Recent Posts

Friday, 22 August 2014

Perfection Series IV: Part Sixteen; The Fifth Mansions of Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa of Avila puts the Unitive State at the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Mansions, the highest being ecstasy and the Spiritual Marriage. I have written about the Spiritual Marriage several times on this blog, and refer you to these posts:

18 Jul 2012
To you, young people, I say: if you hear the Lord's call, do not reject it! Dare to become part of the great movements of holiness which renowned saints have launched in their following of Christ. Cultivate the ideals proper to ...
25 May 2013
There are several saints, and some not yet canonized women, who had experienced the mystical marriage with Christ. Here are some. But, does one have to be named Catherine, I wonder? Seriously, I place an incomplete ...
11 Nov 2013
Moving out of the Dark Night is noted by St. John of the Cross as the time of betrothal of the spiritual marriage. He is clear that the long Dark Night purges one of the smallest imperfections, so that one is emptied of evil. A new ...
25 May 2013
This favour does not of itself produce an alienation of the senses; ecstasies are more rare. Nor does this permanent sense of God's presence suffice to constitute the spiritual marriage, but is only a state somewhat near to it.
Also, under St. Catherine of Siena, there are many, many posts on the Mystical Marriage.
I do not need to concentrate on that aspect of the Unitive State, which is also covered in St. Bernard's sermons on The Songs of Songs.

 However, it is worth looking at the state just before that of the Mystical Marriage in order to understand the Unitive State. Now, Garrigou-Lagrange is the most comprehensive writer on this stage, so I shall return to him later.

But, here is Teresa in her own words on the Fifth Mansion. For me, the key is understanding that God takes the initiative totally at this stage.

St Catherine of Siena and The Christ Child
 Teresa makes it clear Who is now in charge of the person in the Unitive State.

 Concerning my words: ‘We can do nothing on our own part,’ I was struck by the words of the Bride in the Canticles, which you will remember to have heard: ’The King brought me into the cellar of wine,’170  (or ‘placed me’ I think she says): she does not say she went of her own accord, 128although telling us how she wandered up and down seeking her Beloved.171  I think the prayer of union is the ‘cellar’ in which our Lord places us when and how He chooses, but we cannot enter it through any effort of our own. His Majesty alone can bring us there and come into the centre of our souls. In order to declare His wondrous works more clearly, He will leave us no share in them except complete conformity of our wills to His and abandonment of all things: He does not require the faculties or senses to open the door to Him; they are all asleep. He enters the innermost depths of our souls without a door, as He entered the room where the disciples sat, saying ‘Pax vobis,’172  and as He emerged from the sepulchre without removing the stone that closed the entrance. You will see farther on, in the seventh mansion, far better than here, how God makes the soul enjoy His presence in its very centre. O daughters, what wonders shall we see, if we keep ever before our eyes our own baseness and frailty and recognize how unworthy we are to be the handmaids of so great a Lord, Whose marvels are beyond our comprehension! May He be for ever praised! Amen. 

This gift of being taken up into Christ is a foreshadowing of our life in heaven where we shall experience the Beatific Vision. As one can see, Teresa of Avila's description is quite discursive.

To be continued.....