The Way of Perfection
By: St. Teresa of Avila
Although St. Teresa of Avila lived and wrote almost four centuries ago, her superbly inspiring classic on the practice of prayer is as fresh and meaningful today as it was when she first wrote it. THE WAY OF PERFECTION is a practical guide to prayer setting forth the Saint’s counsels and directives for the attainment of spiritual perfection.
Through the entire work there runs the author’s desire to teach a deep and lasting love of prayer beginning with a treatment of the three essentials of the prayer-filled life — fraternal love, detachment from created things, and true humility. St. Teresa’s counsels on these are not only the fruit of lofty mental speculation, but of mature practical experience. The next section develops these ideas and brings the reader directly to the subjects of prayer and contemplation. St. Teresa then gives various maxims for the practice of prayer and leads up to the topic which occupies the balance of the book — a detailed and inspiring commentary on the Lord’s Prayer.
Of all St. Teresa’s writings, THE WAY OF PERFECTION is the most easily understood. Although it is a work of sublime mystical beauty, its outstanding hallmark is its simplicity which instructs, exhorts, and inspires all those who are seeking a more perfect way of life.
“I shall speak of nothing of which I have no experience, either in my own life or in observation of others, or which the Lord has not taught me in prayer.” — Prologue
Almost four centuries have passed since St. Teresa of Avila, the great Spanish mystic and reformer, committed to writing the experiences which brought her to the highest degree of sanctity. Her search for, and eventual union with, God have been recorded in her own world-renowned writings — the autobiographical Life, the celebrated masterpiece Interior Castle and The Way of Perfection — as well as in the other numerous works which flowed from her pen while she lived.
The Way of Perfection was written during the height of controversy which raged over the reforms St. Teresa enacted within the Carmelite Order. Its specific purpose was to serve as a guide in the practice of prayer and it sets forth her counsels and directives for the attainment of spiritual perfection through prayer. It was composed by St. Teresa at the express command of her superiors, and was written during the late hours in order not to interfere with the day’s already crowded schedule.
Without doubt it fulfills the tribute given all St. Teresa’s works by E. Allison Peers, the outstanding authority on her writings: “Work of a