Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa

Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, Santa Maria Della Vittoria, Rome

All the paradoxes about the contemplative way are reduced to this one: being without desire means being led by a desire so great that it is incomprehensible. … It is a blind desire, which seems like a desire for “nothing” only because nothing can content it. … But true emptiness is that which transcends all things, and yet is immanent in all. For what seems to be emptiness in this case is pure being. It is not this, not that. … The character of emptiness, at least for a Christian contemplative is pure love, pure freedom. Love that is free of everything, not determined by any thing or held down by any special relationship. It is love for love’s sake. It is a sharing, through the Holy Spirit, in the infinite charity of God. … This purity, freedom and indeterminateness of love is the very essence of Christianity. ~Thomas Merton, The Climate of Monastic Prayer