Saint Teresa of Avila - Rapture 1
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself
Now let us return to raptures, and to their most usual characteristics.
Very often they seemed to leave my body as light as if it had lost all its weight, and sometimes so light that I hardly knew whether my feet are touching the ground. But during the rapture itself, the body is very often like a corpse, unable to do anything of itself. It remains all the time in whatever attitude it was in when the rapture came on it; seated, for example, and with the hands open or closed.
The subject rarely loses consciousness. I have occasionally lost it entirely, but not very often and only for a short time. Generally the senses are disturbed; and though absolutely powerless to perform any outward action the subject still hears and sees things, though only dimly, as if from far away. I do not say that he can see and hear when the rapture is at its height; and by 'its height' I mean those times when the faculties are lost because closely united with God.
Then, in my opinion, it neither sees nor hears nor feels. But as I said in describing the previous prayer of union, this complete transformation of the soul in God is of short duration. While it lasts, however, none of the senses perceives or knows what is taking place. We can have no way of understanding this, while we are on earth at least - or rather God cannot wish us to, since we have not the capacity for such understanding. This I have learnt for myself…..
What I am describing lasts only a moment. But as the surge and impulse of the spirit have been violent, the will remains absorbed, even when the other faculties begin to stir again, and remains mistress over all these workings in the body. For though the two restless faculties try to disturb it, it thinks that the fewer enemies it has the better, and so takes care that they shall not do so. Therefore it suspends them entirely, that being the Lord's wish. The eyes are generally closed, although we may not wish to close them, and if occasionally they remain open, the soul, as I have just said, does not perceive anything or pay attention to what it sees.
A person can do very little in this condition, and so will not be capable of doing much when the faculties come to themselves again. But let him to whom the Lord grants this favour not be discouraged when he finds himself in this state, with his body unable to move for many hours, and with his understanding and memory wandering at times……
But often a person who was previously very ill, and racked with severe pain, is left healthy at the end and stronger than before. For a very great gift is received in rapture, and the Lord sometimes wishes the body, as I have said, to enjoy it also, because at such times it is obedient to the will of the soul. When one comes to one's senses, it sometimes happens, if the rapture has been deep, that for a day or two, or even three, the faculties are so absorbed or in such a stupor that they seem no longer to be themselves.
Henceforth the soul wants nothing of its own, only to do everything for His greater glory and according to His will.