BY Fr Thomas Dubay
Chapter 6 The Teresian Mansions
Building upon what has already been detailed regarding vocal, meditative, and contemplative prayer we shall here summarise Fr Dubay’s treatment of the Teresian mansions which, while describing the whole progression of the spiritual life from initial conversion to the transforming union, this progress is recognized primarily by participation in deeper and deeper prayer.
St .Teresa’s famous treatment of the spiritual life is built around a received image “of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of a very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions”. (IC, mans. 1, chap. 1, p. 28.) She elaborates:
You must not imagine these mansions as arranged in a row, one behind another, but fix your attention on the centre, the room or palace occupied by the King. Think of a palmito, which has many outer rinds surrounding the savoury part within, all of which must be taken away before the center can be eaten. Just so around this central room are many more, as there also are above it. In speaking of the soul we must always think of it as spacious, ample and lofty; and this can be done without the least exaggeration, for the soul’s capacity is much greater than we can realize, and this Sun Which is in the palace, reaches every part of it. (IC, mans. 1, chap. 1, p. 37. See also Way, chap. 28, pp. 187-88; KR, no. 9, pp. 143-44.) (p.79)
Progress in the spiritual life, growth in prayer, is drawing closer to this divine Sun at the soul’s center, the source of its life and splendour.
Before we begin: we must note that the divisions here made are not wholly distinct and perceptible. Rather “There is no closed door”, says St. Teresa, “to separate the one from the other”, even though the latter does have characteristics not found in the former. (IC, mans. 6, chap. 4, p. 150) (p. 80)
First Mansions (First Water)
From the beginning of the devout life we find an essential element for founding and growing a prayer life: “an earnest, continuing effort to rid oneself of sins, imperfections and attachments.” This we shall hear repeatedly: the life of selfless virtue and the life of prayer are dynamic with one mutual end. Love of God and love of neighbour grow together or not at all. (cf. 1 Jn, 4:20) “Christic [Christ centered] communion cannot be produced by techniques, because it is above all a love matter before it is anything else— and precisely because interpersonal intimacy is its heart, it is suffocated, even killed, by selfishness in any form.” (p. 81)
“While, in her mind, procedures in prayer are clearly secondary, they do have their proper place for beginners.” (p. 82)
“If you would progress a long way on this road and ascend to the Mansions of your desire, the important thing is not to think much, but to love much.” (IC, mans. 4, chap. 1, p. 76.)
Whether a soul engages in vocal prayer or mental prayer is not so important as long as the prayer is fleshed with love, for “If a person does not think Whom he is addressing, and what he is asking for, and who it is that is asking and of Whom he is asking it, I do not consider that he is praying at all even though he be constantly moving his lips.” (IC, mans. 4, chap. 1, p. 32.) Mere rote recitation is not prayer and will not help here. (p. 76)
What advice she does give is to inspire this love in prayer through:
- Active recollection: placing ourselves imaginatively in the presence of Our Lord and Teacher. By this she means that anyone who is serious about a prayer life must work hard and perseveringly to gather himself together, to still the wanderings of his mind and the restlessness of his heart. He does not simply kneel or sit down and hope something will happen. …One begins with self-examination and the sign of the Cross. “Imagine that this Lord Himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly He is teaching you.”(Way, chap. 26, p. 173) She explains that she is not asking the nuns to work at elaborate meditations “but only to look at Him. . . . He is only waiting for us to look at Him. If you want Him you will find Him.” (Way, chap. 26, p. 174) We may picture the Lord in any of His mysteries, but Teresa prefers some scene of the Passion. She is so concrete that she goes on to advise her nuns to “get an image or picture of this Lord —one that you like—not to wear around your neck and never look at but to use regularly whenever you talk to Him, and He will tell you what to say” (Way, chap. 26, p. 177)… Focusing on the indwelling presence, says Teresa, is for wandering minds “one of the best ways of concentrating the mind” in prayer. (Way, chap. 28, p. 183) She promises great things to those who do so: (p. 77)
Those who are able to shut themselves up in this way within this little Heaven of the soul, wherein dwells the Maker of Heaven and earth, and who have formed the habit of looking at nothing and staying in no place which will distract these outward senses, may be sure that they are walking on an excellent road, and will come without fail to drink of the water of the fountain, for they will journey a long way in a short time.(Way, chap. 28, p. 185) (p. 77)
- Vocal prayer is not to be thought of as cut off from infused contemplation. Rather, the one is to blend into the other. When we have withdrawn the senses from all outer things, when once we are purified of our self-centered clingings, “when no hindrance comes to it from outside, the soul remains alone with its God and is thoroughly prepared to become enkindled” (Way, chap. 28, p. 187) (p. 78)
- “You must not tire yourself by trying to think a great deal, nor worry about meditation . . . keep occupying yourself all the time with the praise of the Lord.” (Letter 57 to Don Antonio) (p. 82, 83)
These souls in the first mansion are those free from serious sin and in whom Our Lord truly dwells, but are nonetheless chocked by “the cares of the world and the lure of wealth” (Matt. 13:22). We must transcend the world if we are to reach higher prayer.
