Tomorrow, Discalced Carmelites and the community of Apostoli Viae celebrate the feast of the Transverberation (or Transpierecing of the Heart) of St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin, Doctor, and Reformer of the Carmelite Order. The transverberation is a mystical grace wherein the Saint’s heart was pierced with a “dart of love” by an angel. St. John of the Cross writes that “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.” St Teresa describes the experience in the Book of her Life ““I saw an angel beside me toward the left side, in bodily form. He was not very large, but small, very beautiful, his face so blazing with light that he seemed to be one of the very highest angels, who appear all on fire. They must be those they call Cherubim…I saw in his hands a long dart of gold, and at the end of the iron there seemed to me to be a little fire. This I thought he thrust through my heart several times, and that it reached my very entrails. As he withdrew it, I thought it brought them with it, and left me all burning with a great love of God. So great was the pain, that it made me give those moans; and so utter the sweetness that this sharpest of pains gave me, that there was no wanting it to stop, nor is there any contenting of the soul with less than God”.
The first reading is from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians (13: 1-10, 12-13) where St Paul reminds us that “Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.”
In the Gospel from St John (14:23-27) we hear Jesus’ words “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.”
Photo by Dan Burke - Statue by Bernini in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome