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TREATS OF THE SUBLIME FAVOURS GOD BESTOWS ON SOULS WHICH HAVE ENTERED THE SEVENTH MANSIONS. THE AUTHOR SHOWS THE DIFFERENCE SHE BELIEVES TO EXIST BETWEEN SOUL AND SPIRIT ALTHOUGH THEY ARE BOTH ONE. THIS CHAPTER CONTAINS SOME NOTEWORTHY THINGS.
1. Sublime mysteries of these mansions. 2. St. Teresa abashed at treating such subjects. 3. Our Lord introduces His bride into His presence chamber. 4. Darkness of a soul in mortal sin. 5. Intercession for sinners. 6. The soul an interior world. 7. The spiritual nuptials. 8. Former favours differ from spiritual nuptials. 9. The Blessed Trinity revealed to the soul. 10. Permanence of Its presence in the soul. 11. The effects. 12. This presence is not always equally realized. 13. It is beyond the soul’s control. 14. The centre of the soul remains calm. 15. The soul and the spirit distinct though united. 16. The soul and its faculties not identical.
1. You may think, sisters, that so much has been said of this spiritual journey that nothing remains to be added. That would be a great mistake: God’s immensity has no limits, neither have His works; therefore, who can recount His mercies and His greatness?392392Ps. cxliv. 3: ‘Magnitudinis ejus non est finis.’ It is impossible, so do not be amazed at what I write about them which is but a cipher of what remains untold concerning God. He has shown great mercy in communicating these mysteries 262to one who could recount them to us, for as we learn more of His intercourse with creatures, we ought to praise Him more fervently and to esteem more highly the soul in which He so delights. Each of us possesses a soul but we do not realize its value as made in the image of God, therefore we fail to understand the important secrets it contains. May His Majesty be pleased to guide my pen and to teach me to say somewhat of the much there is to tell of His revelations to the souls He leads into this mansion. I have begged Him earnestly to help me, since He sees that my object is to reveal His mercies for the praise and glory of His name. I hope He will grant this favour, if not for my own sake, at least for yours, sisters—so that you may discover how vital it is for you to put no obstacle in the way of the Spiritual Marriage of the Bridegroom with your soul which brings, as you will learn, such signal blessings with it.
2. O great God! surely such a miserable creature as myself should tremble at the thought of speaking on such a subject so far beyond anything I deserve to understand. Indeed I felt abashed and doubted whether it would not be better to finish writing about this Mansion in a few words, lest people might imagine that I am recounting my personal experience. I was overwhelmed with shame for, knowing what I am, it is a terrible undertaking. On the other hand, this fear seemed but a temptation and weakness: even if I should be misjudged, so long as God is but a little better praised and known, let all the world revile me. 263 Besides, I may be dead before this book is seen. May He Who lives and shall live to all eternity be praised! Amen.
3. When our Lord is pleased to take pity on the sufferings, both past and present, endured through her longing for Him by this soul which He has spiritually taken for His bride, He, before consummating the celestial marriage, brings her into this His mansion or presence chamber. This is the seventh Mansion, for as He has a dwelling-place in heaven, so has He in the soul, where none but He may abide and which may be termed a second heaven.
4. It is important, sisters, that we should not fancy the soul to be in darkness. As we are accustomed to believe there is no light but that which is exterior, we imagine that the soul is wrapt in obscurity. This is indeed the case with a soul out of the state of grace,393393See the Saint’s description of a soul in the state of sin, Rel, iii. 13. (towards the end). not, however, through any defer in the Sun of Justice which remains within it and gives it being, but the soul itself is incapable of receiving the light, as I think I said in speaking of the first Mansion.394394Supra, M. i, ch. ii. 1. A certain person was given to understand that such unfortunate souls are, as it were, imprisoned in a gloomy dungeon, chained hand and foot and unable to perform any meritorious action: they are also both blind and dumb. Well may we pity them when we reflect that we ourselves were once in the same state and that God may show them mercy also.
