Can You Imagine the Ecstasy of the Holy Saints?

Can You Imagine the Ecstasy of the Holy Saints? May 25, 2023

Can You Imagine the Ecstasy of the Holy Saints
François Gérard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from the original

There is a famous sculpture in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome known as the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa.

It was so titled because it was inspired by a mystical experience in the life of the saint. Also known as the Transverberation of Saint Teresa, it depicts the saint in ecstasy while an angel thrusts a dart of love into her heart.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons/ Cropped from original

Here is an account of St. Teresa’s experience when an angel pierced her heart with a dart of holy love:

“I saw in his hand 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. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.” – St. Teresa of Avila

Can we even start to imagine how it felt like for your heart to be wounded with holy love?

Perhaps the best comparison we can think of is the happiness we feel through our experience of falling in love with another person. It is falling so deeply in love and loving a person so much you could almost feel your chest bursting out of your overflowing love! And yet even that pales in comparison to the supernatural happiness of the saints.

The Prayer of Quiet

Even before the said mystical experience, St. Teresa of Avila had already experienced that kind of supernatural joy that can only come from God.

In her account regarding the “prayer of quiet”, she describes how this could be the start of one’s supernatural experience of God’s love:

“Everything that takes place now in this state brings the very greatest consolation…The tears, which God now sends, flow with joy; though we feel them, they are not the result of any efforts of our own…for the soul is already ascending out of its wretched state, and some little knowledge of the blissfulness of glory is communicated to it…”

“The prayer of quiet, then, is a little spark of the true love of Himself, which our Lord begins to enkindle in the soul; and His will is, that the soul should understand what this love is by the joy it brings…”

“As soon as the soul has arrived thus far, it begins to lose the desire of earthly things, and no wonder; for it sees clearly that, even for a moment, this joy is not to be had on earth; that there are no riches, no dominion, no honours, no delights, that can for one instant, even for the twinkling of an eye, minister such a joy; for it is a true satisfaction, and the soul sees that it really does satisfy.”

The Happiness of the Saints

How often have you heart about the happiness found by the saints in God? Have you ever thought about it more deeply?

Although we must be very careful that following God is not all about feelings of elation, we must not also disregard the reality of the bliss we can only find in God.

This is the kind of happiness that enabled them to sacrifice everything. No earthly happiness or pleasure could ever compare to the joy these saints have found!

Here are some more excerpts from the saints who have experienced incomparable happiness in God:

1. St. Therese of Lisieux

“A few days after the oblation of myself to God’s Merciful Love, I was in the choir, beginning the Way of the Cross, when I felt myself suddenly wounded by a dart of fire so ardent that I thought I should die. I do not know how to explain this transport; there is no comparison to describe the intensity of that flame. It seemed as though an invisible force plunged me wholly into fire… But oh! what fire! what sweetness!”

When Mother Prioress asked her if this rapture was the first she had experienced, she answered simply: “Dear Mother, I have had several transports of love, and one in particular during my Noviciate, when I remained for a whole week far removed from this world. It seemed as though a veil were thrown over all earthly things. But, I was not then consumed by a real fire. I was able to bear those transports of love without expecting to see the ties that bound me to earth give way; whilst, on the day of which I now speak, one minute—one second—more and my soul must have been set free. Alas! I found myself again on earth, and dryness at once returned to my heart.”

(The Story of a Soul)

2. St. Faustina Kowalska

“Suddenly, when I had consented to the sacrifice with all my heart and all my will, God’s presence pervaded me. My soul became immersed in God and was inundated with such happiness that I cannot put in writing even the smallest part of it. I felt that His Majesty was enveloping me. I was extraordinarily fused with God. I saw that God was well pleased with me and, reciprocally, my spirit drowned itself in Him.”

“Aware of this union with God, I felt I was especially loved and, in turn, I loved with all my soul… It seemed to me that I would die of love [at the sight of] His glance. I spoke much with the Lord, without uttering a single word… At that moment I felt transconsecrated. My earthly body was the same, but my soul was different; God was now living in it with the totality of His delight.”

(Divine Mercy In My Soul)

3. St. Teresa of the Andes

“Believe me. I’m speaking to you sincerely: I used to believe it was impossible ever to fall in love with a God who is unseen; with someone who can’t be hugged and touched. But today, I can affirm with my hand over my heart, that God completely makes up for that sacrifice. You feel that love so much, and those caresses from Our Lord that is seems God is there by your side.”

“I feel Him so intimately united to me, that I want nothing more, except the beatific vision in heaven. I feel I’m filled with God, and then I hold Him close to my heart and ask Him to make me experience the perfections of His love. There’s no separation between us.”

“Wherever I go, God is with me in my poor heart. That’s the little house where I dwell; it’s my heaven here on earth. I live with God; and despite being on walks, we converse with each other without anyone being able to surprise us or interrupt us. If you knew Him enough, you would love Him. If you were with Him for one hour, you’d know just what heaven on earth is.”

(The Letters of Saint Teresa of Jesus of the Andes, Translated by Michael D. Griffin, O.C.D. )

Final thoughts

God loves us and offers us a life of eternity in heaven with Him. A life of unending and incomparable happiness!

If you have yet to know this kind of happiness, I urge you to pray today and ask Him for this grace. Ask that you may know Him more and that you may know His love better.

Wouldn’t you like to taste even a little of the supernatural joys of heaven?

“Rouse yourselves, my sisters, and since some foretaste of heaven may be had on earth, beg our Lord to give us grace not to miss it through our own fault. Ask Him to show us where to find it—ask Him to give us strength of soul to dig until we find this hidden treasure, which lies buried within our hearts, as I wish to show you if it please God to enable me.” – St. Teresa of Avila

Also see “Have You Ever Wondered How Happy You Could Be in Heaven?”

You may want to get my e-book “What Should You Look Forward To In Heaven?”

About Jocelyn Soriano
Jocelyn Soriano is an author, poet, and book reviewer. She is an introvert who enjoys a cup of coffee and listening to the cello ****** while working.

She wrote the books To Love an Invisible God, Defending My Catholic Faith and Mend My Broken Heart. She also wrote books on poetry including Poems of Love and Letting Go and Of Waves and Butterflies: Poems on Grief. She has published more than 15 books and developed her own Android applications including God’s Promises and Catholic Answers and Apologetics.

She writes about relationships and common questions about God and the Catholic faith at Single Catholic Writer. She is currently single and happy and she would like everyone to know how happy we can be by drawing close to the love of God!

You can read more about the author here.

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