Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: The Four Teresas: Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisiuex, Teresa Benedicta and Mother Teresa

I love to read books and give my personal, unedited and not always charitable opinion on said literary work.  Some of these books come to me free with the promise of posting a review (good, bad or indifferent, these publishers or store owners just want to get a review out there) ... while others I bought or borrowed and feel called upon to review.

This particular book by FUS alumna, Gina Loehr, is one of those that was sent free for a review.  Well, did I hit the jackpot on this one!  Titled The Four Teresas, this book is part biography, poor spiritual reflection, and part catechesis all rolled into one.  The book's theme links the four Teresas with Jesus's two greatest commandments (as noted in Matthew 22: 37-39): 
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Loehr takes this scripture passage, explaining just how to live this command from the Lord, by detailing the lives of four Catholic holy women:
  1. Therese of Lisieux as a prime example of loving God with all your heart
  2. Teresa of Avila as a prime example of loving God with all your soul
  3. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) as a prime example of loving God with all your mind
  4. Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a prime example of loving your neighbor as yourself
Loehr gives a wonderfully complete biography of each of these wonderful role models.  Than she links their spirituality, life and works to the part of Jesus's commandment.  And finishes the section with a reflection on how we, today, in whatever walk of life can emulate these ladies.  She shows where the saints had failings ... just like we do ... but how they took those failings and fulfilled, joyfully and completely, God's will for each.

An interesting side-note is that all four Teresas are linked not only in name, but also in spiritual chrism (three were Carmelites and the fourth, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, credited St. Teresa of Avila for her vocation and how she carried it out), and in fighting for what they believed to be God's will.  They were strong women ... willing to buck society and family to do what they knew was right.

This is a book that I'll turn to again and again for inspiration when I'm feeling the need for some spiritual sustenance.  Loehr's writing is accessible and makes the lives of these amazing women seem accessible to one and all.  I highly recommend this one!

This book was sent as part of The Catholic Company's review program.  I was required to write a review, but all comments above are my own honest opinions of the work reviewed.  For further information about The Four Teresas or to puchase a copy, please see The Catholic Company's website.

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