These Souls: “will be well advised, as far as his state of life permits, to try to put aside all unnecessary affairs and business. For those who hope to reach the principal Mansion, this is so important that unless they begin in this way I do not believe they will ever be able to get there. (IC, mans. 1, chap. 2, p. 41) (p. 82)
For indeed, “what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions”. (Titus 2:12.) (p. 82) The noise, allures, and cares of the world are incompatible with the life of prayer and love of God.
These souls continue the work (still very active and human) begun in the first mansions.
“They are still engaged in worldly pastimes, half giving them up and half clinging to them. They see imperfectly, and they act imperfectly, but nonetheless some growth has occurred. … The man or woman in the second mansions is a battleground where the conflict between the world and the divine call is being waged. … The world’s tug is experienced in several ways: earthly pleasures remain attractive, and they appear as though almost eternal. The soul finds it hard to give up esteem in the world and a selfish clinging to family and friends. It unreasonably fears doing penances to which it now feels called, and it vacillates, says Teresa, as to whether to return to the first mansions or to strive bravely on. In the opposite direction God’s tug is likewise felt in diverse manners: reason itself shows the person how mistaken the world’s message is and why it is mistaken. Significant growth has now taken place and has instilled a conviction that only in God is one’s surety. Thus the will is inclined to love Him and to press on to leave worldliness with all of its falsehoods. … [but] the virtues are “young”, that they “have not yet learned to walk—in fact, they have only just been born”. (p. 83)
- Avoid ‘evil’ and ‘mediocre’ companions to learn from good, holy people advanced in the spiritual life
- “embrace the cross”, not simply receiving but welcoming suffering, even spiritual dryness
- “All that the beginner in prayer has to do . . . is to labour and be resolute and prepare himself with all possible diligence to bring his will into conformity with the will of God.” The more one does this, the more “he will receive of the Lord”. In the divine will “our entire welfare is to be found”. Again, the growth in prayer and the practical life of virtue are seen to be synonymous.
- Not be discouraged by failures, but persevere, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Phi. 3:13)
- Fidelity to prayer: “The door by which we can enter this castle is prayer.” (p. 83, 84)
These souls are coming to greater security in the Lord:
“They avoid committing even venial sins; they love doing penance; they spend hours in recollection; they use their time well; they practice works of charity toward their neighbours; and they are very careful in their speech and dress and in the government of their household if they have one.” (IC, mans. 3, chap. 1, p. 59) (p. 84-5)
It is important that they continue outgrowing all self-centredness and should not resist a certain simplification of discursive prayer in preparation for the prayer of quiet.
