Oh, and I promise to blog about NOLA this week! Till then...
Answering St. Teresa's Call
Jul 28, 2010
In the midst of illness, Claudia Mair Burney discovered the writings of St. Teresa of Avila, and it was a wakeup call for her soul. Burney, a Christy Award finalist and mother of seven, had been laid low by fibromyalgia and seasonal affective disorder.
"I like to say that St. John of the Cross taught me how to lay my head on the breast of God in my affliction," Burney said. "But it is Teresa who flings open the curtains and says get up out of bed, there is work to be done."
Heeding that call, Burney wrote God Alone Is Enough: A Spirited Journey with Teresa of Avila (Paraclete Press, July), part spiritual biography (Teresa's), spiritual memoir (Burney's), and contemplative prayer how-to.
The book marks Burney's first foray into nonfiction after a string of Christian novels, and it is a title that seeks to make the saints more accessible to non-Catholics—one of Paraclete’s emphases. Burney, whose own spiritual journey has taken her from charismatic evangelicalism to Eastern Orthodoxy and, finally, to Catholicism, says Teresa has a great deal to say to Protestants.
"She says, I am just like you, and I have had times in which it did not seem my prayers got past the ceiling. She says, let's break prayer down into its simplest components and do whatever works for you. That is very liberating to everybody."
It has certainly liberated Burney, who said weaving her own story into the work changed the direction of her writing. "I always wanted to write about my very honest, messy spiritual journey and fortunately for me St. Teresa had a very honest, messy spiritual journey, and we could merge our lives together in this book," Burney said.
Reaction from fans—especially readers of her popular blog, ragamuffindiva.blogspot.com—has been positive, she says.
"Over and over they were saying, it has revolutionized my prayer life, or it is challenging me," said Burney. "So I think Teresa's gift to us is to make God a little more approachable and to make prayer, especially contemplative prayer, attainable."