CHRIST JESUS IN THE TERESIAN PRAYER
St. Teresa suggests that in order for mental prayer to be fruitful, we must first examine our conscience, confess our sins and sign ourselves with the Cross. Then, she asks that we look for the best companion to pray with and this is Jesus Himself.
She says: “ Believe me, you should stay with so good a Friend for as long as you can before you leave Him. If you become accustomed to having Him at your side, as if He sees that you love Him to be there and are always trying to please Him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send Him away.” Way of Perfection p. 107-108
This method is for all and it is helpful at all stages in bringing Christ into our lives. She states that this method should be the beginning, the middle and the end of prayer. It is a safe road until the Lord leads us to other methods which are supernatural. She says that everyone must make his prayer with the person of Christ until God raises the soul higher.(seventh mansion)
She explains that we do not have to have an imagination that pictures Him present. We only need to use our faith, our belief that He is near and this is sufficient. She says that this gaze of faith is always possible. She says: “If words do not fail you when you talk to people on earth, why should they do so when you talk to God. Do not imagine that they will – I shall certainly not believe that they have done so if you once form the habit.” Way of Perfection p. 109
She says that in all the states of the spiritual life one must return to the humanity of our Lord and never withdraw from it as long as grace does not lead us elsewhere. In this she could invoke the authority of Christ: For the Lord Himself says that He is the Way; the Lord also says that He is light and that no one can come to the Father save by Him; and he that seeth Me seeth my Father! John 14:6
In other words, the humanity veils the divinity only for those who, like the apostles before the Ascension, are timid in faith. For those, on the contrary, who believe firmly in the divinity and have already reached higher stages of prayer, following the example of the Blessed Virgin, the sacred humanity brings a help to that faith.
The Word became incarnate in order to save us and to also put Himself within our reach, to adapt His teaching to the duality of our nature which is made up of body and spirit. Jesus dwelt among us, embodied in this nature.
St. Teresa states: “We are not angels and we have bodies. To want to become angels while we are still on earth.. is ridiculous. As a rule, our thought must have something to lean upon, though sometimes the soul may go out from itself and very often may be so full of God that it will need no created thing to assist it in recollection. But this is not very usual when we are busy, or suffering persecutions or trials, when we cannot get as much quiet as we should like, and at seasons of aridity, we have a very good friend in Christ.” Way of Perfection p. 140
We can only progress in prayer by using the mediation of Christ. This mediation is more especially necessary after the contemplative graces of the fourth Mansions. If the soul does not then go back to Christ, it will not find liberty of spirit and will make no progress.
“I believe myself that this is the reason why many souls, after succeeding in experiencing the Prayer of Union, do not make further progress and achieve a very great spiritual freedom.” Life, Ch. 22 p. 138
The error they make, we can guess, is to abandon Jesus Christ and they will certainly not go higher.
“At any rate, I can assure them that they will not enter these last two mansions; for if they lose their Guide, the good Jesus, they will be unable to find their way; they will do well if they are able to remain securely in the other Mansions.” Mansion VI, p. 305
Fr. Marie Eugene points out the practices of little St. Therese. She liked to meditate on the Infant Jesus in the crib, or being carried up to Heaven in the arms of Jesus. Also, she would meditate on the holy wounds of the Holy Face of Jesus. This was the “elevator” that lifted her soul quickly to the summit of the mountain as she had hoped and longed for.
Fr. Marie Eugene points out that in the early paradise, our first parents, endowed as they were with the supernatural gift of grace, talked familiarly with God and attained to Him without an intermediary. Their sin separated them from God and left between divinity and humanity an impassable abyss.
God then put into effect a new plan to replace the one that sin rendered ineffectual. In this new plan, the Incarnate Word is the universal and unique Mediator. God, Who had created everything by His Word, decrees that all will be restored by the Word Incarnate. According to the word of Scripture, He has been made “a Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech”. Heb. 7:17
During the course of His public life, our Lord revealed and explained progressively His mediation: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”John 14:6 By Him alone the divine light and grace can descend here below; by Him alone we have access to the throne of the Father of light and mercy.
Most beautifully, Fr. Marie Eugene explains that His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity can be found in the Eucharist. “I am the bread of life…He who eats My flesh and drinks My Blood has life everlasting. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood you shall not have life in you.” John 6:48-55 The words are clear: one can have life ONLY by communion with Jesus Christ. He states that the other sacraments themselves have efficacy only by their relation to the Holy Eucharist; such as Baptism, which has efficacy only by the vow of the baptized to receive the Eucharist. --- Holy Communion transforms. Jesus comes as a conquerer to transform us into His light and His charity. “I am the vine, you are the branches… If anyone does not abide in me, he shall be cast outside as the branch and wither; and they shall gather them up and cast them into the fire…without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5-6
All our supernatural life is linked to our union with Jesus Christ. Separated from Him, we are nothing. This unity is the reason for the Incarnation and the Redemption – it is vital for our souls and for the Church. The Church is Christ diffused in His members. By this holy humanity of Christ, the Word lays hold on and draws after Him all men who let themselves be taken captive by His grace.
The whole Christ extended and complete is placed, by His unity with the Word, under the eternally fruitful paternity of the Father of light and mercy; and with Him breathes forth the Love that is the Holy Spirit Who, as Spirit of the Father and the Son, becomes in consequence the Spirit of the Church and ours.
Such is the plan of God that envelops us, and the design that He wants to realize in us and by us. We shall belong to Christ Jesus or we shall not have supernatural life.
Fr. Marie Eugene ends the chapter by describing that St. Teresa leads us in the Interior Castle by way of Jesus. The first three mansions are fixed untiringly on the good Jesus. The fourth and fifth mansions manifest the Wisdom of the Word. The sixth mansion shares in the sorrowful mysteries of Christ while waiting until it participates in the triumph of His Life in the transforming union of the seventh mansion.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!
Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene