Monday, July 27, 2015

Navigating the Interior Life Series (Emmaus Road Publishing)

I've been in the book review game, since September of 2012. During that time I have reviewed hundreds of books. Some have been good; some have been duds; and others still stick with me today. At the end of 2012, Daniel Burke published a book entitled Navigating the Interior Life. In February 2015, he published two more books, which I have the pleasure to share with you today. They are entitled 30 Days with Teresa of Avila and Finding God Through Meditation. Both of these books are part of the Navigating the Interior Life Series, and I'm excited to see the future books that will come from this series. But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you about these two books!

30 Days with Teresa of Avila is a 140 page book that takes us through thirty of St. Teresa's 400+ letters. The topics covered in her letters include subjects like humility, mental prayer, spiritual warfare, and detachment (repeatedly), to name a few. I put repeatedly in parentheses, because three of the letters chosen deal specifically with this subject. On the subject of detachment, St. Teresa tells us the following, "the so-called goods of this miserable life are impediments," and "I wish to have no choice in it and shall be contented wherever I may be sent." In this brief lines, we can see a detachment to possessions and a detachment to personal choice, which is ultimately surrender to God.

The two brief quotes above are just a small sampling of what is in this book. In addition to letters from St. Teresa, we also receive reflections from Daniel Burke and Anthony Lilles, the co-founders of Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation. With 30 letters, it is clear this book is designed to be read over the course of a month, and with short chapters, you can read each one over a cup of coffee in the morning or before you close your eyes at night. Most of us know who St. Teresa is but very few of us have taken the time to read anything by her, let alone her letters. This book not only provided a daily boost, but also encouraged me to find the time to read her other works "Way of Perfection" and "Interior Castle." I know that wasn't the goal of this book, but I am excited to learn more from this great Saint and Doctor of the Church!

When I first received the book, Finding God Through Meditation, I wondered who this St. Peter of Alcantara was listed on the cover. He was apparently the author of this book and spiritual director of St. Teresa of Avila. That is a bit intimidating to think about, but I trust Daniel Burke and I know he wouldn't put hit name on something he didn't believe in, so that encouraged me to read on. There are eight chapters in this short book, but there is enough material to chew on for years, The chapters are as follows:

1. Perspective on Meditation and Devotion
2. The Way of Meditation
3. Counsels of Meditation
4. Deepening Devotion
5. Common Temptations in Meditation and Their Remedies
6. Other Certain Admonitions Necessary for Spiritual Persons
7. Subject Matter of Prayer and Daily Meditations
8. Seven Other Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord

The daily meditations found in the last two chapters prove to be some of the most useful in the book as they provide the reader with two different sets of meditations for each day of the week that guide the reader into a deeper prayer life. However, the chapter which really spoke to me at this moment in my life was Chapter Five. I assume that like me you have trouble praying and growing in your relationship with God. In this chapter, St. Peter of Alcantara outlines nine common problems we all face and some remedies for them. The eighth temptation - "An Inordinate Draw to Study" really hit home for me. In this section, he tells us, "In the day of judgment, we shall not be asked what we have read, but what we have done; not how eloquently we have spoken, but how well we have lived." These few lines reminded me to put down the books more often and not focus solely on the acquisition of knowledge. We can all benefit from reading the words of the saints, especially this saint's. If you want to read what St. Teresa read, then I highly recommend this book. Five stars!

These books were provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit yes!