St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a mystic who believed that no intermediary is necessary for the soul's union with God.
Teresa entered a Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation in Ávila on 2 November 1535. She found herself increasingly in disharmony with the spiritual malaise prevailing at the monastery. Among the 150 nuns living there, the observance of cloister—designed to protect and strengthen the spirit and practice of prayer—became so lax that it actually lost its very purpose. These violations of the solitude absolutely essential to progress in genuine contemplative prayer grieved Teresa to the extent that she longed to do something.
As part of her original patent, Teresa was given permission to set up two houses for those who wished to adopt her reforms.
The kernel of Teresa's mystical thought throughout all her writings is the ascent of the soul in four stages.
The first, Devotion of Heart, is mental prayer of devout concentration or contemplation. It is the withdrawal of the soul from without and especially the devout observance of the passion of Christ and penitence.
The second, Devotion of Peace, is where human will is surrendered to God. This is by virtue of a charismatic, supernatural state given by God, while the other faculties, such as memory, reason, and imagination, are not yet secure from worldly distraction. While a partial distraction is due to outer performances such as repetition of prayers and writing down spiritual things, yet the prevailing state is one of quietude.
The third, Devotion of Union, is absorption in God. It is not only a supernatural but an essentially ecstatic state. Here there is also an absorption of the reason in God, and only the memory and imagination are left to ramble. This state is characterized by a blissful peace, a sweet slumber of at least the higher soul faculties, or a conscious rapture in the love of God.
The fourth, Devotion of Ecstasy, is where the consciousness of being in the body disappears. Sense activity ceases; memory and imagination are also absorbed in God or intoxicated. Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, a complete impotence and unconsciousness, sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space. This is followed by a reactionary relaxation of a few hours in a swoon-like weakness, attended by a negation of all the faculties in the union with God. It is the climax of mystical experience, producing a trance. Indeed, she was said to have been observed levitating during Mass on more than one occasion.
Teresa is one of the foremost writers on mental prayer, and her position among writers on mystical theology is unique. In all her writings on this subject, she deals with her personal experiences. Her deep insight and analytical gifts helped her to explain them clearly. She writes, "Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” She used a metaphor of mystic prayer as watering a garden throughout her writings.
Juliana Cesano, speaker, is a 2nd generation Theosophist. She has worked and studied at the Theosophical Headquarter, both in Chenai, India and Wheaton, Illinois where she is on the Staff of the Theosophical Society in America.
This presentation is a DVD.
Free and Open to the Public
Friday, November 16, 2018
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Tracy Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter, Houston, TX 77042
For more information please contact
Barbara at bwrtx2011@gmail
call Flem at 281-493-4542
West Houston Theosophical Study Center