Wednesday, April 24, 2013

St. Teresa, Shock and Trauma

I've thought a lot this week about a class Father Stephen Watson, OCD taught at our last secular Carmelite meeting. He was teaching us about “St. Teresa and the Resurrection,” from Volume 1, Testimony #12 by Kieran.

In this example, St. Teresa of Avila had emotionally merged so much with the passion of our Lord Jesus and identified so much with the experience of His mother that she was unable to be happy and celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday. St. Teresa was still deep in mourning for what our Lord had experienced. She even said her “hands grew numb in affliction.” Her soul became suspended. St. Teresa experienced something known as a “rapture of affliction.”

I had never heard of this, but a “rapture of affliction” is an experience that takes us beyond ourselves but not in the sense of ecstasy. While in this state, St. Teresa contemplated Jesus and Mary. In her contemplation, she saw Jesus with Mary after the resurrection. Mary was in such trauma after the experience of watching God, her son, be tortured to death, she could not shake herself out of it. She stared, numb, as if “shell-shocked” even when her son returned from the dead in his glorified body. She needed help, and he stayed with her a long time, St. Teresa said. So, St. Teresa let Jesus “stay with her a long time” as He did with His mother, helping her to recover from all of that agony in order to celebrate new life.

Nowhere in the Bible is there reference to Jesus going to visit His mother, but that was a personal thing and not a public one. I can imagine the disciples would not feel this relevant to include while recording Jesus's public mission. Perhaps this was one of the many things that happened that was not written? Regardless of whether Jesus was there to help comfort Mother Mary in her trauma, He will always be there for us.

How often does that happen to us, after an occasion such as the Boston Marathon bombing or one of the many school shootings or other mass murders our nation has faced? Trauma is a fact of life. Our Blessed Mother may have gone through it. It is during our deepest trauma that Jesus comes to us and wants to help heal us until we are able once again, to celebrate His resurrection and the miracle of life. He is always there, patient and waiting, even if we are too in shock to see Him there.


  1. Just wanted to say Hi and so happy to have found your blog through a Catholic blog network. I am OCDS in Philadelphia, PA...professed in 2009.

    God has led me to many sisters in Carmel through by blogging. I look forward to following along : )

  2. Thank you, Theresa. I'm happy you found it- I love being able to share with sisters in Carmel because we share the same heart.