Fourth Mansions (Second Water)
After focusing on moral conversion in the earlier mansions, the fourth is now distinguished by the beginnings of infused contemplation: “the natural is united with the supernatural”. (IC, mans. 4, chap. 3, p. 94)
Contemplation in general has already been covered in greater depth (see summ. of ‘Prayer Primer’). Here is a briefer overview:
“Infused contemplation is a divinely given, general, nonconceptual, loving awareness of God. There are no images, no concepts, no ideas, no visions. Sometimes this awareness of God takes the form of a loving attention, sometimes of a dry desire, sometimes of a strong thirsting. None of these experiences is the result of reading or reasoning—they are given, received. The infusion is serene, purifying. It can be delicate and brief, or in advanced stages burning, powerful, absorbing, prolonged. Always it is transformative of the person, usually imperceptibly and gradually but on occasion obviously and suddenly.” (p. 86)
To describe it, Teresa uses the famous image of the ‘four waters’:
The garden of the soul, she says, can be watered in several manners. The first, drawing the water up from a well by use of a bucket, entails a great deal of human effort. The second way, cranking a water wheel and having the water run through an aqueduct, involves less exertion and yields more water. The third entails far less effort, for in it the water enters the garden as by an effluence from river or stream. The fourth and final way is the best of all: as by a gentle but abundant rainfall the Lord himself waters the garden, and the soul does not work at all. (Life, chap. 11, no. 7, p. 81.) (p. 78)
Vocal and mental prayer describes this ‘first water’. Contemplation sees human efforts replaced by divine benevolence:
… It is the difference between a person’s filling a basin through human effort by drawing the water and transporting it through “numerous conduits” from a long distance and a basin receiving water because it rests in the very Source, that is, in God, the ever-flowing fountain.” (IC, mans. 4, chap. 2, p. 81) (p. 86)
What is affected with this new prayer is “the suspension of the faculties”; that is, God taking over first the will, then the intellect, then the imagination. The faculties are bound to God in “a divinely bestowed absorption in knowing and loving and seeking.” (p. 87) Just as this prayer is “infused”, this capturing of the soul’s faculties is God’s initiative, not ours: God’s work, not ours. Insisting on our own efforts of discursive meditation may rather be quashing God’s gentle call to enter contemplation, and likewise we cannot suspend the faculties ourselves by the operation of those very faculties. Rather:
“The intellect ceases to work because God suspends it, as I shall explain afterwards if I know how and He gives me His help to do so. Taking it upon oneself to stop and suspend thought is what I mean should not be done; nor should we cease to work with the intellect, because otherwise we would be left like cold simpletons and be doing neither one thing nor the other. When the Lord suspends the intellect and causes it to stop, He Himself gives it that which holds its attention and makes it marvel; and without reflection it understands more in the space of a creed than we can understand with all our earthly diligence in many years. Trying to keep the soul’s faculties busy and thinking you can make them be quiet is foolish.” (Life, chap. 12, no. 5, p. 87.)
In the fourth mansions, this infused prayer typically begins with:
- Recollection (the soul’s introduction to contemplative prayer): “…an infused and gentle awareness given by God and not produced by human effort. One is, as it were, gathered together in God and desires solitude to be with Him. The senses and external things slowly lose their hold upon the person. Here the Lord calls “with a call so gentle that even they can hardly recognize it”, says Teresa, and these people “are sometimes in the castle before they have begun to think about God at all”. (IC, mans. 4, chap. 3, pp. 85-87. See also Testimony 59, no. 3, p. 355.)
- The Prayer of Quiet: the will is captured by God and can love nothing apart from Him.
“The soul is so satisfied with God that as long as the recollection lasts, the quiet and calm are not lost since the will is united with God even though the two faculties are distracted; in fact, little by little the will brings the intellect and the memory back to recollection. Even though the will may not be totally absorbed, it is so well occupied, without knowing how, that no matter what efforts the other two faculties make, they cannot take away its contentment and joy. (Life, chap. 15, no. 1, p. 102.)
The intellect and imagination are not “completely lost”, and so this prayer may extend even for days at a time, even through work and other activities – enjoying this interior quiet despite engaging in exterior activities with the body and the mind.
“…the will, while in contemplation, is working without knowing how it does so; the other two faculties are serving Him as Martha did. Thus Martha and Mary work together.” (Way, chap. 31, p. 203)
Indeed, despite the focus on the development of prayer in this mansion (and those to follow), we must note that just as the moral conversion in the earlier mansions allowed for growth in prayer, now the transition into higher prayer brings about an even greater surge of virtue: “the virtues grow incomparably better than in the previous degree of prayer”. As the Love of God is poured into our hearts, the fruits of the indwelling Spirit are borne powerfully even if unseen to the soul.
Receptivity is the key
Because contemplation is infused, there is nothing we can do to acquire, control, prolong, or intensify it:
“we can no more control this prayer than we can make the day break, or stop night from falling” (Way, chap. 31, p. 204).
Such efforts will only snuff the little spark being kindled within us. Our one task here is to not obstruct God’s work and receive his gifts:
As the mother gives her breast and her milk without the baby’s thought or effort, so the person at this prayer simply loves; there is no need to make efforts to understand or reflect on what is happening. “The soul should realize that it is in His company, and should merely drink the milk which His Majesty puts into its mouth and enjoy its sweetness. . . . It is not His will that the soul should try to understand how it is enjoying it, or what it is enjoying: it should lose all thought of itself.” (Way, chap. 31, pp. 205-6)
Although we needn’t give up vocal prayer and meditation at this point, we mustn’t cling to them if the Lord means to wean us from them.
