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The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila

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Among the women of Christendom, the bold Teresa of Avila has succeeded in transmitting a profound and enduring record of the nature of spiritual reality and of Christocentric mystical consciousness. Her biography The Life of Saint Teresa was written in the middle 1500s at the behest of her spiritual directors. In it, she writes with great openness of both her human weaknesses and her extraordinary spiritual attainments. Teresa speaks of the indiscretions of her youth, of her own “depravity”, of her vanity, and of other sins and failings. Interestingly, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina spoke equally scathingly of his own “sinfulness”. One can only wonder where that puts the rest of us. Teresa was able to draw both solace and inspiration from St. Augustine’s “Confessions” at a critical time in her early life. She was thereby strengthened in her resolve to pursue the way of perfection. By virtue of having overcome her own weaknesses, Teresa emerges as one with profound compassion for and understan…