And now let us see what becomes of this silkworm, for all that I have been saying about it is leading up to this. When it is in this state of prayer, and quite dead to the world, it comes out a little white butterfly. Oh, the greatness of God, that a soul should come out like this after being hidden in the greatness of God, and closely united with Him, for so short a time–never, I think, for as long as half an hour! . . . The soul . . . has the most vehement desires for penance, for solitude, and for all to know God. And hence, when it sees God offended, it becomes greatly distressed. (Interior Castle: Fifth Mansions: Chapter Two)
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified. (I Corinthians 9.24-27 NRSV)
When we become a “butterfly” six things happen:
- We have “godly sorrow” for our sin and seek reconciliation in broken relationships.
- We desire great trials for God.
- We desire to praise God.
- We desire solitude and time with God.
- We want others to know God.
- We are distressed by things that offend God.
Carl experienced the Prayer of Union and God transformed his life. Carl also had a great zeal for others to know God. While many of his actions were misguided (partly through the influence of religious leaders exploiting his zeal), he had all the traits of repentance, relational healing, and distress over things that offended God. Having little understanding or coaching to develop his initial encounter with God, Carl fell victim to legalistic and consumer approaches to Christianity. Fortunately, Carl is now being renewed in the beauty of the desert and his restoration and training is nearly complete.
Teresa says, “If after God comes to a soul here on earth it strives to progress still more, it will experience great things.” If you’ve encountered God, don’t wait passively for the next experience. Don’t live in actionless regret over getting sidetracked from God. Instead, focus on discipline, perseverance, and progress.
For Silkworms and Butterflies Part I: click here
For Silkworms and Butterflies Part III: click here