The Interior Castle or the Mansions – Teresa of Avila – The Soul’s Union with God

St Teresa of Avila The Interior Castle IHS I think it may console you to enjoy yourselves in this interior castle which you can enter, and walk about at will, at any hour you please, without asking leave of your superiors.... When once you have learnt how to enjoy this castle, you will always find rest, however painful your trials may be, in the hope of returning to your Lord, which no one can prevent....If you find anything in the plan of this treatise which helps you to know Him better, be certain that it is sent by His Majesty to encourage you, and that whatever you find amiss in it is my own. mythoughts,  thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God, David Reese

A mystic believes that people have the ability to interact with deity, the extent varies. A Christian Mystic believes that  our purpose is to have this union with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit  discloses to us  that which belongs to the Son, and the Son says, “All that the Father has is mine.”  It is God in us, a mystery  to those who have yet to come to Jesus as savior. I pray that He stir in you a desire for more of Him and that He gather your desire and take you into the mansions of the soul where there is rapture in union with Him. Here we begin to perceive that we are living deeper and deeper into the Kingdom of God where these earthen vessels are imprinted with the command to love the Lord your God and to love others, so that the entirety of  our being yearns to love.

26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.…

Jesus Christ, living in the hearts and souls of  those called out, τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, to be his bride is a mystical concept. And not just any mystical concept, it is the heart of the Good News. Jesus wants to come and live in your heart, not simply as an idea, but as true resident, who is perceived, talked to, and who will direct the soul as the soul yields to His love.

Writings about the active life and meditative prayer (the Christian is active, while God often takes a a passive role, permitting our actions and providing what is needed as we  walk in His steps) and contemplative prayer (We are carried by God. there is little to no action on our part. God is the active player and the soul is in passive stance) often reference Mary and Martha as seen in John 11. Martha represents the active Christian life, and it is a beautiful life. Here the soul seeks to serve Christ. The soul is active. Here we work. Here we seek to pray for needs other than our own. The list goes on and on, the end of things we seek to do for God is without end. It is all to easy to be busy doing things for God, that we forget to drink of the “well of water springing up to eternal life.”  To be sure, those things need to be accomplished, they are good things. So in John 11 we find Martha providing refreshment to a weary troupe. Then, on the passive side, we see that which will not be taken away, we see Mary content to sit in the glory of the Bridegroom and wait upon His love. When our desire for God burns bright, when our soul desires to know and love God, Jesus takes our hands, every time, as far as I can remember. The more our desire for Him grows, the more intimate the union He carries us to, for He is a pearl of great price. Mary’s part, Jesus promises, lasts forever,  it will not be taken away. The desire itself is from God, it is God at work transforming the soul.

Every Christian is called to the life of Martha. To some, who pursue the active Christian, Martha’s part, the blessings of Mary find expression. Both live’s are blessed. When we desire God, God’s Spirit transforms us, it takes us captive to places we can not approach or enter in our own strength. The life of contemplation flutters on the wind of God’s Breadth as a butterfly. This occurs often when the soul is yielded to God, when the self waits upon God. This is when the Bridegroom gathers and carries the soul aloft. St. Teresa identifies these excursions with what she refers to as the prayer of union. The soul is kept but a brief time in the prayer of union. No matter the length of time God keep the soul in this state the mark of these encounters is imprinted upon the heart of the soul and will not depart. This imprinting is like a map or a subroutine, it carries us toward Love of God and the love of other.

Though I question some aspects of her writing, I find an affinity and companionship with Teresa of Jesus. The expressions she uses to describe Christ’s gracious acts in her life harmonizes with my experience. As there is truth in her description of this union with Christ, I am confident it will  be as valuable to others who desire to commune with God, as it is to me anytime I pick it up.

Like the Cloud of Unknowing and other books which seek to aid pilgrims in their understanding and exploration of Christ in us, the hope of glory, the full text is recommended. Snippets can be confusing and may seem inconsistent. With this said, I have created an outline for myself. If it benefits you, God be Praised. If something is confusing please read the full text.

