01 July 2009

Two steps back

I'm frustrated. I have been plugging through St. Teresa's Interior Castle and feel like I'm reading the Book of Acts without having all the necessary background to appreciate how significant everything is. Or, that I am taking calculus without understanding algebra first. It seems very difficult, if not impossible, to push forward without establishing a good foundation.

So, I dug out some of the books I have sitting on the shelf to provide an overview of St. Teresa's and St. John of the Cross' works (A Guide to the Stages of Prayer according to St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and Carmelite Asceticism.)

I did find a study guide online, but haven't looked at it yet. Secular source, so will look for others. A Carmelite study guide would be best. Any suggestions?

Wish Jeff Cavins had a series on this!

St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross, when they set out to instruct us in the way of perfection, do not content themselves with any common ideal; they put before us the mystical ideal in all its sublimity. The ascetic life is, for them the Way of Perfection, leading to the Interior Castle; it is the Ascent of Mount Carmel, that Mount whereon the mystical strains of the Spiritual Canticle echo ceaselessly, where the soul is ever consumed by the Living Flame of Love.
~Carmelite Asceticism, by Very Reverend Father Anastasius of the Holy Rosary, OCD

It's no wonder I'm floundering; I don't have a sublime bone in my body. Maybe I should take this statement as a road map and start with the Way of Perfection, then the Interior Castle.

I'll be lucky if I even get to the study guide!


John said...

I am currently reading "I Want to See God" by P. Marie-Eugene - it is exactly what you are describing.

Grace and peace.

swissmiss said...

Thanks John! I'll have to look into it. I spoke with a Carmelite nun and she recommended Ven. Teresita Quevedo, but I haven't searched for anything she's written yet. My spiritual director, a Carmelite Brother, was puzzled that I was wanting something foundational and told me to keep reading the Interior Castle and we would discuss it. I hope he has a few days set aside for all my questions!

Kathy said...

Don't know if it is still relevant to you but Thomas Ashbrook's recent book, "Mansions of the Heart" is excellent - it makes Teresa's work very accessible and relevant. Written by a Protestant but that shouldn't be a problem.