The Interior Castle

Exploring a Spiritual Classic as a Modern Reader

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Teresa of Avila was a sixteenth-century Carmelite nun who was committed to a life of contemplative prayer. Beloved for both her deep spiritual insights and practical approach to life, her writings are considered spiritual classics, and The Interior Castle is widely recognized as her literary masterpiece. To read The Interior Castle is to put yourself in the hands of an extraordinarily qualified faith mentor who well understands our struggles to connect with God.Teresa’s primary metaphor throughout this work is that the human soul is an “interior castle,” or a series of “dwelling places,” of great grandeur, beauty, and value. Her book is a tour of the different ways we relate to God through prayer, with varying intensity, awareness, and intimacy, culminating with spiritual unity with God.

Many books on prayer are about what we do to pray, or to pray better. But there are relatively few, like The Interior Castle, that focus on what God does in prayer—particularly the sometimes inexplicable ways God gives us experiences of love, healing, strength, insight, companionship, and knowledge of God’s presence in, and will for, our lives.

In this new edition of The Interior Castle, editor Laurel Mathewson, author of An Intimate Good: A Skeptical Christian Mystic in Conversation with Teresa of Avila, brings this renowned spiritual leader into clear focus for contemporary readers. This edition features a modernized text with an introduction to St. Teresa and her work, brief chapter summaries, helpful footnotes for additional information and clarity, and questions for personal reflection. Mathewson encourages us to be open to the ways in which Teresa’s “experiences and writings still shed light on things that happen in our world, so different from hers in many ways but still filled with human beings struggling to be in relationship with one another and God.”

Laurel Mathewson was born and raised in Oregon, where she received a lasting love for the natural world, rural communities, and social justice. She graduated with honors from Stanford University, where she found her intellectual passion in the intersections of literature and landscape, faith and politics, and social transformation—as well as a life partner in her now-husband, Colin. In her existential and vocational quest after losing her mother to cancer at the age of twenty-one,... Show More
Baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (1515–1582), Teresa of Ávila, was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites, along with John of the Cross. Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal... Show More


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