THE INTERIOR CASTLE or THE MANSIONS
By St. Teresa of Avila – St. Teresa of Jesus Translated from the Autograph of St. Teresa of Jesus by The Benedictines of Stanbrook – Revised, with Notes and an Introduction, by the Very Rev. Fr. Benedict Zimmerman, O.C.D. [1921]
Dom Michael Barrett,

Description: Interior Castle is the work of 16th century Carmelite nun and Christian mystic St.Teresa of Avila. She wrote Interior Castle  as a spiritual guide to union with God. Her inspiration for the work came from a vision she received from God. In it, there was a crystal globe with seven mansions, with God in the innermost mansion. St. Teresa interpreted this vision as an allegory for the soul’s relationship with God; each mansion represents one place on a path towards the “spiritual marriage”– i.e. union–with God in the seventh mansion. One begins on this path through prayer and meditation. She also describes the resistance that the Devil places in various rooms, to keep believers from union with God. Throughout, she provides encouragements and advice for spiritual development. Beyond its spiritual merit, Interior Castle also contains much literary merit as a piece of Spanish renaissance literature. A spiritually challenging book, Interior Castle stands on par with other great works of this time, such as Dark Night of the Soul. Tim Perrine CCEL Staff  Writer

Table of Content

The Benedictines of Stanbrook desire to express their gratitude to the very Rev. Benedict Zimmerman for having kindly revised the translation of the ‘Interior Castle’ and also for the Introduction, Notes, and Index which he has added to the book.

INTRODUCTION
SAINT TERESA began to write the Interior Castle on June 2, 1577, Trinity Sunday, and completed it on the eve of St. Andrew, November 29, of the same year. But there was a long interruption of five months,1 so that the actual time spent in the composition of this work was reduced to about four weeks—a fortnight for the first, and another fortnight for the second half of the book. The rapidity with which it was written is easily explained by the fact that the Saint had conceived its plan some time previously. On January 17, 1577, she had written to her brother, Don Lorenzo de Cepeda, at Avila: ‘I have asked the bishop—Don Alvaro Mendoza—for my book (the Life) because I shall perhaps complete it by adding those new favours our Lord has lately granted me. With these one may even compose a new work of considerable size, provided God grants me the grace of explaining myself; otherwise the loss will be of small account.’2 She never asked for permission to write anything, but waited until she received a command from her superiors, which, in this case, came from Father Jerome Gracian, superior of the Discalced J. Carmelites of the Provinces of Andalusia

THIS TREATISE, STYLED THE INTERIOR CASTLE, WAS WRITTEN BY TERESA OF JESUS, NUN OF OUR LADY OF CARMEL, FOR HER SISTERS AND DAUGHTERS, THE DISCALCED CARMELITE NUNS.

RARELY has obedience laid upon me so difficult a task as this of writing about prayer; for one reason, because I do not feel that God has given me either the power or the desire for it, besides which, during the last three months I have suffered from noises and a great weakness in my head that have made it painful for me to write even on necessary business. I However, as I know the power obedience has of making things easy which seem impossible,
my will submits with a good grace, although nature seems greatly distressed, for God has not given me such strength as to bear, without repugnance, the constant struggle against illness while performing many different duties. May He, Who has helped me in other more difficult matters, aid me with His grace in this, for I trust in His mercy. I think I have but little to say that has not already been put forth in my other works written under obedience; in fact, I fear this will be but repetition of them. I am like a parrot which has learnt to talk; only knowing what it has been taught or has heard, it repeats the same thing over and over again. If God wishes me to write anything new, He will teach it me, or bring back to my memory what I have said elsewhere. I should be content even with this, for as I am very forgetful, I should be glad to be able to recall some of the matters about which people say I have spoken well, lest they should be altogether lost. If our Lord will not even grant me this, still, if I weary my brains and increase my headache by striving to obey, I shall gain in merit, though my words should be useless to any one. So I begin this work on the Feast of the Blessed Trinity in the year 1577, in the Convent of St. Joseph of Carmel at Toledo, where I am living, and I submit all my writings to the judgment of those learned men by whose commands I undertake them. That it will be the fault of ignorance, not malice, if I say anything contrary to the doctrine of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, may be held as certain. By God’s goodness I am, and always shall be, faithful to the Church, as I have been in the past. May He be for ever blessed and glorified. Amen.