2645. Let us, then, sisters, be most zealous in interceding for them and never neglect it. To pray for a soul in mortal sin is a far more profitable form of almsgiving than it would be to help a Christian whom we saw with hands strongly fettered behind his back, tied to a post and dying of hunger—not for want of food, because plenty of the choicest delicacies lay near him, but because he was unable to put them into his mouth, although he was extremely exhausted and on the point of dying, and that not a temporal death, but an eternal one. Would it not be extremely cruel of us to stand looking at him, and give him nothing to eat? What if by your prayers you could loose his bonds? Now you understand.
6. For the love of God I implore you constantly to remember in your prayers souls in a like case. We are not speaking now of them but of others who, by the mercy of God, have done penance for their sins and are in a state of grace. You must not think of the soul as insignificant and petty but as an interior world containing the number of beautiful mansions you have seen; as indeed it should, since in the centre of the soul there is a mansion reserved for God Himself.
7. When His Majesty deigns to bestow on the soul the grace of these divine nuptials, He brings it into His presence chamber and does not treat it as before, when He put it into a trance. I believe He then united it to Himself, as also during the prayer of union; but then only the superior part was affected and the soul did not feel called to 265enter its own centre as it does in this mansion. Here it matters little whether it is in the one way or the other.
8. In the former favours our Lord unites the spirit to Himself and makes it both blind and dumb like St. Paul after his conversion,395395Acts ix. 8: ‘Surrexit autem Saulus de terra, apertisque oculis nihil videbat.’ There is, however, nothing to imply that he was dumb as well as blind. thus preventing its knowing whence or how it enjoys this grace, for the supreme delight of the spirit is to realize its nearness to God. During the actual moment of divine union the soul feels nothing, all its powers being entirely lost. But now He acts differently: our pitiful God removes the scales from its eyes396396Acts ix. 18: ‘Et confestim ceciderunt ab oculis ejus tamquam squamæ, et visum recepit.’ Way of Perf.. ch. xxviii. 11. letting it see and understand somewhat of the grace received in a strange and wonderful manner in this mansion by means of intellectual vision.
By some mysterious manifestation of the truth, the three Persons of the most
Blessed Trinity reveal themselves, preceded by an illumination which shines on
the spirit like a most dazzling cloud of light.397397 Rel. iii. 6; v. 6-8; viii. 20, 21; ix. 12, 17, 19. Deposition by
Fr. Giles Gonzalez, S.J., Provincial of Old Castile, afterwards
Assistant—General in Rome: ‘While the holy Mother lived at the convent of the
Incarnation of Avila [as prioress], I often spoke with her, and once I remember
she asked me: “What am I to do, Father? Whenever I recollect myself I
realize that already in this life the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity may
be seen, and that They accompany me and assist me in the management of my
affairs.”’ (Fuente, Obras, vol.
vi. p. 280.)
’Doña Maria Enriquez, Duchess of Alva, said that St. Teresa made known to her many revelations she had received from our Lord, and that she (the duchess) held in her possession three paintings of the Blessed Trinity made according to the description of the holy Mother, who, while they were being done, effaced with her own hand those portions which the painter failed to design conformably to the vision she had had.’ (Fuente, l.c. p. 297.) The three Persons are distinct from one 266another; a sublime knowledge is infused into the soul, imbuing it with a certainty of the truth that the Three are of one substance, power, and knowledge and are one God. Thus that which we hold as a doctrine of faith, the soul now, so to speak, understands by sight, though it beholds the Blessed Trinity neither by the eyes of the body nor of the soul, this being no imaginary vision. All the Three Persons here communicate Themselves to the soul, speak to it and make it understand the words of our Lord in the Gospel that He and the Father and the Holy Ghost will come and make their abode with the soul which loves Him and keeps His commandments.398398St. John xiv. 23: ‘Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit, et Pater meus diliget eum, et ad eum veniemus, et mansionem apud eum faciemus.’
