Spiritual Marriage

Teresa of Avila: Interior Castle: Seventh Mansions: Chapter Two

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20.21)

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17.20-23)

Teresa continues her discussion of “spiritual marriage” and being “one spirit” with Christ. Spiritual Marriage produces the following effects in our lives:

We gain confidence that our life is in him. “Through some secret aspirations the soul understands clearly that it is God who gives life to our soul. These aspirations come very, very often in such a living way that they can in no way be doubted.” Teresa says these feelings have incredible clarity “even though they are indescribable.”

God nourishes us. This produces spontaneous joy. “But the feeling is so powerful that sometimes the soul cannot avoid the loving expressions they cause, such as: ‘O Life of my life! Sustenance that sustains me!’ and things of this sort.” This nourishment extends to the community of saints: “For from those divine breasts where it seems God is always sustaining the soul there flow streams of milk, bringing comfort to all the people of the castle.”

Our spiritual marriage with Christ results in intimacy for us and blessing to others. This “spiritual marriage” is like the synergy of a healthy marriage that includes intimate connection for the couple, but also blesses the lives of others. Teresa says, “It seems the Lord desires that in some manner these others in the castle may enjoy the great deal the soul is enjoying and that from that full-flowing river, where this tiny fount is swallowed up, a spurt of that water will sometimes be directed toward the sustenance of those who in corporeal things must serve these two who are wed . . . . So it is understood clearly that there is Someone in the interior depths who shoots these arrows and gives life to this life, and that there is a Sun in the interior of the soul from which a brilliant light proceeds and is sent to the faculties.”

Teresa explains when Jesus used the words “Peace be with you.” they were not simply words or best wishes for the disciples, but this peace has power and manifests itself in actual deeds. “For the very One who gave peace to the apostles when they were together can give it to the soul. It has occurred to me that this greeting of the Lord must have amounted to much more than is apparent from its sound. So, too, with the Lord’s words to the glorious Magdalene that she go in peace. Since his words are effected in us as deeds . . .”

Spiritual marriage creates unity. Unity imbues New Testament writing and thinking. It’s the most significant outward expression of what’s happening internally in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Teresa says, “Thus the soul could be joined in this heavenly union with the uncreated Spirit. For it is very certain that in emptying ourselves of all that is creature and detaching ourselves from it for the love of God, the same Lord will fill us with himself. And thus, while Jesus our Lord was once praying for his apostles – I don’t remember where — he said that they were one with the Father and with him, just as Jesus Christ our Lord is in the Father and the Father is in him. I don’t know what greater love there can be than this. And all of us are included here, for His Majesty said: “I ask not only for them but for all those who also will believe in me,” and he says: “I am in them.”


For this post I used a translation of The Interior Castle by Kieran Kavanaugh O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies: Washington D.C. Kindle Edition.

Jesus Follower, Blogger, Public Speaker. Teresaofavilaturns500.wordpress.com

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