Saint Teresa of Avila - Martha and Mary
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila by Herself
This state of prayer seems to me a most definite union of the whole soul with God, complete but for the fact that His Majesty appears to allow the faculties to be conscious of and to enjoy the great work that He is doing.
Sometimes - indeed very often - the will being in union, the soul is unaware of it and sees that it is rejoicing in its captivity. There is the will, alone and abiding in great peace, while the understanding and the memory, on the other hand, are so free that they can attend to business or do works of charity - I tell you this, my Father, so that you may see that it can happen, and may recognize the experience when it comes to you: I myself was driven quite frantic by it, and that is why I speak of it here.
Although it may appear to be the same, this differs from the prayer of quiet of which I have spoken. In that first state the soul does not wish to move or stir but delights in the blessed repose of a Mary, whereas in this second state it can be like Martha also. Thus it is, as it were, leading the active and the contemplative life at once, and can apply itself to works of charity, to its professional business and to reading as well. Yet in this state we are not wholly masters of ourselves, but are well aware that the better part of the soul is elsewhere.