Monthly Archives: February 2014

Book Chapter: Teresa of Avila’s Evolving Practices of ‘Representing’ Christ in Prayer by Mary Frohlich

Appearing in Meditation in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Cultural Histories, a volume of essays edited by Halvor Eifring (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), Mary Frohlich’s essay describes the various forms of prayer found in Teresa’s writings and how Teresa eventually developed “a far more holistic and integrated understanding of the life of prayer.” Here’s an excerpt from the essay’s first section:

. . . Teresa limits [the term meditation] to active, linear, intellectual reflection on the teachings and ‘mysteries’ of her religious faith. Although she recommends it as a necessary practice for beginners and even at times for the more advanced, she strongly emphasizes that it is superficial in relation to the forms of prayer that she is most interested in teaching.

Teresa’s term for the entire range of spiritual practices is ‘prayer’ (oración). Prayer may be vocal, mental or contemplative, discursive, imagistic or with all faculties ‘suspended’; petitionary, laudatory, devotional or mystical, to name only a few of the elements that she distinguishes. Prayer for Teresa is also a state of being, for she frequently uses the phrase ‘in prayer’ (en oración) to refer to a state within which various experiences occur. The remainder of this chapter will examine in detail what she teaches about the state and practice of prayer.

Article: “A Grace of Sense” by Mark S. Burrows

In the Fall 2013 issue of Spiritus, a short essay by Mark Burrows (the Poetry Editor of Spiritus) introduces six short pieces on poetry and spirituality. Here’s an excerpt from his essay:

The idea for this symposium originated several years ago out of conversations I had with the journal’s editor, Douglas Christie. As long-time readers of Spiritus will know, most issues of the journal, from its inception more than a decade ago, have included contributions by contemporary poets. That decision seems appropriate, at least in terms of the range of poems we have published and the generous sense of spirituality that shapes this journal’s identity. But while the presence of poems as “primary texts” in the wider horizon of spiritual literature illumines this connection, and the use of poetry by authors of essays that have found their way to these pages has not been infrequent, this symposium is a new feature for the journal: it is the first time we have invited artists to help us understand the relation of “Word and Spirit,” generally understood, in this case by inviting their reflections on the ways that spirituality informs their poetry. Here, then, is the fruit of their creative efforts in response to our query.