Books on Carmelite Spirituality


Please recommend some books dealing with Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross.


Dear Epistemes,

One of the best books I have read dealing with Carmelite spirituality within the context of the whole Catholic Spiritual Tradition is The Ordinary Path to Holiness by Thomas Richard.
Many spiritual books are written by Priests or Religious but this Catholic layman writes as a lay person especially for lay persons. He has researched the material and presented the beauty of the spiritual life so that the ordinary person can appreciate the wealth given to us by our Saints. Having read his book, I went back to the Complete works of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross with a clearer understanding of the whole journey.

The author also has a website you may find helpful: Renew the Church

In Christ,


Fr. Thomas Dubay’s “Fire Within” is considered a classic on Sts Teresa and John of the Cross. He ties their teachings in with St Paul and the Gospels nicely.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen’s “Divine Intimacy”. Divine Intimacy is written as a book of meditations.

Fr. Marie Eugene’s two volumes on St. Teresa: I want to see God and I am a Daughter of the Church.

There are some excellent works in Spanish as well. Solo Dios Basta by Herraiz for example.

Hope these help.


Dear eremos,

I read Fr. Dubay’s book, but did not find the same breadth in it that I found in Thomas Richard’s The Ordinary Path to Holiness which I believe places Carmelite Spirituality and the works of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, especially, within the context of the whole spiritual journey.

I did like Fr. Dubay’s insistence on the fact that both Saints wrote essentially what we have in the Gospel; that is, all the saints follow Jesus. If you have a chance to visit the website I gave in my initial post on this thread, look especially on the link to this book and the diagram on the 3 stages of the spiritual life. The journey which the first disciples experienced in following Jesus has been trod by all the saints, and Jesus continues to call us all to holiness.



Carmelite Spirituality is not just found with these two saints.

Check out At the Fountain of Elijah: The Carmelite Tradition by Wilfrid McGreal, O.Carm. and The Carmelite Way: An Ancient Path for Today’s Pilgrim by John Welch, O.Carm. (my prior provincial). I think both are very good introductions to Carmelite Spirituality.


Although Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin doesn’t only talk about Carmelites, it does have quite a bit on St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux and their spirituality. I thought it was a very, very good book.


3 books I have are

The collected works of St John of the Cross which include his works The Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night, The Spiritual Canticle, and the Living Flame of Love (the last is my favourite). Also includes his letters and other counsels.

The Interior Castle by St Teresa of Jesus (Teresa of Avila)

The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself.


I also recommend The Ordinary Path to Holiness, referred to in an above post, and described in a link from this page.

A “contemporary but classic” on the subject of traditional Catholic spirituality, which includes certainly Carmelite spirituality, is: *The 3 Ways of the Spiritual Life *by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. This book is on-line, and can be opened from a link on this page.


Here’s a resource for you:



I also recommend the book written by Fr. John Welch, O.Carm: The Carmelite Way: An Ancient Path for Today’s Pilgrims. It’s great for those who are just getting to know Carmel. Edith Stein also wrote a book called “The Hidden Life” which also touches on Carmelite life and Saints. Both of these books are small in size and will make for good introduction to Carmel’s history and spirituality.


I’m very fond of both:

Teresa of Avila: An Extraordinary Life by Shirley du Boulay


The Eagle and the Dove by Vita Sackville-West (a comparison between St Teresa and St Therese of Lisieux)

A more general meditation on Carmelite spirituality, including chapters on Teresa and John, is:

Land of Carmel by Sr. Elizabeth Obbard


Thanks for the tip. I ordered the book. Are any of you aware of a complete works of St. John of the Cross with commentary. One caveat is that I am not looking for modern dissenting perspectives or perspectives that allow for new-age shallowness (i.e. modern eastern influenced centering prayer etc.). I am looking for a carmelite commentary that comes from believing heart and one who has likewise experienced union with Christ…


**St. Teresa of Avila **
The Life of St. Teresa of Avila:

The Way of Perfection

Interior Castle:

St. John of the Cross
The Living Flame of Love:

Ascent of Mount Carmel:

Dark Night of the Soul:

Spiritual Canticle:

Opus Dei spirituality (St. Josemaria Escriva - only saint I know of with both Mary AND Joseph in his name) is also a spirituality that I find very and highly powerful. I’m not very much advanced in reading his meditations and works, but, thus far, I find it enriching and simple to understand. :stuck_out_tongue:
The Way of the Cross by St. Josemaria Escriva


Dear Lifeisawesome,

I do not think you will be disappointed in what you read in this book. It is solid Catholic theology and the author references Sacred Scripture and The Catechism of the Catholic Church many times throughout. The Ordinary Path to Holiness can be a real blessing to anyone who is either just beginning or is at any stage of the spiritual journey. If you have checked out the author’s website: you may have seen that the author wrote a second book (The Interior Liturgy of the Our Father) which is also influenced by Carmelite spirituality.

Thanks for letting me know that you ordered the book. I look forward to hearing more.

The edition of *The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross *which I use has sufficient (for me) and good commentary before each of his works, plus good biographical notes. It is the ICS 1973 edition translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD.

St. John of the Cross’ works need to be read more than once (in my humble opinion) and pondered prayerfully and slowly. God’s Grace is never lacking to those who ask, seek and knock on the door of His Heart.



Thank you - can I ask if these sites contain any new age or squishy Catholicism? If no, maybe we could link to them from our blog.


If you are interested to read Carmelite Spirituality written by Camelites, check this website:


I’m happy to help. :stuck_out_tongue:

As far as I know, these are the original texts without editing - no commentary (except perhaps a preface) even, just the words of St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Josemaria Escriva themselves. :heart: :heart: :heart: :stuck_out_tongue:

Here are a few others:
True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin
**Secret of the Rosary **
Reflections on True Devotion to Mary by His Holiness Pope John Paul II
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Diary of St. Maria Faustina Divine Mercy in My Soul

Of these, only Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is not written by a canonized saint or pope. (The above three were written by St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort who inspired both His Holiness Pope John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe)

Polish Saint Maximilian Maria studied philosophy, theology, mathematics, and physics as a college student, before earning a doctorate in philosophy and a doctorate in theology in Rome, while suffering from tuberculosis. He became a priest, changed his name to Maria from Kolbe to venerate the Immaculate Heart of Mary, sheltered 2,000 Jews in his friary during the Holocaust, and when taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp offered to die in place of another man since that man had family and he did not as an abstinent friar. During his time in the cell, he led the men in songs and prayer. Finally, after three weeks of dehydration and starvation, he was injected with carbolic acid and died. He is reported on the Jewish Virtual Library as Righteous Among the Nations. It shows that no matter how dire the situation God can continue to strengthen us. founded Slaves of the Immaculata, More information:

Several groups in the United States meet to pray, have fun, and participate in the pro-life cause outside of Church in the Militia of the Immaculata. Youth groups exist as well. and I haven’t been to one yet, sadly, but they sound almost Protestant-like to me despite how deeply rooted they are in Catholic theology because they have a community element in addition to prayer and pro-life activism and they are informal instead of a formal Third Order, Opus Dei membership, Nun, Priest, Friar, or highly structured thing such as Legion of Mary or Knights of Columbus.


These have nothing to do with Carmelite Spirituality.

Just so people are aware, there is much more to Carmelite Spirituality than just Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross.

The above link to ICS publishing is a good one to go too.

Also check out the Carmelite Institute at this link.


Your right. St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort might be considered Marian spirituality, closely associated with Carmelite spirituality given the patronage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the fact that His Holiness Pope John Paul II (the only pope that I know of who was a Carmelite) also embraced this spirituality.

However, I was not bringing up any writings by others besides St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross to say they were Carmelite spirituality but only to provide links to other great and free online spiritualities that might be placed on a website. Perhaps I could have done it in a PM or email instead of a message on this thread but I thought it might be wise to do it in a public reply in case anyone else was interested. For those who were not interested, I am sorry if it is an inconvenience. :o


No problem - thanks for the clarification and the effort!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit