St Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church: October 15


Today is the feast day of St Teresa of Avila, founder of the Discalced Carmelites.

Teresian monastic theology always seems to me to be, in many respects diametrically opposed to Benedictine: the choral Office plays a much smaller role in Carmelite life; the love of learning is not a noticeable feature of the spirituality, displaced by a more structured approach to meditation; Carmelites are hermits in community rather than cenobites per se; the Teresian attitude to debate and obedience within the monastery is much more absolutist than the Benedictine; and the approach to enclosure much stricter. 

Others, though, do find ways to combine the two spiritualities, and her doctrine of mystical prayer has been extraordinarily influential, and her Life and major works such as The Interior Castle should be on everyone's essential spiritual reading list.

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