Teresa of Avila’s theology offers an elevated, enticing vision of the human capacity for God. At the outset of The Interior Castle, she wrote: “It is a shame and unfortunate that through our own fault we don’t understand ourselves or know who we are—that is loved by God.” Spiritual self-knowledge includes both positive and negative qualities. It does not mean simply gathering information about ourselves, but seeing ourselves truly in the light of God which brings about humility, repentance, and joy.
Although Teresa had extraordinary experiences of God, she taught that ordinary prayer, like an intimate conversation with a friend, was available to all. All that was necessary was to bring one’s full self to God, in weakness as well as strength. Teresa also valued the Eucharist when Christ comes close in the eating and drinking of his body and blood. Her deep desire, and one of the reasons she wrote theology, was to convince her readers of this truth and embolden them to open themselves to this destiny.
—from Accidental Theologians: Four Women Who Shaped Christianity by Elizabeth Dreyer