The Interior Castle by Teresa of Ávila

St. Teresa of Ávila wrote “The Interior Castle” in 1577 as a guide for spiritual development and mystical prayer.

 


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

An introduction to Teresa of Avila

A summary of her teaching

Natural Prayer

Supernatural Prayer

Our conclusion

Endnotes

Terminology

Bibliography

 


 

AN INTRODUCTION TO TERESA OF AVILA

 

Teresa of Avila was born in 1515 a.d., near the walled city of Avila in Spain. At that time, her country was the greatest power on earth. She came from a family of ten children. They were Catholics, but had Jewish ances­tors.

In 1535 she ran away from home and entered the Carmelite monastery in Avila. She led a prayerful life over the next 20 years but felt she had not surrendered fully to God.

In 1554, at 39 years of age, she experienced a powerful conversion. She entered into a new life where the mystical expe­rience of passive quiet, and often of union, became habitual for her.

After a terrifying vision of hell, Teresa became determined to establish convents that were less luxurious and more contemplative. She founded her first reformed monastery in 1562 in Av­ila. By the time of her death in 1582, she had founded 14 reform monasteries.

Teresa also wrote books about the mystical life.

In 1567 she met a newly-ordained priest who would later be known as St. John of the Cross. John was going to leave the Carmelites for a more heavenly-minded order, but Teresa convinced him to remain. In fact, she talked him into helping her establish her reformed monasteries.

In 1577 Teresa began writing this masterpiece called The Interior Castle. This is one of the truly great Christian books of all time. Renovaré includes it in their list of “25 Books Every Christian Should Read.”

St. Teresa thoroughly mixed the quiet, contemplative life with a life of active service to others. She emphasized the “gift” nature of mystical phenomenon. She advised many in the ways of the spiritual life.

Theresa died in 1582. She was beatified in 1614 and canonized a saint in 1622. Then in 1970, Pope Paul VI named her a Doctor of the Church, that is, one of the 30-some greatest teachers of the faith of all time.

 

A SUMMARY OF HER TEACHING

 

God leads some individuals through seven ever-greater experi­ences and modes of praying, until finally one day, they experience the greatest union with God that is possible while still alive on earth.

Teresa said the soul is like a castle made out of pure crystal. It has seven sets of dwelling places, or “rooms,” that lead one after another from the outside of the castle to its very center. At the center is God Almighty.

Teresa’s plan is to guide the individual in its journey from the outside of the cas­tle to its very center, where God powerfully unites with the soul. In-between, along the way might be pit­falls and joys, boredom and ecstatic experiences, dryness and levitation.

This Interior Castle is a place we can greatly delight in. We can go there any time we wish.

Once you get used to enjoying this castle, you will find rest in all things, even those involving much labor, for you will have the hope of returning to the castle, which no one can take from you. (Interior Castle, Epilogue, paragraph #2)

In this series, we’ll look at each of Teresa’s seven dwelling places. For each, we’ll summarize Teresa’s ideas and then ex­am­ine what her teaching means for us spiritual seeker of today. How does it affect our lives? How does it affect our spiritual life of prayer?

Our goal is simple: we want to share with you St. Teresa’s awesome schema; we want to share with you Teresa’s many prayer “methodologies,” if you will; and above all, we want to inspire you to pray.

 

NATURAL PRAYER

 

The first three Dwelling Places are the realm of what Teresa calls “natural prayer.” Here are some key points them:

Mansion Spirituality Prayer
1. Distracted Put aside worldly things Imitate Jesus
2. Struggling Renew your mind Meditate
3. Disciple More singleminded Presence of God within

 

ROOM 1. DISTRACTED

 

Teresa of Avila says God leads people through an orderly sequence of seven stages of intimacy with himself. Each stage yields greater intimacy with God.

It is like arriving at a castle. To get to the center, you walk from the outside through a sequence of rooms to get to the center. To get to the middle of circle, you go from the edge to the middle.

The “First” Dwelling Place of The Interior Castle is the outer ring. Our nickname for it is “distracted.”

Very little of the glowing light from the King’s royal chamber filters out this far. The soul is submerged in the things of the world. It is smothered by the cares of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:19).

In essence, this individual is deaf and dumb to God.

This soul does have some good desires, though, and even prays on oc­casion, probably in some rote way.

