Thursday, January 17, 2013

Spiritual Direction with St. Teresa of Jesus

Photo: R. Massaro (c) 2013 Spirit Singing
 In this excerpt from the Spiritual Testimonies of St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila), she gives a lesson on the stages of prayer that we can continue for a number of posts. In this first post we begin with her explanation of the prayer of recollection, then moving on to the prayer of simple union. The prayer of recollection can be considered to be on the borderline of natural and supernatural prayer. Supernatural recollection is the gift of prayer given by God after one has been faithful to vocal prayer and meditation. Please keep in mind that infused prayer is a total gift from God, it is not the result of our human effort (using the intellect, the memory, the will and the imagination). These powers of the soul are suspended by God, whereby, prayer is experienced as effortless on our part.

The degrees of infused prayer according to St. Teresa of Jesus:
The first prayer I experienced that in my opinion was supernatural ( a term I use for what cannot be acquired by effort or diligence, however much one tries, although one can dispose oneself for it which would help a great deal) is an interior recollection felt in the soul. For it appears that just as the soul has exterior senses it also has other interior senses through which it seems to want to withdraw within, away from the outside noise...In this state none of the senses or faculties are lost, for all are left intact. But they are left that way so that the soul may be occupied in God. And this explanation will be easy to understand for anyone to whom the Lord has granted this prayer; and for those to whom He has not, there will be need at least for many words and comparisons.

Photo: R. Massaro (C)2013 Spirit Singing
 A very pleasing interior quiet and peace sometimes flow from this recollection, so that it doesn't seem to the soul it is lacking anything. Even speaking tires it, I mean reciting vocal prayer and meditating. All it wants is to love. This quiet lasts a short while, and even a longer while.

From this prayer there usually proceeds what is called a sleep of the faculties, for they are neither absorbed nor so suspended that the prayer can be called a rapture. Although this prayer is not complete union...

When there is union of all the faculties, things are very different because none of them is able to function. The intellect is as though in awe; the will loves more than it understands...there is no memory at all, and in my opinion, nor thought; nor even during that time are the senses awake, but they are as though lost, that the soul might be more occupied in what it enjoys. This union passes quickly. In my opinion, if this experience is authentic, it is the greatest favor our Lord grants along this spiritual path...

To be continued...

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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