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The Way of Perfection

4.34  ·  Rating Details ·  1,533 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Of all of Teresa of Avila's works, The Way of Perfection is the most easily understood. Written at the height of the controversy surrounding the reforms Teresa instituted in the Carmelite order, it instructed the nuns in the practice of prayer. Teresa discusses the three essentials of a prayer-filled life -- fraternal love, detachment from material things, and true humilit ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 15th 1991 by Image (first published 1583)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 07, 2015 booklady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone serious about the spiritual life
There’s a reason I keep coming back to this book. Prayer – like anything you want to learn to do well – requires training, practice, time, diligence, patience, and discipline. Most people don’t understand this, or they don’t accept it. They recognize these things are necessary for sports or hobbies, but prayer? Or a relationship with God? You just pray when you need to, however you want.

Teresa’s advice in Way of Perfection, though written 500 years ago to a group pf cloistered nuns, is as appli
I don’t know how many times I’ve read The Way of Perfection--which doesn’t seem so much like a book as a conversation, albeit one-way. Teresa wrote this for her sisters so her voice is warmly familiar, at times consoling, then chiding-admonishing but in a loving maternal manner.
This was my first opportunity to read it using the Institute of Carmelite Studies (ICS) Edition Study Guide. If you really want to understand the text, I cannot recommend this guide enough. Each chapter contains the orig
Aug 10, 2012 Karin rated it it was amazing
I rarely rate a book five stars, but this one certainly deserves the rating. The Way of Perfection
by St Teresa of Avila is probably one her easier books to read. She wrote it for her sisters, but there is much for the lay man or woman to take from it as well.
The majority of the book focuses on the saint's treatise of the Our Father.She calls it the prayer of perfect contemplation.
Within the context of the petitions of this prayer, she teaches many lessons on praying the prayer itself, on avoi
Apr 20, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing
The heart of this book is St. Theresa's explanation of the Our Father (Paternoster)and how it can guide you in prayer, from vocal prayer to contemplation. St. Theresa is an excellent writer whose humility makes her discussion of prayer simple to follow, if not practice. Her humor comes through the more you read her works.
Magnus Itland
Apr 25, 2012 Magnus Itland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Way of Perfection" is written for younger nuns, St Teresa's spiritual daughters as she thought of them. It is personal, informal and humble. The saint has been told that some people are wary of mysticism and contemplation, so she teaches her fellow nuns how to go about their ordinary vocal prayers with layer upon layer of depth and meaning which they can use if they are afraid of the wordless contemplation (what we today often call meditation.)

I am not a Catholic, but I can not doubt that T
Apr 13, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it
Saint Teresa of Avila's classic work on the spiritual life, concentrating on avoiding worldly distractions and earnest prayer. Very simple but also very powerful.
The funny thing about this book is that technically it should not be a good book at all. The writing is rather rambling, the author loses her train of thought and backtracks a lot, the sentences are long and loopy, etc. Yet it is a great book! Once I started reading I simply got pulled along as if by a strong current. I could not put the book down or even think of anything else. An amazing experience!
Apr 05, 2009 Frank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the type of book I can read over and over. St. Teresa is a Doctor in the Catholic Church and so her writings teach something special. I have read this book before but I think the Audio method is even better. It is like her standing there and explaining how to pray. This book is all one needs to really learn what prayer really is all about and how to do it. I know of know other book that will help one reach perfection through prayer as this one does.
Aug 28, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written for her fellow sisters in the convent. I enjoyed the section on the Our Father and the description of the 3 types of prayer.
zaK young
Jun 10, 2008 zaK young rated it really liked it
if you notice something in someone else's behavior that needs changing; instead of correcting that person, try to emphasize the opposite traits in your own behavior.
Mar 28, 2012 April rated it it was amazing
This is a good introduction to St Teresa, and a good explanation of the types of prayer, and the Paternoster. It was an enjoyable read.
Daniel Carr
Nov 10, 2013 Daniel Carr rated it it was amazing
Saint Teresa of Avila is well known for her mysticism and spirituality. But she is also a very realistic, sensible, and down-to-earth writer. Her advice in The Way of Perfection seems to cut to the heart and be relevant to her readers. I found myself thinking "this is exactly what I need to hear right now" more than once.

Since I have been reading this book over a period of 4-5 months, it would be hard for me to summarize the book. The later chapters go through the "Our Father" prayer and discuss
Nov 30, 2011 Keith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Keith by: Connie Minnich
This edition is based on the translation of E. Allison Peers, itself based on the latest Spanish critical editions of the time. However, two chapters (3 and 5) pertaining directly to life in a religious order have been eliminated from this popular edition for lack of broader appeal. The present editor has further modernized the language, replacing archaic terms with modern English equivalents (e.g., Thou to You) and shifting passive to active voice.

This certainly makes for a livelier read and op
Mar 08, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This book has two parts. In the first part, Teresa of Avila talks to the nuns in her convent about living in community. The second part, which I found the most profitable, was her exposition on the Lord's Prayer. She grabbed me from the first moment when she said to think about all that is implied in the first two words, that Jesus begins with "Our Father" rather than "My Father."

Some of her thoughts that I particularly liked: "The topsy-turviness of this world is terrible."

"For anyone to whom t
Christian Herrera
Sep 14, 2014 Christian Herrera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really gives you a sneak peak in the time and culture St. Teresa of Avila lived in. The title says it all. The book is clear cut perspective from a devout Catholic nun (now a canonized saint in the Catholic Church) written in 16th century Spain on striving for perfection and how to spiritually develop and evolve.

