Saint Theresa of Avila – “Collected Works – The Book of Her Life – Spiritual Testimonies – Soliloquies” (Additional Title: “The Way of Perfection”)

Additional Title: The Way of Perfection

Collected Works – The Book of Her Life –
Spiritual Testimonies – Soliloquies

Introduction 15
Prologue 53
1 Treats of how the Lord began to awaken this soul to virtue in her childhood and of how helpful it is in this matter that parents also be virtuous 54
2 Treats of how she lost these virtues and of how important it is in childhood to associate with virtuous people 56
3 Treats of how good companionship played a part in the awakening once again of her good desires and how the Lord began to give her some light on the mistake she had been making 61
4 Tells how she was helped by the Lord to force herself to take the habit and of the many illnesses His Majesty began to send her 64
5 Continues to treat of her great illnesses, of the patience the Lord gave her, and of how He draws good out of evil, as is seen in something that happened to her in that place where she went for a cure 70
6 Treats of how much she owes the Lord for having given her conformity to His will in the midst of such severe trials, and how she took the glorious St. Joseph for her mediator and advocate, and of the great good he did for her 76
7 Treats of the ways by which she lost the favors the Lord had granted her and of how distracted a life she began to live. Speaks of the harm that results when monasteries of nuns are not strictly enclosed 82
8 Treats of the great good it did her not to turn from prayer completely and thereby lose her soul, and of what an excellent means prayer is for winning back what is lost. Urges all to this practice. Tells how it is so highly profitable and that even though one may abandon it again, there is great value in giving some time to so great a good 94
9 Treats of the means by which the Lord began to awaken her soul and give it light amid such thick darknesses and strengthen her virtues that she might not offend Him 100
10 Begins to tell about the favors the Lord granted her in prayer, of how we ourselves can help, and how important it is that we understand the graces the Lord gives us. Asks the one to whom this is sent to keep secret what she writes about from here on, for they commanded her to speak so personally about the favors the Lord grants her 105
11 Tells of the reason for the failure to reach the perfect love of God in a short time. Begins to explain through a comparison four degrees of prayer. Goes on to deal here with the first degree. The doctrine is very beneficial for beginners and for those who do not have consolations in prayer 110
12 Continues the discussion of this first stage. Tells how far we can get, with the help of God. through our own efforts, and about the harm that results when the spirit desires to ascend to supernatural things before the Lord grants them 119
13 Continues with this first stage and gives advice concerning some temptations the devil at times causes The advice is very helpful 123
14 Begins to explain the second degree of prayer in which the Lord now starts to give the soul a more special kind of consolation. Explains how this experience is supernatural. This matter is worth noting 133
15 Continues on the same subject and gives some advice about how to act in this prayer of quiet. Discusses the fact that many souls reach this prayer but few pass beyond. Knowledge of the things touched on here is very necessary and beneficial 139
16 Treats of the third degree of prayer. Explains sublime matters and what the soul that reaches this stage can do and the effects produced by these great favors of the Lord. This chapter lifts the soul up in the praises of God and brings wonderful consolation to whoever reaches this stage 147
17 Continues the same subject, the explanation of this third degree of prayer. Concludes the discussion of its effects. Speaks of the harm caused by the imagination and memory 152
18 Discusses the fourth degree of prayer. Begins to offer an excellent explanation of the great dignity the Lord bestows upon the soul in this state. Gives much encouragement to those who engage in prayer that they might strive to attain so high a stage since it can be reached on earth, although not by merit but through God’s goodness. This should be read attentively, for the explanation is presented in a very subtle way and there are many noteworthy things 157
19 Continues on the same subject. Begins to explain the effects this degree of prayer produces in the soul Strongly urges souls not to turn back. Speaks of the harm that results from abandoning prayer. This chapter is very important and most consoling for the weak and for sinners 164
