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Teresa of Avila: The Progress of a Soul
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message 1: by John (last edited Feb 01, 2017 03:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Seymour | 1795 comments Mod
1. Progress of our Reading.

This thread is for sharing comments and note that come to you as you are reading the book.


John Seymour | 1795 comments Mod
Martyrs = devout opportunists? That seems needlessly offensive and doesn't bode well for my enjoyment of the book,


message 3: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 632 comments I haven't even finished the introduction, but reading the author's bio on the cover makes me wonder how someone who writes for Vogue and House & Garden will do at tackling a spiritual subject.


John Seymour | 1795 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "I haven't even finished the introduction, but reading the author's bio on the cover makes me wonder how someone who writes for Vogue and House & Garden will do at tackling a spiritual subject."

I'm curious about that as well. Nothing on the cover indicates relevant qualifications, though, of course, a faithful Catholic who happened to be a writer and was unhappy with the quality of the biographies on Teresa, or at least thought she had something to say that hadn't been said, would be at least potentially qualified.

I guess we'll see.


message 5: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 632 comments says she's Jewish. Perhaps we'll get a "feminist" take on Teresa, which could be wonderful or appalling!


MaryAnn (EmilyD1037) If I remember right, her grandmother was Jewish.


John Seymour | 1795 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "says she's Jewish. Perhaps we'll get a "feminist" take on Teresa, which could be wonderful or appalling!"

Who's Jewish - Medwick?


message 8: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 632 comments yes, so I wonder how she can empathize with what motivated Teresa -- in contrast with another saint/hero biography we read not long ago; whose? (showing my age)


John Seymour | 1795 comments Mod
But she clearly does. I am curious where you saw that - it doesn't saw that in my book or in any of the resources I've looked at. Not that it's a problem; just curious.


message 10: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 632 comments last paragraph in the introduction, where she says her background is Jewish, not Catholic


message 11: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Lebak | 44 comments Medwick is Jewish, but she seems to understand and respect Catholicism. I thought the "devout opportunist" quip was a bit tongue in cheek rather than meant satirically.


message 12: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Seymour | 1795 comments Mod
Jane wrote: "Medwick is Jewish, but she seems to understand and respect Catholicism. I thought the "devout opportunist" quip was a bit tongue in cheek rather than meant satirically."

I agree - seen in the light of the rest of the book (I just finished). I also agree, Jane, that she seems to understand and respect Catholicism. I would go further and say that the book is written in a way that respects the truth of Teresa's experiences, indeed seems to present those as truth. Something I would think many non-Catholics might have difficulty with.


message 13: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Lebak | 44 comments She's doing a lot better than the biography of Saint Philip Neri I read a few years back, where the author was profoundly uncomfortable with a) Italians and b) mysticism. I finished the book wondering why the guy had even tried to write about an Italian mystic. Medwick is doing an excellent job, though. I'm on page 67 because I keep getting interrupted, but I'm impressed with how she takes Teresa's experiences, insights, and mysticism at face value without in any way trying to wink-wink at the reader.


message 14: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 632 comments Finished the book a few days ago, slow about posting. But I'd better get to it, as the next selection arrived today!
I found the historic explanations most helpful. When you read Catherine herself, it's often hard to tell what or whom she's talking about. Somehow I hadn't realized what a looming threat the Inquisition was to her (amazing she managed to evade even more suspicion). Nor was I aware of the importance of (not) having Jewish "blood" or background.
I still found all the comings and goings and foundations confusing and her going back and forth between "Calced" and "Discalced" communities (e.g. how could she go back to become superior at Encarnacion), but I guess the latter weren't as distinct as we think of them. I'm also not sure I understand how authority works (worked?) in women's religious orders. They seem to be able to elect their superior--except when the bishop or apostolic visitor or king or mayor...has a different idea! Maybe not "politics" as we think of it, but certainly plenty of intrigue. Amazing Catherine could keep such a level head.

At the beginning, I thought the author was going to make a lot of the almost-erotic dimensions of Catherine's religious fervor, but she's probably correct that the very young saint conflated chivalry with the religious life, especially when she started being "carried away" in ecstasies.

I couldn't keep straight all her various confessors, what she appreciated about each and the differences in how they advised/commanded her.

ironic that her raptures became "public" events; you'd think God could have orchestrated that better!

I don't see how anyone's enjoyment of receiving Christ in communion could be "inordinate", unless we're talking about sentimentalism.

Interesting how her biographers and admirers had to paint her as unwomanly, as if strength of character, determination, etc., are purely "masculine" virtues. Better to have demonstrated how she manifested them in a particularly feminine--and particularly Catherine--way. I do find it odd, though, even disordered, that a woman would be founding men's orders.

The building of hermitages inside convents made me wonder what the convents themselves were like; these were the "Discalced" ones, seems like they would have afforded plenty of quiet/solitude for reflective prayer.

The author seems to accept as natural whatever was believed/practiced at the time, e.g. a sick Catherine "had to" be purged and bled. Maybe that's how she can also talk about the saint's religious experiences so matter-of-factly.

Funny, I always assumed John of the Cross was older than Catherine and her inspiration, seems it was more the other way around.

I don't understand why so many of these convents had incomes or patrons, inevitable sources of conflict and compromise.


message 15: by Manuel (new)

Manuel Alfonseca | 1354 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Finished the book a few days ago, slow about posting. But I'd better get to it, as the next selection arrived today! I found the historic explanations most helpful. When you read Catherine herself,..."

I have not been reading this book, but I wonder why you call Teresa "Catherine." You've done it six times in the comment, so it cannot be a misspelling :-) Is this the name the author of the book uses? Does she explain why?


message 16: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 632 comments pure carelessness on my part, writing too late at night! Apologies!


message 17: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John Seymour | 1795 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "ironic that her raptures became "public" events; you'd think God could have orchestrated that better!
"


While these events appeared to be discomforting to Teresa, I assume God knew what he was doing. :-)


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