn't (and it really doesn't), this is the earliest Christian reference to the Delphic maxim I have encountered to date. Whether this was a result of the work of the Toledo School of Translators is something I hope to investigate further. ( )
  madepercy | Dec 26, 2018 |
Bers a stamp: "Christopher Library Old Alresford Place"
  holycrossabbey | Dec 6, 2018 |
Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus (1515-1582) was a Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun and author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time and the movement she initiated was joined by Saint John of the Cross.
  LFUMC | Nov 18, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (86 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
St. Teresa of Avilaprimary authorall editionscalculated
a Benedictine of StanbrookTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kavanaugh, KieranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Panikkar, RaimundoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peers, E. AllisonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodriguez, OtilioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zimmerman O.C.D., Father BenedictIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To the gracious memory of
P. Edmund Gurdon
Sometime prior of the Carthusian Monastery
of Miraflores
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Einführung: "Es bot sich mir an, unsere Seele als eine gänzlich aus einem einzigen Diamanten oder sehr klaren Kristall bestehende Burg zu betrachten, in der es viele Gemächer gibt, so wie es im Himmel viele Wohnungen gibt " (1M 1,1), so stellt Teresa ihr Gleichnis vor, das gleichsam der rote Faden ihres Hauptwerkes 'Wohnungen der inneren Burg' ist.

Few tasks which I have been commanded to undertake by obedience have been so difficult as this present one of writing about matters relating to prayer: for one reason, because I do not feel that the Lord has given me either the spirituality or the desire for it; for another, because for the last three months I have been suffering from such noises and weakness in the head that I find it troublesome to write even about visionary business.
Diese Abhandlung, "Innere Burg" genannt, hat Teresa von Jesus, Schwester Unserer Lieben Frau vom Berg Karmel, für ihre Mitschwestern und Töchter, die Unbeschuhten Karmelitinnen, geschrieben.
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'While I was beseeching Our Lord to-day that He would speak through me, since I could find nothing to say and had no idea how to begin to carry out the obligation laid upon me by obedience, a thought occurred to me which I will now set down, in order to have some foundation on which to build. I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions.' Thus begins Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, one of the most celebrated books ever written by a mystic on abiding in union with Christ. Writing in obedience to the requests of two of her superiors, the humble 16th century Spanish sister protests 'for the love of God, let me get on with my spinning and go to choir...like the other sisters...I am not meant for writing; I have neither the health nor the wits for it.' However, in her pre-coffee-house conversational style, Teresa of Avila charmingly proves to her listeners that she does have the wits for conveying that 'the most essential thing is that we should love God,' as she takes us by the hand and lead us on a visually beautiful spiritual journey into the soul, that Interior Castle where Christ abides, and where we may abide with Him in holy, intimate communion.

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Forse nessun altro libro in lingua spagnola ha ricevuto un così vasto consenso popolare come “Il Castello Interiore” di Santa Teresa d’Avila. Al di là dei suoi meriti spirituali, “Il Castello Interiore” contiene anche molti meriti letterari e può considerarsi un classico della letteratura del Rinascimento spagnolo, al pari delle altre grandi opere di quel periodo. Per stile e taglio letterario, “Il Castello Interiore”, come molte opere di genio, è estremamente semplice. Teresa d’Avila immagina l’anima come “un castello fatto di un sol diamante”, in cui ci sono molte stanze, proprio come in cielo ci sono molte dimore. Nel libro sono descritte le varie stanze del castello – i gradi di purificazione e di conflitto – attraverso cui l’anima, nella sua ricerca della perfezione, deve passare prima draggiungere la stanza più interna, il luogo della trasfigurazione completa e della comunione con Dio, fonte della gioia più profonda. “Il castello interiore” può considerarsi la più sublime e matura fra le opere di Teresa d’Avila: un vero gioiello della letteratura mistica, in grado ancora oggi di appassionare, istruire e affascinare il lettore.
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