Thus I am writing only to my sisters; the idea that any one else could benefit by what I say would be absurd. Our Lord will be doing me a great favour if He enables me to help but one of the nuns to praise Him a little better; His Majesty knows well that I have no other aim. mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God

He who bids me write this, tells me that the nuns of these convents of our Lady of Carmel need some one to solve their difficulties about prayer: he thinks that women understand one another’s language best and that my sisters’ affection for me would make them pay special attention to my words, therefore it is important for me to explain the subject clearly to them. Thus I am writing only to my sisters; the idea that any one else could benefit by what I say would be absurd. Our Lord will be doing me a great favour if He enables me to help but one of the nuns to praise Him a little better; His Majesty knows well that I have no other aim. If anything is to the point, they will understand that it does not originate from me and there is no reason to attribute it to me, as with my scant understanding and skill I could write nothing of the sort, unless God, in His mercy, enabled me to do so.

  • THE FIRST MANSIONS (TOC)
    • Chapter I. Description of the Castle (TOC)
      • WHILE I was begging our Lord today to speak for me, since I knew not what to say nor how to commence this work which obedience has laid upon me, an idea occurred to me which I will explain, and which will serve as a foundation for that I am about to write. I thought of the soul as resembling a castle, I formed of a single diamond or a very transparent crystal,and containing many rooms, just as in heaven there are many mansions.
      • If we reflect, sisters, we shall see that the soul of the just man is but a paradise, in which, God tells us, He takes His delight.
      • … we need not tire ourselves by trying to realize all the beauty of this castle, although, being His creature, there is all the difference between the soul and God that there is between the creature and the Creator;
      • Rarely do we reflect upon what gifts our souls may possess, Who dwells within them, or how extremely precious they are. Therefore we do little to preserve their beauty; all our care is concentrated on our bodies, which are but the coarse setting of the diamond, or the outer walls of the castle. As far as I can understand, the gate by which to enter this castle is prayer and meditation.
      • I do not allude more to mental than to vocal prayer, for if it is prayer at all, the mind must take part in it.
      • At length they enter the first rooms in the basement of the castle, accompanied by numerous reptiles which disturb their peace, and prevent their seeing the beauty of the building;
    • Chapter II. The Human Soul (TOC)
      • While the soul is in mortal sin nothing can profit it; none of its good works merit an eternal reward, since they do not proceed from God as their first principle, and by Him alone is our virtue real virtue.
      • Let humility be always at work, like the bee at the honeycomb, or all will be lost.
      • From personal experience I could give you much information as to what happens in these first mansions. I will only say that you must not imagine there are only a few, but a number of rooms, for souls enter them by many different ways, and always with a good intention.
      • You must notice that the light which comes from the King’s palace hardly shines at all in these first mansions; although not as gloomy and black as the soul in mortal sin, yet they are in semi-darkness, and their inhabitants see scarcely anything.
      • I cannot explain myself; I do not mean that this is the fault of the mansions themselves, but that the number of snakes, vipers, and venomous reptiles from outside the castle prevent souls entering them from seeing the light.
      • Be sure, my daughters, that true perfection consists in the love of God and our neighbour, and the better we keep both these commandments, the more perfect we shall be. The sole object of our Rule and Constitutions is to help us to observe these two laws.
      • Be sure, my daughters, that true perfection consists in the love of God and our neighbour, and the better we keep both these commandments, the more perfect we shall be. The sole object of our Rule and Constitutions is to help us to observe these two laws. mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God, David Reese
  • THE SECOND MANSIONS (TOC)
    • Chapter 1 – War. (TOC)
      • In this part of the castle are found souls which have begun to practise prayer; they realize the importance of their not remaining in the first mansions, yet often lack determination to quit their present condition by avoiding occasions of sin, which is a very perilous state to be in.
