Teresa of Avila?s spirituality1

Una Canning

This article explores Teresa of Avila?s early difficulties in pursuing a spiritual life and the influence of Jesuit spirituality in helping her to overcome these difficulties. Una Canning is a public health analyst working in London.

There is a commonly ?received view? of spirituality which has its origins in classical antiquity. Janet Soskice2 argues that this ?received view? of Christian spirituality has been shaped by particular views of the contemplative life and with time has established a spiritual hierarchy that privileges the detached life over that of involvement in the world. The ?received view? of spirituality is a movement into a way of life perfectly described by Soskice:3 ?long periods of quiet, focused reflection, dark churches and dignified liturgies. In its higher reaches it involves time spent in contemplative prayer, retreats [and] above all it involves solitude and collectedness.?

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