However, another danger after having experienced such a divine manner of prayer is to refuse obstinately when it ends to return to the human manner, rather trying to replicate contemplation and cessation of thought artificially. The faculties “must be allowed to perform their office until God gives them a better one” (IC, mans. 4, chap. 3, p. 89). There is a time for receptivity and a time or activity, and sometimes the two will blend: vocal and discursive mental prayer, if desired and available, may be applied in contemplation, but simply and gently. We musn’t fear to reduce the quantity of prayers we have prescribed for ourselves in order to receive this prayer of greater quality Our Lord wishes to give us.
Progression is not secured, however, now that infused contemplation has begun. If we wish to grow further St. Teresa insists that we persist in the habitual practice of prayer, as a child will surely die if taken from its mother’s breast. As was begun in the earlier mansions, we must continue to actively detach ourselves “from everything”. We cannot retain our “selfish clingings” and advance in prayer; otherwise the seed will remain a single seed. Finally, we must seek greater solitude, insofar as we can without neglecting our state of life, thus giving Our Lord all opportunity to complete His work in us.
Fifth Mansions (Third Water)
In the fifth mansions, the infusion begun in the fourth mansions is continued such that all the soul’s faculties are absorbed and united with the Trinity’s indwelling. Thus, these mansions are also called union or spiritual betrothal, distinguished as they are by this prayer of union. Where previously only the will was captured in the prayer of quiet, now the other faculties (the imagination, memory, and intellect) “are almost totally united with God but not so absorbed as not to function. . . [they] have only the ability to be occupied completely with God.” (Life, chap. 16, no. 2-3, p. 109. See also chap. 17, no. 3, p. 113.) In this prayer, “the indwelling Guests quite entirely take over one’s inner life.”
Here, the soul is struck dumb with “the intellect is as though in awe; the will loves more than it understands, but it doesn’t understand in a describable way whether it loves or what it does; there is no memory at all, in my opinion, nor thought; nor even during that time are the senses awake, for they are as though lost, that the soul might be more occupied in what it enjoys.” (Testimony 59, no. 6, p. 356)
There is no distraction or activity. The soul can only receive this intense consolation and inebriation, with no understanding at all. Indeed, the sweetness of this prayer is comparable to the tenderness of a courtship, although far excelling earthly marriage. Yet, again, this delight is only the fruit of completely forgetting the self through great detachment and so becoming utterly absorbed in the Lover:
“My King, I beseech You, that all to whom I speak become mad from Your love. This soul would now want to see itself free—eating kills it; sleeping distresses it. nothing other than You can give it pleasure any longer and I would desire to see no other persons than those who are sick with this sickness I now have.”
Although far more intense than the prayer of quiet, the prayer of union is comparatively far shorter, usually lasting only “for five, ten or fifteen minutes at a time.” (p. 94)
It’s effect again is seen in a flourishing of the virtues, “transformed from one glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18.). These souls are truly “strangers and nomads on earth”, unmoved in love and saddened only by an infused and holy sorrow for sin in the world.
Sixth Mansions (Fourth Water)
The next mansion is characterized by “deepenings of the immersion we have been discussing” into greater intensity and more dramatic expression.
This is now the fourth water, in St Teresa’s analogy “the best of all: as by a gentle but abundant rainfall the Lord himself waters the garden, and the soul does not work at all.” (Life, chap. 11, no. 7, p. 81.) (p. 78)
This prayer is given in various forms (although the same in essence); it is important to note that - here especially, but as in any mansion - every person needn’t receive every gift associated with that particular stage of growth.
Ecstasy/rapture: Just as in previous contemplation the powers of the soul were captured, now the interior knowing and loving reaches such a pitch of intensity that now the “bodily energies” (i.e., seeing, hearing and touching) likewise fade away.
Now when the body is in rapture it is as though dead, frequently being unable to do anything of itself. It remains in the position it was when seized by the rapture, whether standing or sitting, or whether with the hands opened or closed. Although once in a while the senses fail (sometimes it happened to me that they failed completely), this occurs rarely and for only a short time. But ordinarily the soul is disoriented. Even though it can’t do anything of itself with regard to exterior things, it doesn’t fail to understand and hear as though it were listening to something coming from far off. I do not say that it hears and understands when it is at the height of the rapture (I say “height” to refer to the times when the faculties are lost to other things because of their intense union with God), for then, in my opinion, it neither sees, nor hears, nor feels. (Life, chap. 20, no. 18, p. 134-35.)
This experience is usually brief and “the rapture is experienced at intervals.” For long periods the will may be absorbed in God, but only briefly will the other faculties be suspended at one time. However, Teresa maintains that “in this Mansion raptures occur continually”, such that “any occasion whatever which serves to increase the strength of this fire causes the soul to take flight” (IC, mans. 6, chap. 6, p. 163), even the mere thought of God. “Souls in the sixth mansions are so obviously head over heels in love, a love of which the world has no cognizance or experience, that they live on the summit, so to speak.” (p. 99)
These experiences are unmistakable, God captures the soul: “If it is a genuine rapture we ourselves are powerless, whatever our efforts at resistance.” ( Book of Foundations, chap. 6, p. 26) Whether the soul is already in the prayer of quiet, at work, in consolation or in desolation, it is up to God to seize it whenever He likes. For indeed, this ecstasy is not yet unaccompanied by purifying desolation and darkness, even for weeks on end - all the more potent for the intensity of these delights. Yet accompanying and surrounding these experiences is often a certain “sober inebriation”: the soul is overcome with delight as though drunk without the defects of this state i.e. the reason remains uncompromised.
“It seems that this fire comes from above, from God’s true love: for however much I may desire and seek and strive after it, I play no part in obtaining even a spark of it.” (Life, chap. 39, no. 23, p. 275)
Transport/Flight of the Spirit: these differ from raptures only accidentally, not in essence. Specifically, whereas rapture occurs gradually, transport is sudden and dramatic:
“… the soul really seems to have left the body; on the other hand, it is clear that the person is not dead, though for a few moments he cannot even himself be sure if the soul is in the body or no. He feels as if he has been in another world . . . and has been shown a fresh light there, so much unlike any to be found in this life that, if he had been imagining it, and similar things, all his life long, it would have been impossible for him to obtain any idea of them . . . It is a fact that, as quickly as a bullet leaves a gun when the trigger is pulled, there begins within the soul a flight (I know no other name to give it) which, though no sound is made, is so clearly a movement that it cannot possibly be due to fancy . . . Great things are revealed to it. (IC, mans. 6, chap. 5, pp. 160-61)
Impulses: “…a desire, frequent and even habitual, that comes upon the soul suddenly and without any preceding prayer. It involves a keen remembrance that one is separated from God (that is, in this life one does not see Him face to face), a remembrance so powerful and experienced with such impact that instantaneously the soul seems beside itself. Nothing in this world can comfort or console the person
in this state, and it “dies with the longing to die” that it might be immersed in the Trinity through facial vision.” (p. 100)
Wounding: “it seems as though an arrow is thrust into the heart, or into the soul itself. Thus the wound causes a severe pain”, but a deeply spiritual pain of longing in the depths of the soul. “So felicitous is it that the recipient would like it never to leave.” (p. 101)
While the soul is in this condition, and interiorly burning, it often happens that a mere fleeting thought of some kind (there is no way of telling whence it comes, or how) or some remark which the soul hears about death’s long tarrying, deals it, as it were, a blow, or, as one might say, wounds it with an arrow of fire. I do not mean that there actually is such an arrow; but, whatever it is, it obviously could not have come from our own nature . . . It passes as quickly as a flash of lightning and leaves everything in our nature that is earthly reduced to powder . . . It instantaneously enchains the faculties . . . All I say falls short of the truth, which is indescribable. It is an enrapturing of the senses and faculties . . . The soul burns so fiercely . . . I do not believe it would feel anything if it were cut into little pieces . . . She is parched with thirst [for God]—It is well that great things should cost a great deal, especially if the soul can be purified by suffering and enabled to enter the seventh mansions. (IC, mans. 6, chap. 11, pp. 197-200)
Levitation: of all the ‘experiences’ of prayer we have observed, this alone is usually termed “extraordinary”. The others remain “normal” in the spiritual life. Levitation accompanies transport where “it sometimes happens that God takes the body along as well.” (p. 102)
When one sees one’s body so elevated from the ground that even though the spirit carries it along after itself, and does so very gently if one does not resist, one’s feelings are not lost… There is revealed a majesty about the One who can do this that makes a person’s hair stand on end, and there remains a strong fear of offending so awesome a God. Yet such fear is accompanied by a very great love for Him. (Life, chap. 20, no. 7, p. 131.)
Just as the other mansions have seen a growing God-centeredness in the soul, now we begin to observe that even the body is aligned with God “since the body is now obedient to what the soul desires.” (Life, chap. 20, no. 21, p. 136). Thus, ecstasy is not only “enjoyed” by the body sometimes, but this prayer is even healing and strengthening. “The whole person is rejuvenated.” (p.) But these pleasures are allowed because there are no longer attachments to anything created in such a soul, “no pleasure seeking in worldly things” (p. 102) Rather, life in the world is a burden.
Surprising though it may seem, as the person continues to advance in prayer, raptures cease. (p. 103)
The reason for this was that at the beginning all that God gave her to perceive and understand, as they were supernatural, were strange to her and caused her great amazement, and this amazement resulted in her being carried away and unconscious in the excessive pleasure that her soul experienced within her. Now, as she was more experienced, she enjoyed it more and it made less noise, because she was more used to the great experiences God gave her. (Dispositions, pp 60-61)
Thus, we come to the culmination of contemplation on earth, the transforming union – there remains after this only the beatific vision. Indeed, entry into the seventh mansions is itself confirmed, St. Teresa teaches, with an intellectual vision of the Blessed Trinity:
First of all the spirit becomes enkindled and is illumined, as it were, by a cloud of the greatest brightness. It sees these three Persons, individually, and yet, by a wonderful kind of knowledge which is given to it, the soul realizes that most certainly and truly all these three Persons are one Substance and one Power and one Knowledge and one God alone; so that what we hold by faith the soul may be said here to grasp by sight, although nothing is seen by the eyes, either of the body or of the soul, for it is no ordinary vision. (IC, mans. 7, chap. 1, pp. 209-10)
Now the soul has entered full union.
‘The two, God incarnate and this ordinary human person, are now inseparably united. Previous prayer gifts, lofty though they be, are passing, but in this wedded union “the soul remains all the time in that centre with its God”. The saint is so taken with the splendor of this union that she immediately proceeds to give examples in an effort to communicate what she found. It is like the rain falling into a river or a pond; the waters thus joined cannot afterward be separated or divided. Or it is as beams of light entering a room through two windows: once their brightness has blended together within the room, they are inseparably one light. 145 She recalls immediately the remark of St. Paul that “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him”.146 Deep streams of life and love flow from this Lord, so that “Christ is now its life”. (Gal 2:20.)
All other prayer suffers duration, but here the soul experiences a permanent oneness with the indwelling Trinity. “The soul is always aware that it is experiencing this companionship . . . the essential part of her soul seemed never to move from that dwelling place . . . they have become like two who cannot be separated from one another.” (IC, mans. 7, chap. 1, p. 211)
While a permanent full absorption on the faculty level is not possible in this our pilgrim life, “the essential part” of the soul, the “profound centre” ever possesses a peaceful awareness of the Trinitarian presence even as all other prayer experiences yet come and go intermittently. Indeed, raptures are generally far less common in this mansion than the previous, so great is this perpetual and perfect joy.
In similar manner, the soul maintains a certain dual operation. Like Mary and Martha, even as the person remains active exteriorly, the soul is ever lost in adoration of its King. The active and contemplative life are united.
Thus, the Gospel’s demand for perfection is achieved: to love God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind. (Lk. 10:27)
The soul is living a new life, the new creation of which St. Paul speaks. Its life is not only improved; it is new. There is a complete self-forgetfulness, an entire seeking after God for whom she would gladly lay down her life. While she does not neglect to sleep and eat, these are as nothing to her. The desire for the will of God to be done is extreme. Persecution itself brings great interior joy with no enmity toward those who ill-treat her. This person is no more afraid of death than she would be of a gentle rapture. She experiences no aridities and inner trials and no fear that this sublime prayer may be counterfeited by the devil. Indeed, there is an unwavering certitude that it comes from God and no other. “He and the soul alone have fruition of each other in the deepest silence.” (pp. 106-7)
This the perfection of Communion to which we are all called from all eternity and with all desire by the God who made us and loves us. It is nothing more than the proclamation of the New Testament (cf p. 108)
Fr Thomas Dubay. Fire Within, San Francisco:Ignatius Press, 1989