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I've been reading on St. Teresa recently. She says:

as water penetrates and is drunk in by the sponge, so, it seemed to me, did the Divinity fill my soul

Does that mean that God is present in the world as water is present in a sponge? (Because the world is present in St. Teresa as in any human being and God fills St. Teresa's soul therefore God is present in the world as water in a sponge)

That strikes me as a little bit non-Christian but rather and again demon-like Japanse style (see Totoro here). Does that mean that the mystics do not have Faith crystal clear but rather obscured by their mysticism and/or feelings? Because how a Lord can be water? How then can he come and judge and, more importantly, how can I then say I have no other gods but My Lord? Because water here is no different from water over there (or differences are not relevant).

Please help me understand.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Flimzy, curiousdannii, Lee Woofenden, El'endia Starman May 25 at 12:53

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I don't think Teresa is describing a theological truth, she is describing an experience. – DJClayworth Aug 21 '12 at 17:21
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The key understanding for this is that God is present everywhere (omnipresence) but He is not Present (capital intentional) everywhere. That is, God doesn't make His Presence manifest everywhere.

With that in mind, the quote becomes a bit clearer. At the outset, a sponge doesn't have any water. Put it in some water though, and the water will start seeping into the sponge. The water fills up the tiny voids present all throughout the sponge and at the end, the sponge is saturated. (Note also that the sponge expands a little; it doesn't drastically change size.) Similarly, most human souls (Christians included) are dry like a sponge, but if we spend time in the Presence of God, His Divinity will slowly fill us up until we are saturated.

There are many, many attributes of God that we don't have vocabulary for, so we say it is like this or like that, which typically implies that the two are not the same (nor do they even have to correspond fully). St. Teresa here uses "as" in the same function. She says God's Divinity filling up the soul is like water filling up a sponge, which is her intended comparison. She didn't intend to imply that God's Divinity had other characteristics of water or that God fills up the world like a sponge; both are out of the scope of this metaphor.

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Thank you Sir! I've upvoted! That's one another Teresa though, not a TV one Mother Teresa! But permit me to beg you to clarify: so God DOES NOT fill the World as water fills the sponge? He fills just St. Teresa's soul? So then Mother Teresa could NOT get that feeling observing the world but through some other means? (I mean she was not like wow what a beautiful say car and here's another one and wow yet another one oh so many (and motorbikes too)!) – Alexander Kulyakhtin Jul 14 '12 at 11:55
@Alex: Thanks for pointing out the Teresa error. :) That said, I would say "no". God does not make His Presence felt everywhere, which is what that would imply. He's certainly omnipresent though. I'm sure Teresa would've made another metaphor with regards to the world. – El'endia Starman Jul 14 '12 at 12:00
Hmm! What are the things through which one can not feel God's presence then? If God does not make his presence felt everywhere then there must be things at any given moment that do not 'have' the presence of God and others that do. Hmm! They should be distinguishable by that criterion then. That would mean there is a criterion higher than God, that's a heresy, no? Or put it the other way we will have a set of ever-changing idols. – Alexander Kulyakhtin Jul 14 '12 at 12:25

I feel St. Teresa is describing the experience of the finite becoming one with the infinite. The infinite is undivided. It is one, but it has the ability to be infinite and finite because it contains duality within its unity. In Christianity we symbolize the infinite as God the Father and in the infinite we find duality or Jesus representing the unity of God the Father in human form. A oneness with an infinity that is endless. It is not a number and doesn't do anything; it just is without end for Eternity. Infinity plus one is still infinity because it is endless, which we Christians substitute the word God. We have many numbers in infinity just like we have an endless number of things in God. Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." He is in infinity and a part of it, but united wholly or totally with it. We are also in infinity, but we are not aware of being totally united with it. The mystics of every religion have pointed to this experience of unity where duality becomes aware of it. The Bible says, “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” We are finite, but we are in God who is infinite if we break up the word infinite we get in the finite, in- finite; therefore, in the infinite we have the finite or duality. John Kuykendall's author page

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