      • Do not think lightly, sisters, of this first grace, nor be downcast if you have not responded immediately to Our Lord’s voice, for His Majesty is willing to wait for us many a day and even many a year, especially when He sees perseverance and good desires in our hearts.
      • O Jesus! What turmoil the devils cause in the poor soul! How unhappy it feels, not knowing whether to go forward or to return to the first mansion!
      • Do not act thus, sisters; embrace the cross your Spouse bore on His shoulders; know that your motto should be: ‘Most happy she who suffers most if it be for Christ!’
      • His Majesty knows best what is good for us; it is not for us to advise Him how to treat us, for He has the right to tell us that we know not what we ask.
      • But, as I began by saying, and as God Himself declares: ‘He that loves danger shall perish by it,’and the door by which we must enter this castle is prayer.
  • THE THIRD MANSIONS (TOC)
    • Chapter I. Fear of God (TOC)
      • As for those who, by the mercy of God, have vanquished in these combats and persevered until they reached the third mansions, what can we say to them but ‘Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord’?
      • To return to what I began to explain about the souls which have entered the third mansions. God has shown them no small favour, but a very great one, in enabling them to pass through the first difficulties. Thanks to His mercy I believe there are many such people
    • Chapter II. Aridity in Prayer (TOC)
      • We seem to ourselves to be making progress, yet we become weary, for, believe me, we are walking through a mist; it will be fortunate if we do not lose ourselves. Let our Superiors, to whom the charge belongs, look after our bodies; let our only care be to hasten to our Lord’s presence—for though there are few or no indulgences to be obtained here, yet, regard for health might mislead us and it would be none the better for our care, as I know well. In these third mansions the Lord never fails to repay our services, both as a just and even as a merciful God, Who always bestows on us far more than we deserve, giving us greater happiness than could be obtained from any earthly pleasures and amusements.
      • Let us look at our own faults, and not at other persons’.
      • Zeal for the good of souls, though given us by God, may often lead us astray, sisters; it is best to keep our rule, which bids us ever to live in silence and in hope.
  • THE FOURTH MANSIONS (TOC)
    • CHAPTER I. Sweetness in Prayer  (TOC)
      • As these mansions are nearer the King’s dwelling they are very beautiful, and so subtle are the things seen and heard in them, that, as those tell us who have tried to do so, the mind cannot give a lucid idea of them to those inexperienced in the matter.
      • The poisonous reptiles rarely come into these rooms, and, if they enter, do more good than harm.
      • My own experience of this delight and sweetness in meditation was that when I began to weep over the Passion I could not stop until I had a severe headache;
      • These feelings of devotion are most common with souls in the first three mansions, who are nearly always using their understanding and reason in making meditations. This is good for them, for they have not been given grace for more;
      • Love does not consist in great sweetness of devotion, but in a fervent determination to strive to please God in all things, in avoiding, as far as possible, all that would offend Him, and in praying for the increase of the glory and honour of His Son and for the growth of the Catholic Church. Whilst writing this I am thinking of the loud noise in my head which I mentioned in the Introduction, and which has made it almost impossible to obey the command given me to write this. It sounds as if there were a number of rushing waterfalls within my brain, while in other parts, drowned by the sound of the waters, are the voices of birds singing and whistling.
      • Love does not consist in great sweetness of devotion, but in a fervent determination to strive to please God in all things, in avoiding, as far as possible, all that would offend Him, and in praying for the increase of the glory and honour of His Son and for the growth of the Catholic Church. David Reese, mythouhgts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