10. O my God, how different from merely hearing and believing these words is it to realize their truth in this way! Day by day a growing astonishment takes possession of this soul, for the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity seem never to depart; it sees with certainty, in the way I have described, that They dwell far within its own centre and depths; though for want of learning it cannot describe how, it is conscious of the indwelling of these divine Companions.
11. You may fancy that such a person is beside herself and that her mind is too inebriated to care for anything else. On the contrary, she is far more 267active than before in all that concerns God’s service, and when at leisure she enjoys this blessed companionship. Unless she first deserts God, I believe He will never cease to make her clearly sensible of His presence: she feels confident, as indeed she may, that He will never so fail her as to allow her to lose this favour after once bestowing it; at the same time, she is more careful than before to avoid offending Him in any way.
12. This presence is not always so entirely realized, that is, so distinctly manifest, as at first, or as it is at times when God renews this favour, otherwise the recipient could not possibly attend to anything else nor live in society. Although not always seen by so clear a light, yet whenever she reflects on it she feels the companionship of the Blessed Trinity. This is as if, when we were with other people in a very well lighted room, some one were to darken it by closing the shutters; we should feel certain that the others were still there, though we were unable to see them.399399One of the Saint’s favourite comparisons. See Life, ch. xxvii. 7. Castle, M. vi. ch. viii. 3. Rel. vii. 26.
13. You may ask: ‘Could she not bring back the light and see them again?’400400’Though the soul be always in the high estate of marriage since God has placed it there, nevertheless, actual union in all its powers is not continuous, though the substantial union is. In this substantial union the powers of the soul are most frequently in union, and drink of His cellar, the understanding by knowledge, the will by love, etc. We are not therefore to suppose that the soul, when saying it went out, has ceased from its substantial or essential union with God, but only from the union of its faculties, which is not, and cannot be, permanent in this life.’ (St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, stanza xxvi. 9. On the words: ‘In the inner cellar of my Beloved have I drunk, and when I went forth’). This is not in her 268power; when our Lord chooses, He will open the shutters of the understanding: He shows her great mercy in never quitting her and in making her realize it so clearly. His divine Majesty seems to be preparing His bride for greater things by this divine companionship which clearly helps perfection in every way and makes her lose the fear she sometimes felt when other graces were granted her.
14. A certain person so favoured found she had improved in all virtues: whatever were her trials or labours, the centre of her soul seemed never moved from its resting-place. Thus in a manner her soul appeared divided: a short time after God had done her this favour, while undergoing great sufferings, she complained of her soul as Martha did of Mary,401401St. Luke x. 40. Excl. v. 2, 3. Way of Perf. ch. xv. 4; xxxi. 4. Rel. viii. 6. Concept. ch. vii. 4. reproaching it with enjoying solitary peace while leaving her so full of troubles and occupations that she could not keep it company.
15. This may seem extravagant to you, daughters, yet though the soul is known to be undivided, it is fact and no fancy and often happens. Interior effects show for certain that there is a positive difference between the soul and the spirit, although they are one with each other.402402Life, ch. xviii. 4. The distinction between soul and spirit, to be found in the Epistle to the Hebrews, iv. 12, according to Cornelius a Lapide (ad loc.) consists in this, that the term soul comprises the faculties, senses, and passions, whereas the term spirit denotes the substance of the soul independently of its powers. In the inferior degrees of the Mystical life God operates through the faculties, while in the Mystical marriage He acts directly on the substance of the soul. St. Teresa is not quite consistent in the use of these terms, which is not surprising, as she owns that she does not quite understand this subtle distinction. There is an extremely 269subtle distinction between them, so that sometimes they seem to at in a different manner from one another, as does the knowledge given to them by God.
16. It also appears to me that the soul and its faculties are not identical. There are so many and such transcendental mysteries within us, that it would be presumption for me to attempt to explain them. If by God’s mercy we enter heaven we shall understand these secrets.
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