Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spiritual Marriage

We enter the very center of our souls at the invitation of God and find him resting there. God--in his human face, Jesus Christ--appears to the soul in an intellectual vision (that is, in her soul, though sometimes before her physical eyes as well) and tells her that she has received the grace of marriage to God. The Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--manifest themselves to her so that she is "certain" of this mystery as well.

For the rest of her life on earth, the soul moves in an experiential certainty of the mysteries of God and lives always in his presence. In all previous mansions, the soul would have a taste here and there of God's presence. Now, she lives in love and is always consumed by love. "... Spiritual marriage is like rain falling from heaven into a river or stream, becoming one and the same liquid, so that the river and rain water cannot be divided; or it resembles a stream flowing into the ocean, which cannot afterwards be disunited from it. This marriage may also be likened to a room into which a bright light enters through two windows--though divided when it enters, the light becomes one and the same."

The seventh and final mansion is truly our home. When Therese of Lisieux or Elizabeth of the Trinity insist that they live already in heaven, they speak of this interior union with God. Many of the pains of the sixth mansions are laid to rest since "the little butterfly has died with the greatest joy at having found rest at last, and now Christ lives in her." The suffering caused by any remainder of self in the soul ceases.

Teresa writes that, though the soul now belongs entirely to God, she does not abandon the world. On the contrary, her divine life allows her to do far more on earth than ever before. Her new suffering comes from not being able to do all she would wish to do for God: physical illness, her own weakness of mind, or persecution by others may prevent her from serving him in every way she imagines. But all suffering is welcomed now by the soul--everything that comes to her comes from her spouse, and she sees the world in a new way.

Calm and peace characterize the seventh mansion: the soul hardly ever experiences the flights of rapture, "slaying in the spirit," or ecstatic "darts of love." The soul instead lives in peace, utterly and solely fed by her Master. Teresa concludes, "I assure you, sisters, such souls have their cross to bear, yet it does not trouble them nor rob them of their peace, but is quickly gone like a wave or a storm which is followed by a calm, for God's presence within them soon makes them forget all else."

This is home at last--the final doorway to heaven. I think that in the seventh mansion I find all the answers to my qualms and puzzlements over the fifth and sixth mansions. If they were but necessary steps to this, then, let it be. May we all reach our home. Amen.


Anonymous said...

Such wonderful reflections. Thank you so much for taking the time to share them.

Charity said...

I just read through all seven mansion posts. I think my socks flew all the way to the other side of the house. How have I been so limited in my vision of what God is calling me to? I have a LOT of work to do. Lord help me in my weakness.
Thank you, Erika, for making this so accessible to me!