      • These troubles annoy us more or less according to the state of our health or in different circumstances. The poor soul suffers; although not now to blame, it has sinned at other times, and must be patient. We are so ignorant that what we have read and been told has not sufficed to teach us to disregard wandering thoughts, therefore I shall not be wasting time in instructing and consoling you about these trials. However, this will help you but little until God chooses to enlighten you, and additional measures are needed: His Majesty wishes us to learn by ordinary means to understand ourselves and to recognize the share taken in these troubles by our wandering imagination, our nature, and the devil’s temptations, instead of laying all the blame on our souls.
    • CHAPTER II. Chapter II. Divine Consolations  (TOC)
          • GOD help me! how I have wandered from my subject! I forget what I was speaking about, for my occupations and ill-health often force me to cease writing until some more suitable time. The sense will be very disconnected; as my memory is extremely bad and I have no time to read over what is written, even what I really understand is expressed very vaguely, at least so I fear. I think I said that spiritual consolations are occasionally connected with the passions. These feelings of devotion produce fits of sobbing; I have even heard that sometimes they cause a compression of the chest, and uncontrollable exterior motions violent enough to cause bleeding at the nose and other painful effects. I can say nothing about this, never having experienced anything of the kind myself; but there appears some cause for comfort in it, because, as I said, all ends in the desire to please God and to enjoy His presence.
          • What I call divine consolations, or have termed elsewhere the ’prayer of quiet,’ is a very different thing, as those will understand who, by the mercy of God, have experienced them.
            • To make the matter clearer, let us imagine we see two fountains with basins which fill with water…. These two basins are filled in different ways;
              • the one with water from a distance flowing into it through many pipes and waterworks,
              • while the other basin is built near the source of the spring itself and fills quite noiselessly.
                • If the fountain is plentiful, like the one we speak of, after the basin is full the water overflows in a great stream which flows continually.
                • No machinery is needed here, nor does the water run through aqueducts.
            • Such is the difference between the two kinds of prayer.
              • The water running through the aqueducts resembles sensible devotion, which is obtained by meditation.
                • We gain it by our thoughts,
                • by meditating on created things,
                • and by the labour of our minds;
                • in short, it is the result of our endeavours, and so makes the commotion I spoke of, while profiting the soul.
              • The other fountain, like divine consolations, receives the water from the source itself, which signifies God: as usual, when His Majesty wills to bestow on us any supernatural favours, 
                • we experience the greatest peace, calm, and sweetness in the inmost depths of our being; I know neither where nor how.
                • This joy is not, like earthly happiness, at once felt by the heart; after gradually filling it to the brim, the delight overflows throughout all the mansions and faculties, until at last it reaches the body.
                • Therefore, I say it arises from God and ends in ourselves, for whoever experiences it will find that the whole physical part of our nature shares in this delight and sweetness.
            • While writing this I have been thinking that the verse ‘Dilatasti cor meum,’ ‘Thou hast dilated my heart,’ declares that the heart is dilated. This joy does not appear to me to originate in the heart, but in some more interior part and, as it were, in the depths of our being. I think this must be the centre of the soul, as I have since learnt and will explain later on. I discover secrets within us which often fill me with astonishment: how many more must there be unknown to me! O my Lord and my God! how stupendous is Thy grandeur!
            • We are like so many foolish peasant lads: we think we know something of Thee, yet it must be comparatively nothing, for there are profound secrets even in ourselves of which we know naught. I say ‘comparatively nothing’ in proportion with all the secrets hidden within Thee, yet how great are Thy mysteries that we are acquainted with and can learn even by the study of such of Thy works as we see!
              • note: A clear description of an attack of hysteria with the significant remark that she herself had never experienced anything of the kind’. (Dr. Goix, quoted by P. Grégoire, La prétendue hystérie de Sainte Thérèse, Lyon, Vitte,

