The Catholic spiritual tradition has defined three categories reflecting particular degrees of spiritual advancement. These are 1) The Purgative Way; 2) The Illuminative Way; 3) The Unitive Way. To begin, let’s enlist the help of St. Teresa of Avila and her analogy of a gardener cultivating a garden that the Lord will find pleasing.
St. Teresa of Avila
Diet, so I’ve heard countless times, is more important than exercise. While we need mental prayer to tone ourselves and strengthen our resolve, we have to feed ourselves a balanced diet of the Word of God and put it into practice, so we absorb and retain all its nutrients.
“Perhaps we do not know what love is: it would not surprise me a great deal to learn this, for love consists, not in the extent of happiness, but in the firmness of our determination to try to please God in everything”— St. Teresa of Avila
This podcast explores the first discipline of Lent: prayer. It discusses the first degree of prayer in the Catholic spiritual tradition, the way of beginners, aka., the purgative stage. St. Teresa of Avila, the great Doctor of Prayer, utilizes an analogy of a garden in order to illustrate how to advance in prayer and the love of God.
St. Teresa teaches us above all that the goal of the human person is union with Divine Beauty: our loving and wondrous God and Father. It is only in and through and with God that we can attain perfect happiness, human fulfillment and total completion. In fact, without God, as she so often emphasizes, we have nothing and are nothing. However, he who has God possesses everything. St. Teresa proclaims: God alone suffices!