BTP-LOT13 – The Journey of Prayer – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles – Discerning Hearts Podcast

The Journey of Prayer – The Life of St. Teresa of Avila – Beginning to Pray with Dr. Anthony Lilles

Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor discuss chapters 9-11 in St. Teresa’s autobiography. In them, St. Teresa explores the degrees of prayer, moving from ascetical prayer to mystical prayer. She reflects on struggles, the importance of renewing the gift of prayer, and introduces the idea of the prayer of quiet as a mystical gift from God. Dr. Lilles observes she makes use of an analogy to a garden, meant to highlight the transformative journey.

The discussion underscores the boldness and courage required in following the Lord and the need to find a sacred place of prayer, especially in challenging times.

St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle Podcast Anthony Lilles Kris McGregor

For more episodes in this series: The Life of St. Teresa of Avila; with Dr. Anthony Lilles

For an audio version of the book  “The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus” by St. Teresa of Avila

For other audio recordings of various spiritual classics, you can visit the Discerning Hearts Spiritual Classics page.

Discerning Hearts reflection questions for this episode:

  1. Degrees of Prayer: How does St. Teresa of Avila transition from describing her life before conversion to exploring the different degrees of prayer in chapters 9-11?
  2. Struggles in Prayer: What struggles does Teresa face in her prayer life, particularly in chapter 9, and how does she overcome discouragement?
  3. Obedience in Sharing Mystical Prayer: Why does Teresa express reluctance to talk about the mystical prayer of quiet, and how does she connect it to obedience?
  4. Analogies for Prayer: How does Teresa use analogies, such as the garden metaphor, to explain the importance of devotion and personal engagement in prayer?
  5. Transformation in Prayer: Discuss the transformative journey from ascetical prayer to mystical prayer as Teresa introduces the prayer of quiet in chapter 10.
  6. Boldness and Courage: Why is boldness and courage emphasized in the context of following the Lord, drawing parallels with other saints like St. Augustine?
  7. Finding a Sacred Place: In challenging times, why is it crucial, according to Dr. Lilles, to find a sacred place of prayer and trust in God’s love and mercy?

An excerpt from Chapter 11, discussed in this episode:

“I speak now of those who begin to be the servants of love; that seems to me to be nothing else but to resolve to follow Him in the way of prayer, who has loved us so much. It is a dignity so great, that I have a strange joy in thinking of it; for servile fear vanishes at once, if we are, as we ought to be, in the first degree. O Lord of my soul, and my good, how is it that, when a soul is determined to love Thee—doing all it can, by forsaking all things, in order that it may the better occupy itself with the love of God—it is not Thy will it should have the joy of ascending at once to the possession of perfect love? I have spoken amiss; I ought to have said, and my complaint should have been, why is it we do not? for the fault is wholly our own that we do not rejoice at once in a dignity so great, seeing that the attaining to the perfect possession of this true love brings all blessings with it.

We think so much of ourselves, and are so dilatory in giving ourselves wholly to God, that, as His Majesty will not let us have the fruition of that which is so precious but at a great cost, so neither do we perfectly prepare ourselves for it. I see plainly that there is nothing by which so great a good can be procured in this world. If, however, we did what we could, not clinging to anything upon earth, but having all our thoughts and conversation in Heaven, I believe that this blessing would quickly be given us, provided we perfectly prepared ourselves for it at once, as some of the saints have done. We think we are giving all to God; but, in fact, we are offering only the revenue or the produce, while we retain the fee-simple of the land in our own possession.

We resolve to become poor, and it is a resolution of great merit; but we very often take great care not to be in want, not simply of what is necessary, but of what is superfluous: yea, and to make for ourselves friends who may supply us; and in this way we take more pains, and perhaps expose ourselves to greater danger, in order that we may want nothing, than we did formerly, when we had our own possessions in our own power.”

Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is an associate professor and the academic dean of Saint John’s Seminary in Camarillo as well as the academic advisor for Juan Diego House of Priestly Formation for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. For over twenty years he served the Church in Northern Colorado where he joined and eventually served as dean of the founding faculty of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver. Through the years, clergy, seminarians, religious and lay faithful have benefited from his lectures and retreat conferences on the Carmelite Doctors of the Church and the writings of St. Elisabeth of the Trinity.