Sixth Mansions: Chapter Four
Teresa tends to digress from her topics. I usually follow her digressions. I’m also prone to digressions which means, at times, I’m digressing from the digression. So as Teresa says, “Without realizing it, I have strayed far from my theme.”
We are in Chapter Four of the Sixth Mansions. Teresa uses the marriage customs of her day to explain Unitive Prayer (i.e. becoming one with Christ). This includes:
- Brief Meetings: A time in which we see our future Spouse. (Fifth Mansion)
- Betrothal Period: The promise to marry. Learning to love Christ. (Sixth Mansion)
- Marriage: Union with Christ. (Seventh Mansion)
Teresa says the Betrothal Period can include “raptures of the soul” or “ecstasies”. She says these raptures “carry the soul out of its senses”. And even though we’re carried out of our senses, “the soul has never before been so fully awake to the things of God or had such light or such knowledge of His Majesty.” Teresa describes these raptures as a “state of suspension” in which our faculties and senses are “dead”. Yet, we receive great light, knowledge, and understanding as He reveals “certain mysteries” to us. Imaginative Visions and Intellectual Visions are a couple ways God reveals these mysteries to us.
Raptures, Ecstasies, and Spiritual Progress
By the time we reach the Sixth Mansions we most likely desire to follow Christ into a deeper relationship with Him, but lack the courage to do so. Teresa says, “I must warn you that there is more need of courage than you imagine, because our nature is very timid and lowly for so great an undertaking”. Through these “raptures” we receive a vision or an experience of God that we cannot understand by our five senses. These visions or experiences overcome obstacles to spiritual growth and give us greater courage to follow Christ into a deeper relationship.
Alone with God
Teresa says our “Spouse” desires “to enrapture the soul”. He “orders the doors of the Mansions to be shut, and even those of the Castle (our souls)”. We are alone with God. Teresa says the soul “is fully awake, while asleep as regards all that concerns attachment to any creature.” These raptures can also have powerful physical effects for short period of time as God gives “fuller life to the soul”.
Passion for God
When the soul “comes to itself again” it desires “to be used for God in any and every way in which He may be pleased to employ it! . . . Such a soul would gladly have a thousand lives so as to use them all for God, and it would like everything on earth to be a tongue so that it might praise Him.” The soul’s love for God “is so strong that it feels everything it does to be of very small account” and sometimes even suffering becomes a trivial matter.
Do you remember a time of ecstasy with God? You may now look back and think it was simply an emotional experience and wonder if God was really involved. Maybe the experience was real but you were without a wise guide or insightful spiritual community to help you sort through these matters. Maybe you’ve lost your way spiritually. But now, like the Phoenix, it is time to rise from the ashes and soar again.
It’s important that we not chase after spiritual experiences and become caught up in our own emotions or someone else’s agenda. Wisdom and discernment are essential. For further reading on authenticating spiritual experiences: https://teresaofavilaturns500.wordpress.com/category/6th-mansions-chapter-3/