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The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila

The Interior Castle (1588)

by St. Teresa of Avila

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
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 |
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 |
This discourse on mysticism written for the aid of her fellow Discalced Carmelite nuns, written from the heart is surprisingly readable given the distance in time between Teresa and the modern reader. There is a genuineness that shines out from each page. This is closer to a memoir than it is to a treatise. It is hard not to be constantly aware of the strength of her vision that must have been so vivid to her contemporaries, in a way that allowed her to move beyond the structured expectations for a woman, for a nun in 16th Century Spain. Kieran Kavanaugh's translation is highly readable. And his introduction is informative, a great help in providing context for her writing and her life. ( )
1 vote danhammang | Apr 27, 2017 |
For the first time in well over 70 years, this work is now available. This particular work is the translation by The sisters of Stanbrook Abbey. This effort is also a critical examine against that of Allison Peers, infamous version. ( )
  RevelationInsight | Mar 25, 2016 |
I could tell this was an informative, experiential, and intimate look at the spiritual inner life; however I think I am still stuck outside the proverbial castle gate. ( )
  PCGator | Sep 18, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (86 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
St. Teresa of Avilaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kavanaugh, KieranTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Panikkar, RaimundoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peers, E. AllisonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodriguez, OtilioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the gracious memory of
P. Edmund Gurdon
Sometime prior of the Carthusian Monastery
of Miraflores
A man of God
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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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385036434, Paperback)

A cornerstone book on mystical theology, Interior Castle describes the seven stages of union with God. Using everyday language to explain difficult theological concepts, Teresa of Avila compares the contemplative life to a castle with seven chambers. Tracing the passage of the soul through each successive chamber, she draws a powerful picture of the path toward spiritual perfection. It is the most sublime and mature of Teresa's works, offering profound and inspiring reflections on such subjects as self-knowledge, humility, detachment, and suffering.

One of the most celebrated works on mystical theology in existence, as timely today as when St. Teresa of Avila wrote it centuries ago, this is a treasury of unforgettable maxims on self-knowledge and fulfillment.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:58 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A masterpiece of spiritual literature, this sixteenth-century work was inspired by a mystical vision that came upon the revered St. Teresa of Avila, one of the most gifted and beloved religious figures in history. St. Teresa's vision was of a luminous crystal castle composed of seven chambers, or "mansions", each representing a different stage in the development of the soul. In her most important and widely read book, St. Teresa describes how, upon entering the castle through prayer and meditation, the human spirit experiences humility, detachment, suffering, and ultimately, self-knowledge, as it roams from room to room. As the soul progresses further toward the center of the castle, it comes closer to achieving ineffable and perfect peace, and, finally, a divine communion with God. A set of rare and beautiful teachings for people of all faiths desirous of divine guidance, this meticulous modern translation by E. Allison Peers breathes contemporary life into a religious classic. (Back cover).… (more)

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