The Interior Castle: Sixth Mansions: Chapter Four
The Rapture of the Soul
Teresa says, “One kind of rapture is this.” The soul is “not actually engaged in prayer” but “is struck by some word, which it either remembers or hears spoken by God.” This typically happens during a period of spiritual dryness or suffering. The soul is yearning for God and He “is moved with compassion”. Then, Teresa says, we become like the phoenix that “catches fire and springs into new life.” She says, the soul is cleansed and “God unites it with Himself, in a way which none can understand save it and He”.
The early church adapted the story of the phoenix as a metaphor for renewal or rebirth. The phoenix is a mythical bird that lived in the Arabian Desert for 500 years — then it sets itself on fire. Later the Phoenix rises from the ashes to new life. In Teresa’s book: The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, she says: This spark “seems to burn up the old man, with his faults, his lukewarmness, and misery; so that it is like the phoenix, of which I have read that it comes forth, after being burnt, out of its own ashes into a new life. Thus it is with the soul: it is changed into another, whose desires are different, and whose strength is great. It seems to be no longer what it was before, and begins to walk renewed in purity in the ways of our Lord.”
Maybe you’re experiencing a time of dryness, suffering, or confusion. You can be renewed. Or maybe you’re watching the life of someone you care about collapse. I encourage you to have confidence in God’s power to renew his or her life.
Listen for His word. Rise from the ashes. Spring to new life. And soar once again — like the phoenix.
Have you not known? Have you not
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
but those who wait for the LORD shall
renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40)