This past Friday, August 26th, the Carmelites celebrated the memorial of the Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila. The word transverberation means “pierced through” and is a mystical grace that St. Teresa received where her heart was pierced with a “dart of love” by an angel. She so longed to be filled with love and zeal for Our Lord that He deemed to grant her this grace and draw her even closer to Him as His bride. St. Teresa describes the vision in her autobiography:
“I saw in his hand (the angel’s) a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God.”
She goes on to say that although the pain was great, it was also so sweet that she did not wish to be rid of it. The result of this piercing, she says, is that the soul is now satisfied with nothing less than God and there is a constant “caress of love” that takes place between the soul and God.
When we reflect on this grace given to St. Teresa, it’s easy to come to realize that this is what God wants for each one of us. Jesus says in St. Luke’s Gospel, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (12:49). This fire is the fire of love that St. Teresa of Avila was blessed to experience, and God wants that same fire kindled in the hearts of every person on earth so that they might love Him and serve Him as they were created to. The trouble is that not everyone wants this grace as badly as St. Teresa did. We get sucked up in the cares of the world and we give our love to those things instead of to God and so our attitude toward Him becomes more and more lukewarm until we find that we don’t care as much about Him as we might have before. It puts out the fire of love that is meant to enflame each one of us.
To guard against this, we must ask God constantly for the grace to always love Him and be filled with zeal for His Kingdom at every moment of our lives. We must ask that we be pierced through with a dart of love, as St. Teresa was, so that we will be satisfied with nothing other than God and always feel His love for us in return. In the third Glorious Mystery, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, we ask for the grace to be zealous for God and we can also ask for the intercession of the prophet Elijah, whose motto has become the motto of the Carmelite Order: “With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts.” And of course, we should also ask St. Teresa of Avila for help in desiring this great love of and zeal for God. If we truly desire it, she will certainly be more than happy to intercede for us.
May we be pierced through and burn with that fire of love which Jesus wishes to enflame in the hearts of all creatures. St. Teresa and St. Elijah, pray for us!