      1895, p. 53.)

      • To return to the verse I quoted, which may help to explain the dilation begun by the celestial waters in the depths of our being. They appear to dilate and enlarge us internally, and benefit us in an inexplicable manner, nor does even the soul itself understand what it receives. It is conscious of what may be described as a certain fragrance, as if within its inmost depths were a brazier sprinkled with sweet perfumes. Although the spirit neither sees the flame nor knows where it is, yet it is penetrated by the warmth, and scented fumes, which are even sometimes perceived by the body.
    • To return to the verse I quoted, which may help to explain the dilation begun by the celestial waters in the depths of our being. They appear to dilate and enlarge us internally, and benefit us in an inexplicable manner, nor does even the soul itself understand what it receives. It is conscious of what may be described as a certain fragrance, as if within its inmost depths were a brazier sprinkled with sweet perfumes. Although the spirit neither sees the flame nor knows where it is, yet it is penetrated by the warmth, and scented fumes, which are even sometimes perceived by the body. David Reese, mythoughts, thouhgtsofgod, thoughts of God
      • Let those who have never experienced it believe that it really occurs to others: the soul is conscious of it and feels it more distinctly than can be expressed. It is not a thing we can fancy or gain by anything we can do; clearly it does not arise from the base coin of human nature, but from the most pure gold of Divine Wisdom. I believe that in this case the powers of the soul are not united to God, but are absorbed and astounded at the marvel before them.
      • I may be entirely mistaken on the subject, both then and now, but never do I wilfully say what is untrue. No; by the mercy of God, I would rather die a thousand times than tell a falsehood: I speak of the matter as I understand it.
      • Our Lord bestows a signal grace on the soul if it realizes how great is this favour, and another greater still if it does not turn back on the right road. … God bestows these graces for no other reason than His own choice, into which we have no right to enquire.
      • Practice what I advised in the preceding mansions, then—humility, humility! for God lets Himself be vanquished by this and grants us all we ask.
        • The first proof that you possess humility is that you neither think you now deserve these graces and consolations from God, nor that you ever will as long as you live. You ask me: ‘How shall we receive them, if we do not try to gain them?’ I answer, that there is no surer way to obtain them than the one I have told you, therefore make no efforts to acquire them, for the following reasons.
          • The first is, that the chief means of obtaining them is to love God without self-interest. 
          • The second, that it is a slight lack of humility to think that our wretched services can win so great a reward. (our servive is nothing, God working in us is everything dbr)
          • The third, that the real preparation for them is to desire to suffer and imitate our Lord, rather than to receive consolations, for indeed we have all offended Him. (I have yet to desire to suffer – dbr)
          • The fourth reason is, that His Majesty has not promised to give us these favours in the same way as He has bound Himself to bestow eternal glory on us if we keep His commandments.
      • We can be saved without these special graces; He sees better than we do what is best for us and which of us love Him sincerely.
      • We are His, sisters, let Him do what He will with us, and lead us where He will. If we are really humble and annihilate ourselves, not only in our imagination (which often deceives us), but if we truly detach ourselves from all things, our Lord will not only grant us these favours but many others that we do not know even how to desire. May He be for ever praised and blessed! Amen.
    • CHAPTER III. Chapter III. Prayer of Quiet  (TOC)
      • The mind must act until God calls it to recollection by love.
      • The soul should here abandon
      • Liberty of spirit gained by consolations. The soul must be watchful.
      • THE effects of divine consolations are very numerous: before describing them, I will speak of another kind of prayer which usually precedes them.
      • There is no occasion to retire nor to shut the eyes, nor does it depend on anything exterior; involuntarily the eyes suddenly close and solitude is found. Without any labour of one’s own, the temple of which I spoke is reared for the soul in which to pray: the senses and exterior surroundings appear to lose their hold, while the spirit gradually regains its lost sovereignty. Some say the soul enters into itself; others, that it rises above itself.

His Majesty only bestows this favour on those who have renounced the world, in desire at least, if their state of life does not permit their doing so in fact. He thus specially calls them to devote themselves to spiritual things; if they allow Him power to at freely He will bestow still greater graces on those whom He thus begins calling to a higher life. mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God, David Reese

      • His Majesty only bestows this favour on those who have renounced the world, in desire at least, if their state of life does not permit their doing so in fact. He thus specially calls them to devote themselves to spiritual things; if they allow Him power to at freely He will bestow still greater graces on those whom He thus begins calling to a higher life.
      • Those who enjoy this recollection should thank God fervently: it is of the highest importance for them to realize the value of this favour, gratitude for which would prepare them to receive still more signal graces
        • (signal graces are signs which God illumines to the soul that it may make the right choices. Signal graces can also be related to the rosary and  the prayers of Mary. note for self i tend to be forgetful as well dbr)
      • Possibly I may be mistaken, but I rely on these reasons.
        • Wherefore, says a holy teacher, Meditation goes its way and brings forth fruit, with labour, but Contemplation bears fruit without labour. The one seeketh, the other findeth; the one consumeth the food, the other enjoys it; the one discourseth, and maketh reflections, the other is contented with a simple gaze upon the things, for it hath in possession their love and joy.
        • … we ought then to cease from that pious and laborious searching; and being satisfied with the simple gaze upon, and thought of, God—as though we had Him there present before us—we should rest in the enjoyment of that affection then given, whether it be of love, or of admiration, or joy, or other like sentiment. The reason why this counsel is given is this, that as the aim of this devotion is love and the affections of the will rather than the speculations of the understanding, when the will has been caught and taken by this affection, we should put away all those discursive and intellectual speculations, so far as we can, in order that our soul with all its forces may be fastened upon this affection without being diverted by the action of other influences. 
        • We should make our petitions like beggars before a powerful and rich Emperor; then, with downcast eyes, humbly wait. When He secretly shows us He hears our prayers, it is well to be silent, as He has drawn us into His presence;
        • We should rather abandon our souls into the hands of God, leaving Him to do as He chooses with us, as far as possible forgetting all self-interest and resigning ourselves entirely to His will.
        • On first speaking of the fourth mansions, I told you I had mentioned divine consolations before the prayer of recollection. The latter should have come first, as it is far inferior to consolations, of which
          it is the commencement.

