Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila

FIRST MANSIONS

Chapter I

Treats of the beauty and dignity of our souls; makes a comparison by the help of which this may be understood; describes the benefit which comes from understanding it and being aware of the favors which we received from God; and shows how the door of this castle is prayer.

3. The soul of a righteous person is nothing but a paradise, in which, as God tells us, He takes His delight.

4. Through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are.

6. If this castle is the soul, there can clearly be no question of our entering it. For we ourseleves are the castle: and it would be absurd to tell someone to enter a room when he was in it already! But you must understand that there are many ways of “being” in a place. Many souls remain in the outer court of the castle, which is the place occupied by the guards; they are not interested in entering it, and have no idea what there is in that wonderful place, or who dwells in it, or even how many rooms it has.

6. there are souls so infirm and so accustomed to busying themselves with outside affairs that nothing can be done for them, and it seems as though they are incapable of entering within themselves at all. So accustomed have they grown to living all the time … in the outer court of the castle….although by nature they are so richly endowed as to have the power of holding converse with none other than God Himself, there is nothing that can be done for them. Unless they strive to realize their miserable condition and to remedy it, they will turned into pillars of salt for not looking within themselves, just as Lot’s wife was because she looked back.

Chapter II

Describes the hideousness of a soul in mortal sin, some part of which God was pleased to manifest to a certain person. Says something also of self knowledge.… Explains in what sense the Mansions are to be understood

15. [Self-reflection is continually needed; we should continually return to these rooms. However, she describes the advantage of visiting other rooms in gaining further perspective on self-knowledge. She mentions visiting God’s majesty as a way to more greatly understand Him as the Source of our good works. By so visiting other rooms we can…] “Disengage themselves from the slough of cowardice pusillanimity and fear [where] We shall always be glancing around and saying: “are people looking at me or not? “”If I take a certain path shall I come to any harm? “”Dear I begin such and such a task? “”Is it pride that is in telling me to do so?”

This is similar to what M. Thomas’ mentor admonished him – When Michael said that he felt like it would be arrogant of him to think he was worthy of taking on a presidency of a college, his mentor said, “don’t be arrogant! Be humble enough to be willing to look arrogant even though you were looking at the door as potentially open and that could be interpreted as arrogantly thinking you are presidential material. Rather be humble enough to realize that the people are asking for your help.

17. it is as if one were to enter a place flooded by sunlight with his eyes so full of dust that he could hardly open them. The room itself is light enough, but he cannot enjoy the light… This seems to me to be the condition of a sore which, though not in a bad state, is so completely absorbed in the things of the world and so deeply immersed, as I have said, in possession or honors or business, that, although, as a matter of fact it would like to gaze at the castle and enjoy its beauty, it is prevented from doing so, and seems quite unable to free itself from all these impediments. Everyone however who wishes to enter the second mateseems quiteit is as if one were to enter a place flooded by sunlight with his eyes so full of dust that he could hardly open them. The room itself is light enough, but he cannot enjoy the light… This seems to me to be the condition of a sore which, though not in a bad state, is so completely absorbed in the things of the world and so deeply immersed, as I have said, in possession or honors or business, that, although, as a matter of fact it would like to gaze at the castle and enjoy its beauty, it is prevented from doing so, and seems Quite unable to three itself from all these impediments. Everyone, however, who wishes to enter the second mansions, will be well advised, as far as his state of life permits, to try and put aside all unnecessary affairs and business.… For being among such a poisonous things, it cannot, at sometime or another, escaped being bitten by them..

SECOND MANSIONS

In which there is only one chapter.

Chapter I

Treats of the great importance of perseverance if we are to reach the final mansions and of the fierce war which the devil wage is against us. Tells how essential it is if we are to attain our goal, not to miss our way at the beginning. Give us a method which has proved very efficacious.

29. Believe me, unless we have peace, and strive for peace in our own home, we shall not find it in the homes of others. … by the blood of Christ shed for us, I beg this of those who have not begun to enter within themselves…

30. … recollection cannot be begun by making strenuous efforts, but must come gently , after which you will be able to practice it for longer periods at a time.

30-31. It is absurd to think the we can enter Heaven without first entering our own souls – without getting to know ourselves, and reflecting upon the wretchedness of our nature and what we owe to God, and continually imploring His mercy…..Well,if we never look at Him or think of what we owe Him and of the death which He suffered for our sakes, I do not see how we can get to know Him or to do good works in His service. For what can be the value of faith without works, or if works which are not united with the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ? And what but such thoughts can arouse us to love this Lord?

31. May it please His Majesty to grant us to understand how must we cost Him…

31. We must perforce pray.