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TitleA Theology of Friendship
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Durham E-Theses

A theology of friendship

Kerney, Barbara Lee

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A Theology of Friendship

The copyright of this thesis rests with the
author or the university to which it was
submitted. No quotation from it, or
information derived from it may be
published without the prior written
consent of the author or university, and
any information derived from it should be


Barbara Lee Kerney

Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

University College

The University of Durham

Department of Theology and Religion

JUN 2007
Professor David Brown, Supervisor



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Page 129

Avila had its share of reformers. Its most famous was Juan de Avila (1499/1500-

1569) or Maestro Avila, who led an extensive campaign challenging the clergy's

support of the wealthy. He also began to work for relieving the plight of the poor. He

was arrested by the Inquisition for preaching against the rich who tried to buy their

salvation and the clergy who supported these efforts. It eventually acquitted him, and

Maestro Avila went on to make a major contribution to the religious education of the

poor. Before his death he had established fifteen schools to educate young men and

several more to train priests. His spiritual ideals and social reforms went hand in

hand. Throughout his lifetime he refused to neglect the needs of the underclass and

preached salvation for all regardless of social standing.

Maestro Avila's teachings attracted a group of reform-minded clerics and laymen

around the time of Teresa's intense contemplative prayer experiences. Gasper Daza,

an honorary canon in Avila's cathedral, Don Francisco de Salcedo, a relative of

Teresa's, Julian de Avila, who would become Teresa's chaplain and biographer, and

other laymen and priests played crucial roles in the initial efforts to change the moral

life of the city. The reform efforts of these men would have been known at

Encarnacion. Teresa approached Daza and Salcedo for expert advice about her prayer

life. Both expressed anxiety about her supernatural experiences, feared she suffered

from demonic delusions and admitted their inability to help her.
79 Salcedo referred her

to the Jesuits where she found sound spiritual direction but little support at first for

her reform programmes.

Baltasar Alvarez, Teresa's second Jesuit spiritual director, dismissed many of her

prayer experiences and questioned her vision of reform.
Alvarez's caution was

understandable. He was directing Teresa when the Inquisition was taking severe

79 The Life, 23.13.


Page 130

action against those who practiced mental prayer. Mental prayer was suspect because

it was seen as a screen for Protestantism and other forms of heterodoxy. Since

Teresa's prayer life did not conform to the ecclesiastical standards put in place by the

Inquisition, Alvarez hesitated to condone the voices and visions. He had a reputation

for high standards in spiritual direction and was able to protect Teresa and himself

from the eyes and ears of the Inquisition while remaining open to what God was

doing through her mystical experiences.

Frequently Teresa's friendship with Alvarez was difficult and distressing. She was

tempted to leave him because of the rigorous spiritual exercises he demanded from

her. She wrote about this episode in the Life: `Sometimes questions on the one hand

and reproofs on the other utterly exhausted me. But I needed them all, for my will

was not bent to obedience'. 80 In the end Teresa believed it was this young Jesuit

confessor who benefited her spiritual formation, and she became very fond of him.

Alvarez helped Teresa develop the strength to follow the way of the cross for the rest

of her life, `Once the Lord told me that it was no true obedience if I was not

determined to suffer, and that I must fix my eyes on His suffering. Then everything

would become easy'. 81 Because of her likeable personality, Teresa could easily have

found another male spiritual director who would have made life comfortable. She

spoke out against confessors who formed friendships with penitents from noble

families in order to increase their status in the community. Alvarez abided by the

Ignatian rule of retaining one's spiritual liberty and refused to compromise his

standards for spiritual direction with self-serving friendships.

Alvarez even decided that some friendships at Encarnaciön were detrimental to

Teresa's spiritual growth. Teresa disagreed with him and questioned why she should

80 The Life, 26.3.
81 The Life, 26.3.


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