20 Discusses the difference between union and rapture. Explains the nature of rapture and tells something about the good possessed by the soul that the Lord in His kindness brings to this prayer of rapture. Tells of its effects. There is much to marvel over 172
21 Continues and concludes the discussion of this last degree of prayer . Tells about what the soul that experiences this prayer feels upon returning to life in the world and about the light the Lord gives it concerning the world’s illusions. It contains good doctrine 185
22 Treats of how safe a path it is for contemplatives not to raise the spirit to high things unless the Lord raises it and of how the humanity of Christ must be the means to the most sublime contemplation. Tells about a mistaken theory she once tried to follow. This chapter is very beneficial 191
23 Returns to the account of her life, of how she began to seek greater perfection, and by what means. For persons trying to guide souls that practice prayer it is helpful to know how these souls must proceed in the beginning. How she profited from knowing about this 200
24 Continues on the same topic. Tells how her soul made progress after she began to obey, how little it helped her to resist God’s favors, and how His Majesty began giving her more perfect ones 209
25 Discusses the nature of these locutions the Lord grants to the soul without the use of the sense of hearing, some of the delusions that can result from these locutions, and how one can discern when they come from God. This chapter is most helpful and gives much doctrine for those who find themselves in this degree of prayer since the matter is explained very well 212
26 Continues on the same subject. Tells and explains about things that happened to her, which both caused her to lose the fear and confirmed that it was the good spirit speaking to her 223
27 Treats of another way in which the Lord instructs the soul, and without speaking to it, makes His will known in a wonderful manner. Explains also a non-imaginative vision and great favor the Lord granted her. This chapter is very noteworthy 227
28 Deals with the great favors the Lord granted her and how He appeared to her the first time. Explains what an imaginative vision is. Tells about the remarkable effects and signs this vision leaves behind when it is from God. This is a very instructive chapter and well worth noting 237
29 Continues the topic begun and tells of some great favors the Lord granted her and of some things His Majesty told her for her own assurance and so that she could answer those who contradicted her 246
30 Returns to the account of her life and tells how the Lord removed many of her trials by bringing to the city in which she lived the saintly Friar Peter of Alcantara, of the order of the glorious St. Francis. Discusses the great temptations and interior trials she sometimes underwent 253
31 Deals with some exterior temptations and representations of the devil and the torments he inflicted on her. Treats also of some matters very beneficial for advising persons who journey on the path of perfection 264
32 Discusses how the Lord desired to put her spirit in a place in hell she had deserved because of her sins. Gives a brief account of what was shown her there. Begins to deal with the way in which the monastery of St. Joseph, where she now is, was founded 276
33 Continues on the same subject, about the foundation dedicated to the glorious St. Joseph. Tells how she was ordered not to become involved with the project, of the time she abandoned it, of some trials she had, and of how the Lord consoled her 284
34 Discusses how at this time it was opportune for her to leave the city. Tells about the reason and how her superior ordered her to go to console a lady of the nobility who was very distressed. Begins to deal with what happened there and the great favor the Lord granted her in making her the means by which He awakened a very eminent person to serve Him wholeheartedly, and how afterward she had this person’s support and favor. The chapter is most important 293
35 Continues on the same subject: the foundation of this house of our glorious father St. Joseph. Tells of the means the Lord provided by which holy poverty would be observed in it, the reason why she left the lady she was staying with and returned, and of some other things that happened to her 302
36 Continues the same subject. Tells how this monastery of the glorious St. Joseph was finally founded and of the strong opposition and persecution the nuns had to undergo after taking the habit. Tells also of the great trials and temptations she suffered and how the Lord brought her out of them all victoriously to His own praise and glory 309
37 Discusses the effects of a certain favor the Lord granted her. Some very good doctrine accompanies this discussion. Tells how one should strive for a greater degree of glory, and esteem it highly, and that we shouldn’t neglect everlasting goods for any difficulty 323
38 Deals with some great favors the Lord granted her by showing her certain heavenly secrets, and with other great visions and revelations that His Majesty wanted her to see. Tells of the effects they had on her and of the great profit her soul derived from them 329
39 Continues on the same subject, telling of the great favors the Lord granted her. Treats of how He promised to answer her prayers for other persons. Tells of some remarkable instances in which His Majesty granted her this favor 342
40 Continues with the same subject, telling of the great favors the Lord granted her. Good doctrine can be deduced from some of these favors; for, in addition to obeying, her main intention, as she said, has been to write about those favors that will be of benefit to souls. With this chapter the written account of her life comes to an end. May it be for the glory of the Lord, amen 354
Spiritual Testimonies
Introduction 369
1 Her spiritual state and manner of prayer 372
2 Detachment and other virtues flowing from God’s favors 380
3 General account of her state of soul 382
4 Prophecy of her death 385
5 God’s standards are different from the world’s 386
6 Our Lord encourages her to make more foundations 386
7 A message to be given 387
8 Right intention and detachment 388
9 Public rapture 388
10 Surrender and joy in God 388
11 Take courage, the order of the Blessed Virgin will flourish 388
12 Transpiercing of the soul 389
13 An intellectual vision of the Blessed Trinity 391
14 Habitual experience of the indwelling Trinity 392
15 Enclosure and the will of God 393
16 Prayer for her brother Agustin de Ahumada 393
17 Desires for death 394
18 Prophecy about St. Joseph’s at Avila 394
19 Penance and obedience 394
20 Intellectual vision of a soul in grace and in sin 394
21 Her vision of our Lady in the choir of the Incarnation 395
22 Eucharistic experience 396
23 Am I not your God 397
24 True humility — Put my counsels in writing 397
25 The nature of union 398
26 Do not renounce what awakens love 399
27 Spiritual improvement at the Incarnation 399
28 A favor on St. Mary Magdalene’s feast 400
29 Infused knowledge of the Blessed Trinity 400
30 Her mission in Carmel 401
31 Spiritual Marriage 402
32 The way of suffering and love 403
33 A prophetic vision and victory for her Carmel 404
34 A spiritual token 404
35 The vow of obedience to Father Gratian 404
36 The vow of obedience to Father Gratian 405
37 Desire to live and serve the Lord 408
38 Locution about Father Gratian 408
39 Establishing a feast of our Lady 409
40 God’s omnipresence 410
41 The constitutions and the Lord’s law 410
42 Infused knowledge of the Trinity 410
43 Renewal of vows in our Lady’s hands 411
44 Union with Christ in the Eucharist 411
45 The reform of the monastery of Paterna 411
46 An effect of the spiritual marriage 412
47 The value of good works 412
48 The Lord tells her to record His words 412
49 God’s presence in the soul 413
50 Father Gratian’s health 413
51 The indwelling of the Blessed Trinity 414
52 Deep secrets in Communion 414
53 Intellectual vision of the Lord’s nearness 415
54 Vision of Father Gratian 416
55 The feast of the Presentation of our Lady in the temple 417
56 Infused understanding of a Magnificat verse 417
57 Revelation about the survival of her Carmel 417
58 Account of her spiritual life for the Inquisitor of Seville 418
59 The degrees of infused prayer 425
60 Changing confessors 433
61 Perfection and poor health 433
62 Self-love and the desire for penance 434
63 Forgiveness of sins 434
64 Counsels for the Discalced Fathers 434
65 The present state of her spiritual life 435
Introduction 441
1 Separation from God 443
2 Solitude and thirst for souls 444
3 Merciful Redeemer and just Judge 445
4 Recovering lost time 446
5 Loving complaints and petitions; Martha’s complaint 447
6 Painful longing for God 448
7 Your delight is to be with the children of men 449
8 Cure the blindness caused by our evil deeds 450
9 You give living water to the thirsty 451
10 Raise up sinners from their death 452
11 The fear of endless torments 453
12 Those who withdraw from God are sick people 454
13 The souls of the blessed help us in our misery 456
14 The love and the wrath of God 457
15 The suffering of longing of God 458
16 The wounds of love 459
17 All my good is in pleasing You 461
Notes to the Life 467
Notes to the Spiritual Testimonies 492
Notes to the Soliloquies 500
Index 504

