Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Teresa Von Avila. Humanitat Und Glaubensleben

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Teresa Von Avila. Humanitat Und Glaubensleben

Article excerpt

Teresa von Avila. Humanitat und Glaubensleben. By Jutta Burggraf. (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh Verlag. 1996. Pp. 510. DM 88,-.)

The author of this extraordinary book-"Teresa of Avila-Humanness and the Life of Faith"-has invested all of her erudition and experience in examining the life and spirituality of the Carmelite foundress with particular emphasis on her human qualities and the interaction between her personality and her deep faith. In her introduction, Burggraf states that the human being has an innate dignity due, she says, to our theomorphic dimension. That we are created in the image of God may be indemonstrable, but it can be clearly discerned when the human being engages in loving relationship with other human beings. God is love, and so when man or woman acts out of love, the God-image is most perceptible.

This acting out of love-humanitas as a concept-appears in the later books of the Old Testament but more so in the New Testament. The more one is like God, the more one is truly human. A concept gains credibility when it is studied through the human relationship of a celebrated person especially as expressed in word and action. In Teresa of Avila we have that familiar person who has a reputation for extensive relationships in which her faith and her love interact. Her human foibles or failings are not ignored, nor are they exaggerated. Attention is paid to the positive attitude of the saint for human values and the development of the personality. To treat Teresa justly one has to honor her individual humanness to which belong limits and weaknesses as well as strength and finally, the victory of divine grace.

Burggraf examines first what Teresa means to say and recount when setting up her "way of perfection" and, second, what she inadvertently reveals of her personality in dealing with contemporaries while herself walking that "way. …

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