In order for the soul in this space to grow closer to God, it needs to put aside whatever af­fairs and business concerns that it can, so as to be able to make some time for prayer and medi­tation.

The prayer “methodology” is to meditate on the life of the Lord Jesus and to try to imitate his life. By means of thoughtful re­flection on the gospels and good spiritual books, the individual begins to see the value of spiritual pursuits. He or she begins to desire to grow spiritually. He or she would do well to grow in self-knowledge and in humility.

 

ROOM 2. STRUGGLING

 

The “Second” Dwelling Place of The Interior Castle is something we call “struggling.”

The soul has taken its first steps in regular prayer. It has made some progress in meditative prayer and is beginning to change some things in its life to be more like Jesus Christ.

Now it feels a battle being waged inside of it between its former worldliness and the divine call it is now able to begin hear­ing. Spiritually, it is still weak and irresolute, and it is not especially careful to avoid being tempted to sin.

In order for the soul in this space to grow closer to God, it needs to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2b).

It can do this by reading good spiritual books, by hearing good spiritual sermons and by cultivating friendship with spiritual people.

These souls should continue to be faithful to the practices of prayer that it began in the First Dwell­ing Place. They should avoid mediocre and evil people, lest they be lured back into the same problems they are trying to overcome. That’s why recovering alcoholics stay away from the bars for many years.

Finally, since they are changing their life around so much, they may need to endure trials and even ill­nesses. These souls are in the midst of spiritual warfare, and they feel as though they are taking some hits.

The prayer “methodology” is to continue in meditative prayer. Whenever they discover the will of God for them, they should be very eager to conform their lives to that divine will. Finally, as with all people engaged in prayer, they should not seek consolations in prayer, that is, happy spiritual feelings, lest they get attached to them and their spiritual growth is paralyzed.

 

ROOM 3. DISCIPLE

 

By now, the soul has become a “good” Christian. It is careful to not sin. It desires to do penances and austerities, and to do them a lot. These souls use time well, practices charity toward their neighbor and maintain balance in speech and in dress. In essence, it is a “disciple.”

Teresa says there are many such souls in the world, and says that in her opinion,

“there is no reason why entrance even into the final dwelling place should be denied these souls, nor will the Lord deny them this entrance if they desire it; for such a desire is an excellent way to prepare one­self so that every favor be granted.” (Interior Castle, Third Dwelling Place, Chapter 1, paragraph 5)

In order for this soul to grow closer to God, it should work at becoming unconcerned for wealth and good health. If the soul is overly concerned about those things, it will probably not be suitably disposed for further progress into the Interior Castle.

It addition to lessening its obsessions for health and wealth, the soul really should get a spiritual director.

It is important for these souls is to not turn back from prayer, even if they experience few consolations while praying. In fact, at this point they should expect very few consolations in prayer. These souls have come as far as they possibly can under their own power. They are as dis­posed as they can be for God to begin doing some new things with them in prayer. Now they just need to not quit. They need to wait in reverent expectation.

In contrast to their former practice of meditation, the soul can now begin to actively focus on the presence of the Holy Trinity within them. This is a very simple method of prayer; it’s a big shift from meditation, but a powerful one.

 

SUPERNATURAL PRAYER

 

The last four Dwelling Places are the realm of what Teresa calls “supernatural prayer.” Here are some key points about them:

 

Mansion Spirituality Prayer
4. Recollection Infused prayer Centering Prayer
5. Union Know God more Absorbed in Union
6. Betrothal Increase your desire for God Eschew paranormal experiences
7. Marriage Live like Jesus Note God’s presence

 

ROOM 4. RECOLLECTED

 

The first three dwelling places were in the realm of “natural” prayer. The individual was exerting herself to pray. But now, the soul has en­tered into the realm of “supernatural” prayer.

Previously, the prayer was acquired by natural effort; now the prayer is infused by God. The difference is night and day for the soul.

In room #4, the soul has greater freedom than ever before. It has improved its living of the virtuous life. It begins to have some super­natural experiences here, such as suspension of its faculties, a dilation of the soul, or a dilation of the heart. It is “recollected.”

The soul used to strain to pray to God; now God prays to himself inside the soul. The di­vine afterburner has kicked in and the air­plane is taking off.

