Teresa considered that her vocation and her mission was prayer in the Church and with the Church, which is a praying community moved by the Holy Spirit to adore the Father in and with Jesus "in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:23). . . . Saint Teresa considered the life of prayer to be the greatest manifestation of the theological life of the faithful who, believing in the love of God, free themselves from everything to attain the full presence of that love (L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, November 9, 1981).
I still want to describe this prayer of quiet to you in the way that I have heard it explained and as the Lord has been pleased to teach it to me. . . . This is a supernatural state and however hard we try, we cannot acquire it by ourselves. . . . The faculties are stilled and have no wish to move, for any movement they make seems to hinder the soul from loving God. They are not completely lost, however, since two of them are free and they can realize in whose presence they are. It is the will that is captive now. . . . The intellect tries to occupy itself with only one thing, and the memory has no desire to busy itself with more. They both see that this is the one thing necessary; anything else will cause them to be disturbed (chap. 31).
It may be that I am contradicting what I myself have said elsewhere. This is not surprising, because almost fifteen years have passed since then, and perhaps the Lord has now given me a clearer realization of these matters than I had at first (Fourth Mansions, chap. 2).
First of all, I will say something (though not much, as I have dealt with it elsewhere) about another kind of prayer, which almost invariably begins before this one. It is a form of recollection which also seems to me supernatural. . . . Do not think that the soul can attain to him merely by trying to think of him as present within the soul. This is a good habit and an excellent kind of meditation, for it is founded on a truth, namely, that God is within us. But it is not the kind of prayer that I have in mind. . . . What I am describing is quite different.As I understand it, the soul whom the Lord has been pleased to lead into this mansion will do best to act as I have said.. Let it try, without forcing itself or causing any turmoil, to put a stop to all discursive reasoning, yet not to suspend the intellect nor to cease from all thought, although it is good for it to remember that it is in God's presence and who this God is. If this experience should lead to a state of absorption, well and good, but it should not try to understand what this state is, because it is a gift bestowed on the will. Therefore, the will should be allowed to enjoy it and should not be active except to utter a few loving words (Fourth Mansions, chap. 3).
You must not build on foundations of prayer and contemplation alone, for unless you strive after the virtues and practice them, you will never grow to be more than dwarfs. . . . Anyone who fails to go forward begins to fall back, and love, I believe, can never be content for long where it is.You may think that I am speaking about beginners, and that later on one may rest; but. . .the only repose that these souls enjoy is of an interior kind; of outward repose they get less and less. . . . We should desire and engage in prayer, not for our enjoyment, but for the sake of acquiring the strength which fits us for service. . . . Believe me, Martha and Mary must work together. . . . I will end by saying that we must not build towers without foundations, and that the Lord does not look so much at the magnitude of anything we do as at the love with which we do it. If we accomplish what we can, His Majesty will see to it that we become able to do more each day (Seventh Mansions, chap. 4).
- Vocal Prayer, with attention to what one is saying or reading and God, whom one is addressing.
- Discursive Meditation: consideration of a spiritual truth; application to oneself, and resolve to do something about it.
- Affective Mental Prayer: one turns to "other," namely, God, and prayer becomes "the language of love."
- Acquired Recollection: also called prayer of simplicity, prayer of simple regard, acquired contemplation, the loving awareness of God.
- Infused Recollection: the first degree of infused, mystical contemplation.
- Prayer of Quiet: the will is totally captivated by divine love; sometimes all the faculties are likewise captivated (sleep or ecstasy).
- Prayer of Simple Union: both the intellect and the will are absorbed in God.
- Prayer of Ecstatic Union: this is the "mystical espousal" or "conforming union."
- Prayer of Transforming Union: also called the "mystical marriage" because it is the most intimate union of the soul with God that is possible in this life.