Jennifer MOORCROFT, God is All Joy: The Life of St. Teresa of the Andes. Washington DC: ICS Publications, 2009. pp. 163. ISBN 978-0-935216-42-4. $12.95 pb..
Reviewed by Jason Paul BOURGEOIS, Quincy University, Quincy IL 62301

Moorcroft’s book examines the life and spirituality of St. Teresa of the Andes, a young Discalced Carmelite nun who died at the age of 19 in the Carmel of Los Andes in Chile, and was canonized by John Paul II in 1993. It is a straightforward and simply written biography, with the first nine chapters discussing her home and family life, school days, and struggles to discern her vocation to Carmel, and the remaining nine chapters discussing her entrance into Carmel and her life there, her early death, and her subsequent canonization. The author gives minimal commentary or historical context, choosing instead simply to tell the story of the life of St. Teresa of the Andes by recounting events in their chronological order and interspersing them with beautiful selections from the spiritual writings of the saint, namely her diary and collected letters.

During the course of telling the story of St. Teresa of the Andes, the book presents a favorable description of some of the themes of Discalced Carmelite spirituality, including abandonment to the divine will, intense love for Christ, contemplative prayer, and penitential sacrifices offered for priests and for the salvation of souls. St. Teresa of the Andes is presented as a worthy companion of her previous namesakes in the Discalced Carmelite order (namely St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux), and there is a special emphasis in the book on her unique spirituality of joy in the presence of God even during the “dark night of the soul.” The book is written more for a general than an academic audience, but is highly recommended for any who are interested in Carmelite spirituality or who desire an introduction to the life of this remarkable young saint.

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