John of the Cross describes how this change comes about:

“When the appetite has been fed somewhat and has become in a certain fashion accustomed to spiritual things and has acquired some fortitude and constancy, God begins to wean the soul, as they say, and place it in the state of contemplation.” (Note 1)

In order for this soul to grow closer to God, it should hope for the passive experience of recollection. Recollection is when God produces delight with the greatest peace and quiet­ness and sweetness in the very interior part of ourselves. (Note 2)

But don’t think that this recol­lection is acquired through the soul’s own efforts. Rather, one noticeably senses a gentle drawing inward. (Note 3)

The contemplation the soul is now experiencing is very simple, yet very hard to describe. Cardinal Hume of London said it’s like being in a dark room with someone you love. St. John Chrysostom said it’s a listening in silence; an expectancy. (Note 4)

Patricia Hart Clifford describes it in various ways: deep interior silence and stillness; a sojourn in the darkness, letting some­thing happen instead of making something happen; sitting like a rock, motionless and imper­turbable; sitting in a movie theater and not following the plot of the movie. (Note 5)

The prayer “methodology” that Teresa describes for these souls is to abandon their former practices of meditation. Instead they should practice a gentle centering prayer.

Centering prayer is a practice where the soul gently says a spiritual word over and over again in its heart, until the ex­perience of infused prayer begins to occur. This can lead to the prayer of quiet or even to spiritual delight in God. This practice of continually repeating the name of God over and over again is an ancient one and can be very powerful.

Our hero Mohandas K. Gandhi said, Each repetition of God’s name carries you nearer and nearer to God. (Note 6)

Abandoning the practice of meditation can be a very trying experience. This is especially the case for Catholics, who often remember sweet experiences while meditating on the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross. However, for many such Catholics, those practices ceased being fruitful years or decades ago.

They probably clung to the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross because they thought such things were mandatory. Or perhaps they saw the Rosary and the Stations as badges of orthodoxy.

However, in order for the soul to advance, St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, says it must let go of meditation.

St. Therese of Lisieux lamented that there came a point where meditation became fruitless for her. “I forced myself in vain to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary; I don’t succeed in fix­ing my thoughts on them.” (Note 7)

Patricia Hart Clifford commented that abandoning the practice of meditation was frighten­ing for her. Initially, she writes,

“abandoning familiar images and concepts of God in meditation felt like I was loosing my faith. But experiencing the power of grace as well as the presence of the holy in meditation has actually enlarged my faith rather than diminish it.” (Note 8)

Just as it is very important to not meditate, it is also very important to ignore any super­natural phenomenon that one may be experiencing. St. John of the Cross puts it this way:

“Insofar as he is capable, a person must void himself of all, so that, however many supernatural communications he receives, he will continually live as though de­nuded of them and in darkness. Like a blind man he must lean on dark faith, accept it for his guide and light, and rest on nothing of what he understands, tastes, feels or imagines . . . For however impressive one’s knowledge or feeling of God, that knowledge or feeling will have no resemblance to God and amount to very lit­tle.” (Note 9)

So even if we have some sort of fantastic mystical experience, we need to set that aside and keep going. Otherwise, we’ll never go any further.

Now that the spiritual path has changed in a big way, the soul needs to be resolved to keep going. St Teresa says:

“It is most important – all-important, indeed – that they should begin well by mak­ing an earnest and most determined resolve not to halt until they reach their goal, whatever may come, whatever may happen to them, however hard they may have to labor, whoever may complain of them, whether they reach their goal or die on the road or have no heart to confront the trials which they meet, whether the very world dissolves before them.” (Note 10)

Above all, Teresa says, The impor­tant thing is not to think much but to love much, and to do that which best stirs you to love. (Note 11)

In Teresa’s thinking, love

“doesn’t consist in great de­light but desiring with strong de­termination to please God in everything, in striving, insofar as possible, to not offend Him, and in asking Him for the advancement of the honor and glory of His Son.” (Note 12)

One of the great Hindus of the 1800s was named Sri Ramakrishna. He spoke about the degree of love required to grow closer to God: Mad! That’s the word. One must become mad with love in order to realize God. (Note 13)

Note that this experience of contemplation is given to the soul by God. It’s not something that’s the result of carefully executed techniques.