I enjoyed the read mainly because I've found much of what the author says is absolutely true. You do not have to be a Catholic to find this book helpful. St. Teresa's wisdom t
May 21, 2015 Jeannine rated it it was amazing
After having read Interior Castles, I found this one to be a bit slow going, at first. However, once I pushed forward, I found that this was, once again, a well-written explanation of the contemplative life. Using the Lord's Prayer as the foundation, she takes the reader through the process of prayer as well as the purpose. Even though I find her continuous self-doubt (or excusing herself for being a mere woman) to be a bit tiring, the message itself is incredibly moving.
Mar 21, 2009 Frank rated it it was amazing
The title says it all. Teresa from back in the 1500s is still as modern as if written today. This is truly a classic on the practice of prayer. She has a very unique way of leading one along the way of prayer, one that is easy to read but not always that easy to put into practice. It is a book to be read and reread again and again. It really does help one to pray.
Anne Bishop
May 19, 2015 Anne Bishop rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I started reading this to learn more about the author. Then joined a group discussing the book. If you are searching for knowledge about St. Teresa of Avila this might be a good place to start.
Aug 06, 2016 Yee rated it liked it
I read another version of this book, and didn't manage to complete it. The text is not easily accessible. One gets lost by the time one gets to the Fifth Room. It's too mystical; one doesn't know what Saint Teresa is talking about. It starts to just make no sense.
Jan 07, 2010 Erik marked it as to-read
Included in the "Spiritual Classics" section of Fr. John McCloskey's 100-book Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan.
Feb 03, 2012 Yolanda rated it liked it
Shelves: dove
The information is good, I found it difficult to follow throughout the entire book. This will go on the list to try for an audio book.
Apr 06, 2014 Kitty rated it it was amazing
The essence of the book is St. Teresa teaching her young nuns how to love to pray. I found the second half of the book a good lesson for all on how to pray and avoid distractions.
Shawn Johnson
Aug 03, 2012 Shawn Johnson rated it really liked it
This book is for anyone who calls themselves a 'prayer warrior'. Kind of complex, but if you read 10 pages a day...I think you will notice some things happening within yourself....:) check it ot!!
Todd Brown
Apr 09, 2012 Todd Brown rated it really liked it
Chapter 28 is outstanding.
David Huff
Sep 30, 2016 David Huff rated it really liked it
A fascinating book by a 16th Century Carmelite nun, written to give spiritual instruction to the younger nuns under her care in a Spanish convent. Found on most every "spiritual classics" list, it still speaks today -- centuries later -- with much insight on prayer, humility, Christian community, and spiritual growth.

While Teresa often rambles and digresses, it's never without purpose, and the deep humility of her own heart is easy to discern. Her topics progress from loving one another and livi
Jason Shuttlesworth
May 16, 2011 Jason Shuttlesworth rated it liked it
About halfway through...She tends to ramble a bit and backtrack. So far, it's been a bit dry, but I can relate to everything she says. This kind of reads like a letter...written by an oldest sister to her much younger siblings. I can picture St. Teresa lecturing a group of girls, pacing back and forth, while thet twirl their curls and drink hot tea. more later....

Finished! Extremely dry reading but useful. The latter part of the book is St. Teresa talking about the Lord's Prayer, what it means,
Jonathan Widell
May 11, 2015 Jonathan Widell rated it liked it
Teresa of Avila: The Way of Perfection. A really hard book to follow but I suspect there is not much to follow. It is funny that she opens one of the chapters by noticing how many words she has used but adds that not as many as she would need. I don't think she needs any more words than she has already used but should instead consider counting verbosity as one of her challenges. She comes across as exceedingly shallow and slightly hysteric. The two points she makes is, first, that it is importan ...more
Jun 25, 2016 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: summah-2016
This was the first book of St Teresa's that I've read before. In it, her charism advocates for unrelenting hope, humility, and an emphasis on the often overlooked but simple tools of the spiritual life (vocal prayers, that contemplation is not necessarily critical, etc).

I learned three things about God that I had not got into my brain quite as well before. One, that no matter how holy a person may seem, he or she is always in danger of sin. So we must always pray. Second, however, that even thou
Oct 19, 2008 Russ rated it really liked it
This is a very readable, even domestic, work from a 16th century Spanish mystic. I have somehow not read her before, other than some brief excerpts, and I gather that this is not representative of her more mystical works. Steeled for something more like St. John of the Cross, it took me awhile to get used to her tone. Once I did, though, I found her an engaging thinker who uses some wonderful images and extended similes to make her points.

The book was written at the behest of her fellow nuns as
I tend to read books too quickly, wanting to get the gist of it, or get something out of it to apply to my life, and move on to the next book. Hey, there are a lot of books out there! As I read this book I was reminded of the need to read slowly. Often I limited myself to two chapters a day, or maybe a bit in the morning and a bit in the evening. This is not fun and exciting reading. But it is a text on the spiritual life, on prayer and communing with God, by one of the great mystics of the hist ...more
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  • The Ascent of Mount Carmel
  • Introduction to the Devout Life
  • Abandonment to Divine Providence
  • Fire Within: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and the Gospel - On Prayer
  • Uniformity with God's Will
  • Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue (Classics of Western Spirituality)
  • The Secret Of The Rosary
  • The Spiritual Exercises
  • The Spirit of the Liturgy
  • Life of Christ
  • Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul
  • Apologia Pro Vita Sua (A Defense of One's Life)
  • On Loving God
  • Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul
  • The Soul of The Apostolate
  • Theology for Beginners
  • This Tremendous Lover
  • Prayer
Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a prominent Spanish mystic, Carmelite nun, and writer of the Counter Reformation. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites. In 1970 she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI.

Born in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515, St. Teresa was the
More about Teresa of Ávila...

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“I cannot understand how humility exists, or can exist, without love, or love without humility,” 6 likes
“many people are good at talking and bad at understanding,” 5 likes
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