Thursday, August 26, 2004

26 August -- The Feast of the Transverberation of St. Teresa of Jesus

This is an old feast in the Discalced Carmelite calendar, although it used to be celebrated tomorrow on the 27th of August as the feast "In Transverberatione Cordis S. Teresiae Virginae, Matris Nostrae". Bernini's famous statue shown above commemorates the event as the angel pierces the heart of St. Teresa with a lance which fills her with delight and a longing for heaven. Inflammatum est cor meum, et renes mei commutati sunt as one of the old antiphons used to have it.

The second reading in the present Discalced Carmelite Office of Readings is taken from The Living Flame of Love of St. John of the Cross. This very appropriate reading names-no-names but is believed to be St. John's own description of St. Teresa's mystical experience.

You Have Wounded My Heart

As MOSES DECLARES in Deuteronomy, 'Our Lord is a consuming fire,' that is, a fire of love, which being of infinite power, can inestimably consume and transform into itself the soul it touches. Yet he burns each soul according to its preparation: he will burn one more, another less, and this he does in so far as he desires, and how and when he desires. When he wills to touch somewhat vehemently, the soul's burning reaches such a high degree of love that it seems to surpass that of all the fires of the world: for he is an infinite fire of love. Because the soul in this case is entirely transformed by the divine flame, it not only feels a cautery, but has become a cautery of blazing fire.

It is a wonderful thing and worth relating that, since this fire of God is so mighty it would consume a thousand worlds more easily than the fire of this earth would burn up a straw, it does not consume and destroy the soul in which it so burns. And it does not afflict it: rather, commensurate with the strength of the love, it divinizes and delights it, burning gently.

Since God's purpose in granting these communications is to exalt the soul, he does not weary and restrict it, but enlarges and delights it, brightens and enriches it.
The happy soul that by great fortune reaches this cautery knows all things, tastes all things, does all it wishes, and prospers; no one prevails before it and nothing touches it. This is the soul of which the Apostle speaks: The spiritual man judges all things and he is judged by no one.' And again: 'The spirit searches out all things, unto the deep things of God.'

It will happen that while the soul is inflamed with the love of God, it will feel that a seraph is assailing it by means of an arrow or dart which is all afire with love. And the seraph pierces and in an instant cauterizes this soul which, like a red-hot coal, or better a flame, is already enkindled. The soul is converted into an immense fire of love.

Few persons have reached these heights. Some have, however; especially those whose virtue and spirit were to be diffused among their children. For God accords to founders, with respect to the first fruits of the spirit, wealth and value commensurate with the greater or lesser following they will have in their doctrine and spirituality.

O happy wound, wrought by one who knows only how to heal! O fortunate and choicest wound; you were made only for delight, and the quality of your affliction is delight and gratification for the wounded soul! You are great, O delightful wound, because he who caused you is great!

And your delight is great, because the fire of love is infinite. O, then, delightful wound, so much more sublimely delightful the more the cautery touched the intimate center of the substance of the soul, burning all that was burnable in order to give delight to all that could be delighted!


R. The Lord our God is one Lord. * You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.
W. The Lord your God is a consuming fire. * You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Here is the old collect for this feast:

Deus, qui illibata praecordia beatae Virginis Teresiae Sponsae tuae ac Matris nostrae ignito jaculo transfixisti, et caritatis victimam consecrasti : ipsa interveniente concede; ut corda nostra ardore Sancti Spiritus ferveant, et te in omnibus super omnia diligant : Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre, in unitate ejusdem. Amen.