Saturday, September 25, 2010

Seventh Mansions: God's Will United with Soul

Once again, I was continually surprised by what I read about the seventh mansions. St. Teresa describes what it is like to live in constant awareness of the union between self and God. She describes this “as if the ends of two wax candles were joined so that the light they give as one,” and also with the image of rain falling on a lake, so that one “cannot separate the water below from that which fell from the heavens.”

In what she calls the “Prayer of Union, “there is unwavering certainty of God and tranquility. The awareness of union with God never leaves. The raptures stop, except for brief occasions and even they do not cause “transportation or flights of spirit” as the soul is grounded in union with Christ. Suffering does not disturb her soul, although there are still trials and grief. St. Teresa describes the “state of forgetfulness” which feels as if the soul never existed. All that is left is “seeking the honor of God.”

St. Teresa explains an experience of feeling self as if divided at times between the Mary and Martha inside. The “Mary” part is always in praise and worship of Jesus and the “Martha” part is doing the work in the world. In the beginning, the Martha part is jealous of the Mary part, but in time, they learn to work together as one.

In the fifth mansions, St. Teresa gave us the example of the silkworm that was transformed into the white butterfly, through the cocoon of Christ. She told us that in the seventh house, we would learn where the butterfly came to rest. I was surprised to learn that the butterfly takes its rest in death. “The little butterfly dies because Christ is now its life.” The soul, so beautifully transformed by the Master in the fifth mansions has now ceased to need to be at all. Instead, St. Teresa speaks of becoming “extremely desirous of serving God,” so that nothing else now matters.

I had expected St. Teresa to talk of unending bliss and ecstasy, desiring from that point forward to lounge around like a Buddha statue. I had expected her to write about losing herself in God, or to somehow become God. She did not. She became more and more fulfilled in who she was as she became immersed with God and her will was laid to rest. Following this “death” the soul rests in eternal life, here and now.

In these chapters, St. Teresa stresses again the importance of humility throughout this process, stating, “Let whichever of you feels surest of herself fear most.” yet, when certainty that the soul is lost in Christ occurs, there can be no more fear.

St. Teresa has been a guide for me in exploring the potential of my soul. She has helped me to appreciate my experiences in life and to feel renewed purpose in living. She writes like a mother to children she cares about deeply, and that emotional presence is strong and steady. It will nurture the growth of any reader if he or she is receptive to it.

The journey has just begun. The consummation of the spiritual marriage “cannot be fulfilled properly in us during our lifetime,” she says.


  1. Whew. Alot of separation in St. Teresa's union with Christ. This is why I think Christian Writings in general are very confusing as "Spiritual Text"....going into metaphor's like butterflies and the cocoon of Christ does seem like in her writing here she was delirious, because it's so alienated from the spirit of the universe, it really has no grounded interpretation that I make out...Why does Christianity talk in such ridiculously complex riddles? Life and death is much more simple and beautiful than this!

  2. She now not only had an emotional illness but she was also delirious. And all because you disagree with her. You can't just disagree, you must belittle. Do tell us how life and death is much more simple and beautiful than a butterfly. All of your comments have been nothing more than mean spirited attacks on people you disagree with. Tell us what the "Truth" is -it shouldn't be hard since it's so simple. If not, you might at least make comments that are reasoned and respectful and not just excuses for venting against people who don't think and do as you.

    If I hadn't read these comments on a computer screen I'd think they were written with a crayon.