St. Teresa's Nine Grades of Prayer

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Preface:

St. Teresa's teaching on the following grades of prayer clearly shows us that in varying degrees all souls on earth are invited to Grade Nine in prayer, a prelude to Heaven. Since each of us is born to spend eternity with God in Heaven and that everyone living in Heaven now is praying at least in Grade Ten, we can safely assert that every single person in the whole humanity without exception is created to attain Grade Nine here and reach Grade Ten in Heaven. If Grade Nine is Heaven on earth, then Grade Ten is Heaven in Heaven. There is always sufficient grace to do so. Everything depends really on our unceasing cooperation with God's superabundant grace.

Souls, who pray and live oftentimes in a higher grade of prayer on earth, live and pray oftentimes in a higher level towards Heaven on earth. Apparently, if a soul in the state of grace cannot reach or maintain Grade Nine of Prayer upon death, then there seems to be three possible ways in which she would reach Grade Ten in Heaven: a) she may have to be given God's special mercy, e.g., a baby who dies prematurely; b) she may have to be given God's gracious intervention, e.g., a martyr in Grade 5 who would go to Heaven instantly; or c) she may have to be given extra time and grace to complete her homework in Purgatory. It appears that most of us have yet to do our very assignment here on earth.

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Introduction:

Although the editor of this present website attempts to integrate the following with the Eastern Orthodox concept of God's Energy as God's grace, the essence of it is taken from Jordan Aumann, O.P., Spiritual Theology (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1980) pp.316-357. Credits are hence due to the Holy Spirit, St. Teresa of Avila, and Rev. Prof. Jordan Aumann. To obtain the best results, readers may have to read and re-read the pages in Spiritual Theology or those in St. Teresa's works. Indeed, the purpose of this summary is reached if it could help inspire readers to further study and progress in the nine grades of prayer as taught by this woman Doctor of the Church (1515-1582). Fr. Aumann notes (Ibid., p.316):

"We are indebted to St. Teresa of Avila for the clearest and best classification of the grades of prayer. Her concept that the intensity of one's life of prayer coincides with the intensity of one's charity is based on solid theology and was confirmed by St. Pius X, who stated that the grades of prayer taught by St. Teresa represent so many grades of elevation and ascent toward Christian perfection.

These grades are (1) vocal prayer, (2) meditation, (3) affective prayer, (4) prayer of simplicity, (5) infused contemplation, (6) prayer of quiet, (7) prayer of union, (8) prayer of conforming union, and (9) prayer of transforming union. The first four grades belong to the predominantly ascetical stage of spiritual life; the remaining five grades are infused prayer and belong to the mystical phase of spiritual life."

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A Christian more perfect in loving God and others is one who prays more perfectly or powerfully. Living and praying in a higher grade of prayer is living and praying in a greater intensity of love, grace or Divine Energy. All are called to be filled with God's grace, resembling Holy Mary who was "full of grace" in the ninth grade while living on earth.

For a summary of Grade One of Prayer, click here.

For a summary of Grade Two of Prayer, click here.

For a summary of Grade Three of Prayer, click here.

For a summary of Grade Four of Prayer, click here .

For a summary of Grade Five of Prayer, click here.

For a summary of Grade Six of Prayer, click here.

For a summary of Grade Seven of Prayer, click here.

For a summary of Grade Eight of Prayer, click here.

For a summary of Grade Nine of Prayer, click here.

* St. Teresea clearly did not mention any grade of prayer beyond the above. The following two grades of prayer belong simply to the imperfect imagination of the editor: For a summary of Grade Ten of Prayer, click here; and for a summary of the Infinite Uncreated Grade of Prayer, click here. The editor, being aware of all his imperfections, dares not compare himself with any holy person. He is just using his imagination in the Lord. Praise God the Holy Trinity! (December 8, 1998)
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