Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
This post is an extension of the previous post entitled: Prayer of quiet or prayer of spiritual delights from God. In the latter I explained the prayer of quiet in The Interior Castle, chapters 30 and 31, where we are going to find new points of view which enrich the previous texts.
In chapter 30, we are told that she is going to use the Lord’s prayer sentence, “Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come in us” to the prayer of quiet.
The “good Jesus“, seeing the difficulties that the human being has to ask to be the name of His Father hallowed, He wanted to help us to get involved in some of His Kingdom (The Way of Perfection 30.4)
From the start we can notice that Saint Teresa identifies Heaven with the Kingdom of God. This comes from the beginnings of Christianity.
Jesus talked about the imminent arrival of His Kingdom. It was a future which was about to bring up to date immediately.
That´s the way His followers understood it, to such an extent that some of them gave up working. As the arrival of that Kingdom didn´t arrive, Paul had to warn in his letters to the Thessalonians that they had to go back to work.
The Kingdom preached by Jesus was at the end of History, it was described in a historical vision. Jesus didn´t give a definition of the term, it was something dynamic which had much to do with the sovereignty of God in the world. When time prolonged without His coming, the Christians thought that the Kingdom was Jesus Himself that, with His coming to this world, His Kingdom had already started. We are in an in-between time, where the Kingdom and sovereignty of God in the world have started, and we are waiting for His second and definite coming. Christians, without noticing it much moved from a historical conception to a vertical one, from the Kingdom to Heaven. Teresa of Jesus inherited that idea, she identifies The Kingdom with Heaven and with the good Jesus. There was an important drawback in this change of point of view: the change from historical point of view that is Kingdom to the vertical point of view that is Heaven. On its way the cry of the first Christians- Maranatha, come Lord Jesus– about the second coming of Christ, could be lost. Luckily, our master Teresa of Jesus didn´t fall into the trap as many people did, especially when medieval plagues had introduced fear and pessimism in Europe, and resulting oblivion of the second coming of Jesus Christ.
What mainly helped her to save this obstacle was her perception of reality in life. Or rather, the life and love which nurtured her, in which we are going to live from the entrance of the mysticism in the fourth mansion. From an adult point of view and with open eyes faith, the true mystic sinks his feet in the mud of reality, he doesn´t flee to an ideal world.
Teresa of Jesus discovers that life is a delectable grief. Life has much to do with grief and pain, and many wonderful moments, delectable ones Not only the suffering of the world, but also the delectable joy of love, are crying out for the second coming of Christ. The 11 chapters in the sixth mansion are going to be an authentic love lesson and a descent into life´s hell (Interior Castle 6.11) which require both love consummation and overcoming of grief. The apparent silence of God concerning the suffering in the world, along with the wish to meet Jesus Christ face to face, will be the incentive for her wish of His second coming, which may increasingly grow till it becomes almost unbearable in her prayer of impetus (impulse) of the sixth mansion.
Having given this warning, in The Way of Perfection 30, she tells us that we can start living Heaven on Earth when we enter in the world of received love. One who knows to be loved by God, can enjoy a bit of the Heaven which is awaiting us.
She first describes Heaven for us:
“To me, then, it seems that, of the many joys to be found in the kingdom of Heaven, the chief is that we shall have no more to do with the things of earth; for in Heaven we shall have an intrinsic tranquility and glory, a joy in the rejoicings of all, a perpetual peace, and a great interior satisfaction which will come to us when we see that all are hallowing and praising the Lord, and are blessing His name, and that none is offending Him. For all love Him there and the soul’s one concern is loving Him, nor can it cease from loving Him because it knows Him. And this is how we should love Him on earth, though we cannot do so with the same perfection nor yet all the time; still, if we knew Him, we should love Him very differently from the way we do now” (The Way of Perfection 30.5).
From now on, spiritual life becomes a copy of the life of the blessed:
“But there are times when we are wearied with traveling and the Lord grants our faculties tranquility and our soul quiet, and while they are in that state He gives us a clear understanding of the nature of the gifts He bestows upon those whom He brings to His Kingdom. Those to whom, while they are still on earth, He grants what we are asking Him for receive pledges which will give them a great hope of eventually attaining to a perpetual enjoyment of what on earth He only allows them to taste” (The Way of Perfection 30.6).We can now state: There is no life without hope. A double hope, to live on Earth as a beginning of Heaven, giving sense to nowadays suffering, and a future hope of a new Heaven and a new Earth when the Lord comes. Things related to the soul are delicate and we are to be extremely careful to avoid extremes. I point this out because in the 16th century groups of believers, called the alumbrados, understood spiritual life as a stairway. Those who were improving would reject previous steps, that is vocal prayer, which was eliminated for the advanced ones, and when they were in an apparently spiritual height, they considered themselves possessed by the Holy Spirit and free from sin. They not only despised vocal prayer, but any religious popular manifestation. They were pure. Superior to the rest. Teresa, unconnected to this aberration, she explains in chapter 30 of The Way of Perfection, that vocal prayer must always be present among us. Let´s listen to her: “Forgive my wanting to speak of it, for I know there are many people who practise vocal prayer in the manner already described and are raised by God to the higher kind of contemplation (…) I know a person who could never practise anything but vocal prayer but who kept to this and found she had everything else” (The Way of Perfection 30.7) Once we have started the essential part in chapter 30, I´ll summarize chapter 31of the same book, where she keeps on explaining the prayer of quiet. She tells us:
“It is in this kind of prayer, as I have said, that the Lord seems to me to begin to show us that He is hearing our petition: He begins to give us His Kingdom on earth so that we may truly praise Him and hallow His name and strive to make others do so likewise.(…) for it is a state in which the soul enters into peace, or rather in which the Lord gives it peace through His presence, as He did to that just man Simeon. In this state all the faculties are stilled (…) yet it sees that it is in the Kingdom, or at least is near to the King Who will give it the Kingdom” (The Way of Perfection 31.1-2)
Before saying goodbye I´ll quote the paragraph Saint Teresa devotes to the prayer of quiet: ”Out of this recollection grow a certain quietude and inward peace most full of comfort ; for the soul is in such a state that it does not seem to it that it wants anything; for even speaking wearies it, — I mean by this, vocal prayer vand meditation ; it would do nothing but love. This lasts some time, and even a long time.”(Relations 5.4)
We are going to leave it here for the moment. As we are at the entrance of mysticism, this type of prayer is a gift we can ask for ourselves and for others.
Still one kind of prayer-which comes from quiet prayer-to mention; it is called the “sleep of the faculties” (notice that from now on the different ways of living have beautiful names).
Obviously, what has been said about quiet prayer is going to have enormous consequences in the transformation of our hearts, in the knowledge of the interior of our souls and on ethics. The love to our neighbours and to God will definitely change our lives. We have started to live in Heaven just in the middle of coronavirus pandemic and whatever it may come.
With my best wishes and hoping we will let ourselves be led to the world of love, a big hug to everyone confined in quarantine.
(Photo, Brett Sayles / Pexels.com/