Monday, September 26, 2016

The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Volume 2 (ICS Publications)

We are quickly approaching the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila, which is October 15th. Two weeks ago, I reviewed Volume One of her Collected Works and to continue my review theme, I am now going to tell you about Volume Two. This book contains two of St. Teresa's more well-known works - The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle. In addition to these two, we are also treated to Meditations on the Song of Songs. Like the first volume, the translators, Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh and Fr. Otilio Rodriguez, wrote introductions to these key works. These introductions provide us with information such as historical context, outline, and central theme.

The Way of Perfection was written while St. Teresa was a nun of the Order of our Lady of Mount Carmel. It was intended as a rule for the discalced nuns. She starts by telling the nuns why she founded this monastery. Some of the subjects she talks about are detachment from worldly things, mortification, perfect love of God, and prayer. Meditations on the Song of Songs is remarkable for several reasons. but the two primary reasons are her lack of Biblical training and the fact that she was a woman commenting on the Song of Songs. It is not a verse-by-verse commentary, but her observations are astute and show a knowledge that can best be described as mystical. The Interior Castle is my favorite work of St. Teresa's. It is hard to do justice talking about it, but in this work, she described her ideal journey of faith. Each level gets the journeyer one step closer to God. The first three mansions deal with ordinary prayer, and the final four mansions deal with contemplative prayer. She does not take any credit for progress on the journey. Instead, she gives all credit to the Sacraments and devotion to God's will.

Each time you read through the words of St. Teresa of Avila, you are treated to the words of a brilliant Doctor of the Church. I would normally say that if you are only going to own one of the volumes of her works, it would be this one. However, I think you really need Volume One as well to appreciate the context of Volume Two and respect the progression of her writings. The only problem I have with this book is the cover doesn't match Volume One and Volume Three, but that is a petty complaint at best. Be sure to check back here in two weeks when I tell you about Volume Three.

This book was provided to me for free by ICS Publications in exchange for an honest review.