Here concludes “Collected Works – The Book of Her Life – Spiritual Testimonies – Soliloquies“.

The Way of Perfection

Introduction 2
The reason why I founded this convent in such austere observance 5
That the necessities of the body should be disregarded. Of the advantages of poverty 9
This chapter continues the subject spoken of in the first chapter. The writer exhorts the sisters constantly to beg God to protect those who labour for the Church, and concludes with an ardent appeal to God 15
An exhortation to obey the Rule. Three very important matters in the spiritual life. One must strive after sublime perfection in order to accomplish so great an enterprise. How to practise prayer 23
Continues speaking of confessors: of the importance of their being learned and of how we should behave towards them 32
Returns to the subject of perfect love 38
Continues to speak of spiritual love, and gives advice how to obtain it 43
Treats of the great advantage of detaching ourselves from all created things, whether interior or exterior. Of the great benefits gained by those who have left the world by severing themselves from their relatives, and how they will meet with far truer friendship instead of that which they have given up 52
Those who have given up the world benefit by doing so and gain truer friends: this, however, does not suffice unless we forsake ourselves also 55
That this abnegation is not enough unless we also are detached from ourselves: how this virtue and humility go together 58
Continues to treat of mortification and explains how to gain it during illness. How little this life should be valued by one who truly loves God 63
That one who truly loves God must care little for life or honour. That one who seeks after perfection must despise honours 67
Continues the subject of mortification: that a nun must avoid the touchiness and wisdom of the world, in order to attain true wisdom 73
Treats of the great importance of not professing any one of a spirit contrary to the qualifications here described 79
The great advantage of not excusing ourselves even when unjustly blamed 82
The game of Chess 88
That some souls are not suited to contemplation, and others are long in attaining it. Every one who is truly humble should be content to go by the way our Lord conducts her 96
Continuation of the same subject. Shows that contemplatives have to bear far heavier crosses than people who lead the active life. This chapter offers great consolation to the latter 101
How souls should pray if they cannot make use of the understanding in prayer 108
Shows how, in one way or another, prayer always brings us consolation. The sisters are advised to speak to one another constantly on this subject 120
The importance of making a firm resolution, from the very first, to persevere in prayer and to heed no obstacles raised against it by the devil 124
Shows what mental prayer is 131
How important it is that one who has entered on the way of prayer should not turn back 137
How vocal prayer may be made with perfection. Its close connection with mental prayer 141
That great profit is reaped by the soul from pray ing vocally with perfection, and that God then sometimes raises it to a supernatural state 145
Shows how to collect the thoughts, suggesting means of doing so. This chapter is useful for those beginning to practise prayer 148
Speaks of the great love shown us by our Lord in the first words of the Pater Noster. How important it is that those who sincerely desire to be daughters of God should despise all pride of birth 154
Describes the prayer of recollection and lays down rules for practising it. [Escorial: begins to teach how to recollect the mind] 158
Continues the instruction on the prayer of recollection. That it is of little consequence whether or no the Prioress likes us 167
The importance of understanding the meaning of our prayers. The words of the Pater Noster: Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come. How these apply to the prayer of quiet, of which the explanation is begun 172
Continues the same subject and describes the prayer of quiet. Gives advice to souls in that state. This chapter is very noteworthy 177
Explains the words of the Pater Noster: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. How much is effected by uttering these words with attention, and how richly God rewards us for it 187
How needful it is for us that God should grant our demand in the Pater Noster: Give us this day our daily bread 197
Continues the same subject. Contains very useful advice for those who have received Holy Communion, An explanation of the word daily 202
Continues the foregoing subject. Contains an appeal to the eternal Father. Of the recollection which should be practised after Holy Communion 213
On the words Forgive us our trespasses 217
Of the beauties of the Pater Noster and the great consolation it brings us 227
Treats of the urgent need there is of begging the eternal Father to grant us the petition, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Enumerates and explains some temptations which come from the devil 231
Continues the same subject. A description of different kinds of temptations and of the means of freeing the soul from them 240
How, by always living in the love and fear of God, we shall be safe among these temptations. Treats of fear 245
Treats of the fear of God, and that we ought to avoid venial sins 251
Treats of the final words of the Pater Noster: But deliver us from evil. Amen 258

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