Yet there are certain things you need to do. You have to pray regularly. Prayer time should be at least one hour daily, one author says. (Note 14)

Another author, the 14th-century English mystic who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing, wrote,

“I tell you frankly that anyone who desires to be a contemplative will know the pain of arduous toil (unless God should intervene with a special grace); he will feel keenly the cost of constant effort until he is long ac­customed to this work.” (Note 15)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:

“The choice of time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, re­vealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter.” (Note 16)

Infused prayer is only granted by God and never generated by the soul. Therefore, until God grant the soul infused prayer, the soul should not strive for infused prayer. Otherwise it would be trying to find its way on its own, without God.

Teresa offers several reasons for this:

  1. We are to love God unselfishly, no matter what he grants us
  2. Thinking we can “obtain” it on our own is a lack of humility
  3. The preparation for spiritual union with God is to suffer and to imitate the Lord Je­sus, not to lust for spiritual delights
  4. God is not obliged to give souls these bless­ings, because we can be saved without them
  5. Laboring at it won’t work if the divine spring doesn’t want to pro­duce it.

Teresa adds:

“The soul does become quite a fool when it tries to induce this prayer, and it is left much drier; and the imagination perhaps becomes more restless through the effort made not to think of anything.” (Note 17)

 

ROOM 5. UNION

 

We call the fifth room of the Interior Castle “union.” One is experiencing union with God. The soul’s faculties have become com­pletely silent.

Of course, this does not mean the Prayer of Sleep. At least not “literal” sleep.

During its experiences of divine union, the soul no longer sees or hears or understands. It is filled with peace and joy. Even trials and difficulties give rise to peace and happiness.

Teresa writes: This union is above all earthly joys, above all delights, above all consolations, and its still more than that. (Note 18)

In order for this soul to grow closer to God, it should get to know God more. It should focus special attention on practicing the virtues, on faithfulness to duty, and on love of neighbor.

The fact that St. Teresa retains this focus on the “horizontal” in the face of the “vertical.” She says that mystical experiences in prayer do not dispense one from living the Christian life. A prayerful soul is still obliged to love its neighbors, to fulfill life’s duties and to live a holy life.

There are still dangers for the soul in this dwelling place. It can still fall into sins such as self-love or self-esteem, judging one’s neighbors or a subtle lack of charity.

Teresa offered one easy way to check if you’re on the right path. The more advanced you are in the love of your neighbor, the more advanced you are in the love of God. Thus we are to Beg our Lord to give you this perfect love of neighbor. (Note 19)

A danger in the Fifth Dwelling Place is that the devil may present the soul with something that is “good.” The soul can then get distracted toward that good and, little-by-little; get taken up by that distraction. That will darken the intellect, cool the will and make self-love grow until the soul withdraws from the will of God. We can get sidetracked so easily.

The prayer “methodology” that Teresa suggests for these souls is that no more technique is called for. During prayer, the soul can simply be absorbed in union with God.

Teresa writes:

“There is no need here to use any technique to suspend the mind since all the fac­ulties are asleep in this state . . . As a matter of fact, during that time that the union lasts the soul is left as though without its senses, for it has no power to think even if it wants to.” (Note 20)

Teresa cautions the soul to avoid disturbing this divine union.

Now God has brought the soul to a communing with himself that is completely beyond the narrowness of our limited human understanding and thinking.

In this dwelling place the soul begins to cease the discipline of con­templation and simply enjoys the divine fire burning within it.

 

ROOM 6. SPIRITUAL BETROTHAL

 

The soul has never before been so awak­ened to the things of God. By God’s grace, it is essentially free from what some call “serious” sin. It might experience paranormal phe­nomenon.

Rapture or ecstasy. God draws the soul out of its senses, gently carries it off and begins to show it some part of his kingdom.

Flight of the spirit. The soul is suddenly carried off to an en­tirely different region different from this one in which we live.

Intellectual vision. Feeling the nearness of the Lord Jesus without seeing him with the eyes of the body or with the eyes of the soul.

Awakening. Even though no sound was heard, the soul knows it was spiritually awakened by God.

Wounding. The soul feels as though it was stabbed by a fiery arrow of love by an angel. The soul thinks of this wounding as something precious, and the wounding satisfies it much more than the delightful and painless absorption into the prayer of quiet.

Despite these wondrous experiences, the soul also experiences many trials such as gos­sip, praise, blame, disapproval, illnesses, pain, persecution, or even bad advice from a spiritual director.

St. John of the Cross says that no one can describe how happy the soul feels here. (Note 21)

The great delights this soul expe­ri­ences are not continual, however.

In order for this soul to grow closer to God, it should cultivate an increased desire for God. From the human perspective, it boils down to desire.

John of the Cross says,

“It seems that the more the soul desires God the more it pos­sesses him.” He goes on to say that “The greater the soul’s desire, the greater will be its satisfaction and de­light rather than its suffering and pain.” (Note 22)

The soul’s experience in this Sixth Dwelling Place might seem so marvelous that its hard to imagine that there could be anything better. However, there is. There is far better in store.

Surprisingly, though, the soul will need a greater level of courage for the better spiritual things that are yet to come, because those better things are accompanied by trials.

What prayer habits Teresa suggests for these souls is simple: don’t desire paranormal ex­periences. Eschew desires for mystical phenomenon. During trials, simply wait for the mercy of God. Above, all, in this mode of simply loving, don’t abandon the Lord Jesus. Stay faithful to him.

During this phase of her own life, St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus called the Lord Jesus “that Divine Fire which burns without consuming.” (Note 23)

Therese came to

“understand that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was BURNING WITH LOVE.” This was the means by which she ar­rived at her ultimate vocation in life: “MY VOCATION IS LOVE . . . I shall be love.” (Note 24)

 

ROOM 7. SPIRITUAL MARRIAGE

 

In the Seventh Dwelling Place, the Holy Trinity is revealed to it. This intellectual vision of the Ho­ly Trinity is ongoing.

The soul has become one spirit with the Lord, and it can objectively say, along with St. Paul, that For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)

The soul is free from mortal sin. In this soul, the dichotomies of Mary and Martha, the contemplative and the active, have become one. It has no fear of death. There is almost no spiritual dryness or interior disturbance.

Happily, there are no closed doors between the Sixth and the Seventh Dwelling Places. The soul goes back and forth, from one to the other.

In order for this soul to grow closer to God, it should live like the Lord Jesus. It should yield the fruits of good works. It should maintain inner calm in all exterior events. It should do all deeds with great love. After all, these lofty experiences are given, Teresa says, not for the sake of our enjoyment but so as to have this strength to serve. (Note 25)

What prayer habits Teresa suggests for these souls is simple: to notice the continual pres­ence of the divine, and to practice great love in its good works.

 

OUR CONCLUSION

 

We’ve looked into the mystical doctrine of St. Teresa of Avila, using her book The Interior Castle. Teresa describes how God leads a graced soul through seven ever-greater expe­riences and modes of praying, until one day the soul finally experiences the greatest union with God that is possible this side of the grave.

Teresa said the soul is like a castle made out of pure crystal. It has seven sets of dwelling places, or “rooms,” that lead one after another from the outside of the castle to its very center. At the center is God Almighty.

Teresa guides the soul in its journey from the outside of the cas­tle to its very center, where God powerfully unites with the soul. In-between, along the way, might be pit­falls and joys, boredom and ecstatic experiences, dryness and levitation.

This Interior Castle is a place we can greatly delight in. We can go there any time we wish.

“Once you get used to enjoying this castle, you will find rest in all things, even those involving much labor, for you will have the hope of returning to the castle, which no one can take from you.” (Note 26)

The goal of this series has been simple. We want to share with you Teresa’s awesome schema. We wanted to share with you Teresa’s many prayer methodologies. And above all, we hope to inspire you to pray.

 

ENDNOTES

 

1. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, Stanza 3, paragraph 32. [Back to the text]

2. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Fourth Dwelling Place, Chapter 2, paragraph 4, Divine Consolations. [Back to the text]

3. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Fourth Dwelling Place, Chapter 3, paragraph 3, Prayer of Quiet. [Back to the text]

4. Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer, page 90. [Back to the text]

5. Patricia Hart Clifford, Sitting Still. New York: Paulist Press, 1994. [Back to the text]

6. Mahadev Desai, quoting M.K. Gandhi in Harijan (May 25, 1935) in The Gos­pel of Selfless Action or the Gita According to Gandhi (Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan Pub­lishing House, 1995), p. 280. [Back to the text]

7. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, p. 242. [Back to the text]

8. Patricia Hart Clifford, Sitting Still (New York: Paulist Press, 1994), page 80. [Back to the text]

9. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book the Second, Chapter IV, paragraph 2. [Back to the text]

10. Theresa of Avila, Way, ch. 21. Cited in Thomas Dubay, Fire Within, p. 116. [Back to the text]

11. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Fourth Dwelling Place, Chapter 1, paragraph 7, Sweetness in Prayer. [Back to the text]

12. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Fourth Dwelling Place, Chapter 1, paragraph 7, Sweetness in Prayer. [Back to the text]

13. Sri Ramakrishna. Cited in Marvin Barrett, Seeking the Transcendent, in Pa­rabola Magazine, Summer 1998, 46. [Back to the text]

14. James Borst, M.H.M., Contemplative Prayer (Liguori, Missouri: Liguori Publi­cations, 1979), 18. [Back to the text]

15. William Johnson, ed., The Cloud of Unknowing (New York: Doubleday, 1973), ch. 26, p. 83. [Back to the text]

16. Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2710. [Back to the text]

17. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Fourth Dwelling Place, Chapter 3, paragraph 5, Prayer of Quiet. [Back to the text]

18. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Fifth Dwelling Place, chapter 1, paragraph 5. [Back to the text]

19. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Fifth Dwelling Place, chapter 3, paragraph 12. [Back to the text]

20. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Fifth Dwelling Place, chapter 1, paragraph 3. [Back to the text]

21. John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love, stanza 3, paragraph 16. [Back to the text]

22. John of the Cross, Living Flame of Love, stanza 3, paragraph 23. [Back to the text]

23. Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, Translated by John Clark, O.C.D. (Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1972), page 83. [Back to the text]

24. Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, page 194. [Back to the text]

25. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Seventh Dwelling Place, Chapter 4, paragraph 12. [Back to the text]

26. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Epilogue, paragraph 2. [Back to the text]

 

 

TERMINOLOGY

 

The world of contemplative prayer uses some very specialized terminology. Not all the authors use those terms to mean the same thing. Even an individual author uses them differently, in different contexts. Teresa is like that.

Here are some definitions we’ve synthesized:

Contemplation: A deep love communion with the Triune God. We cannot produce this; we can only receive it. It is a wordless awareness and a love that we cannot initiate or produce ourselves. It can be described by its effects: deep peace; a new love of God; delight; emptiness; a new, dark knowing; a loving knowing; humility; an inflowing of God; delicacy; transformation. It cannot be figured out; it cannot be understood fully.

Infused Recollection: A passive experience of recollection. A drawing of the faculties gently inward. The recollection achieved at the cost of human effort is different than this.

Prayer of Quiet / Initial Contemplation: A deeper form of infused recollection, in which the will finds rest but the intellect continues to move. The heart is held, but the mind and the imagination are free to wander. There is a quiet, deep and peaceful happiness in the will.

Prayer of Union. Like the Prayer of Quiet, but the faculties become completely silent (“suspended”). The soul has a certitude that it was in God and God was in it.

Spiritual Betrothal. Also called ecstatic union or absorption. God gives the soul raptures that draw it out of itself. During this experience, the soul is without outward consciousness and can no longer communicate with the outside world.

Spiritual Marriage. An increase of the betrothal that culminates in an intellectual vision of the Most Holy Trinity.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Borst, James, M.H.M., Contemplative Prayer. Liguori, Missouri: Liguori Publi­cations, 1979

Ewert Cousins, trans. Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey to God. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1978

Doohan, Leonard. The Contemporary Challenge of John of the Cross. Washington, D.C., Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1995

Dubay, Thomas, S.M. Fire Within. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989

Hart Clifford, Patricia. Sitting Still. New York: Paulist Press, 1994

John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel. In The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross. Washington, D.C., Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1991

John of the Cross, The Dark Night. In The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross. Washington, D.C., Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1991

John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love. In The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross. Washington, D.C., Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1991

Griffin, Emilie, editor, and Farrington, Tim, translator. The Cloud of Unknowing. HarperOne, 1981

Merton, Thomas. Contemplative Prayer

Teresa of Avila. The Interior Castle. Translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriquez, O.C.D.. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1979

Teresa of Avila. Way

Thérèse of Lisieux. The Story of a Soul, Translated by John Beevers. New York: Image Books Doubleday, 2001

 


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