Teresa of Avila

Today is the feast day of this Spanish mystic and reformer. It is fitting to pay a little blog-tribute to her who pioneered along with John of the Cross, the roadmap to human interiority. I have only read patches of their work here and there as their appeal crosses disciplines from psychology to mysticism to ecclesiology. The most elucidating work I’ve read so far on Teresa is by John Welch, a Carmelite priest. Welch wrote the book Spiritual Pilgrims  – a very insightful comparison between Teresa and Carl Jung. In this book, Welch masterfully crisscrossed between Jung’s psyche and the project of individuation (a very technical term of course that may be loosely translated as human maturity!), and Teresa’s concept of the human soul on its journey towards God and wholeness. In as much as there is a growing acceptance in the religious circle of Jung’s work, Welch concluded that Jung’s concept of the human psyche is as spiritual as Teresa’s insights into the human soul. These two masters and pioneers of human interiority were fishing on the same lake so to speak. Teresa and Jung? They couldn’t be more relevant to our troubled, restless times. I couldn’t keep the book from sharing and so passed it on to a bishop. The image of Teresa’s interior castle may remain foreign to my experience. But one insight I retained is that while the 16th century world of Teresa was obssessed with conquering the outside world with notorious Spanish conquerors such as Hernando Cortes and Francisco Pizzaro burning their ships (point of no return) and eliminating the Aztecs, Teresa dared for a corrective – that of conquering one’s inner world.

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