          • Recollection does not require us to give up meditation, nor to cease using our intellect. In the prayer of quiet, when the water flows from the spring itself and not through conduits, the mind ceases to act; it is forced to do so, although it does not understand what is happening, and so wanders hither and thither in bewilderment, finding no place for rest.
          • Meanwhile the will, entirely united to God, is much disturbed by the tumult of the thoughts: no notice, however, should be taken of them, or they would cause the loss of a great part of the favour the soul is enjoying.
          • Let the spirit ignore these distractions and abandon itself in the arms of divine love: His Majesty will teach it how best to act, which chiefly consists in its recognizing its unworthiness of so great a good and occupying itself in thanking Him for it.
    • THE FIFTH MANSIONS (TOC)
      • Chapter I. Prayer of Union (TOC)
      • Rouse yourselves, my sisters, and since some foretaste of heaven may be had on earth, beg our Lord to give us grace not to miss it through our own fault. Ask Him to show us where to find it—ask Him to give us strength of soul to dig until we find this hidden treasure, which lies buried within our hearts,
      • In the prayer of union the soul is asleep, fast asleep, as regards the world and itself: in fact, during the short time this state lasts it is deprived of all feeling whatever, being unable to think on any subject, even if it wished. No effort is needed here to suspend the thoughts: if the soul can love it knows not how, nor whom it loves, nor what it desires.
      • ’The reason why there are so few contemplatives is that there are so few persons who wholly withdraw themselves from transitory and created things’ (Imitation, bk. iii. ch. xxxi. 1).
      • God Who sets them to give light to His Church enables them to recognize the truth when it is put before them. If they are not thoughtless and indevout, but servants of God, they are never dismayed at His mighty works, knowing perfectly well that it is in His power to perform far greater wonders.
      • Let us now speak of the sign which proves the prayer of union to have been genuine. As you have seen, God then deprives the soul of all its senses that He may the better imprint in it true wisdom: it neither sees, hears, nor understands anything while this state lasts, which is never more than a very brief time;
    • There are three ways in which God is present in the soul. The first is His presence in essence .... This presence never fails in the soul. The second is His presence by grace.... no soul can know in a natural way whether it has it or not. The third is His presence by spiritual affection. God is wont to show His presence in many devout souls in divers ways, in refreshment, joy and gladness.’ (St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, stanza xi. 2.) ’In every soul, even that of the greatest sinner in the world, God dwells and is substantially present. David Reese, mythouhgts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
      • There are three ways in which God is present in the soul.
        • The first is His presence in essence …. This presence never fails in the soul.
        • The second is His presence by grace…. no soul can know in a natural way whether it has it or not.
        • The third is His presence by spiritual affection. God is wont to show His presence in many devout souls in divers ways, in refreshment, joy and gladness.’ (St. John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, stanza xi. 2.) ’In every soul, even that of the greatest sinner in the world, God dwells and is substantially present.
      • Do not mistake and imagine that this certainty of God’s having visited the soul concerns any corporal presence such as that of our Lord Jesus Christ Who dwells in the Blessed Sacrament, although we do not see Him: it relates solely to the Divinity. If we did not see it, how can we feel so sure of it? That I do not know: it is the work of the Almighty and I am certain that what I say is the fact. I maintain that a soul which does not feel this assurance has not been united to God entirely, but only by one of its powers, or has received one of the many other favours God is accustomed to bestow on men.
      • We can do nothing on our own part to gain this favour; it comes from God alone; therefore let us not strive to understand it. Concerning my words: ‘We can do nothing on our own part,’ I was struck by the words of the Bride in the Canticles, which you will remember to have heard: ’The King brought me into the cellar of wine, (or ‘placed me’ I think she says): she does not say she went of her own accord, although telling us how she wandered up and down seeking her Beloved. I think the prayer of union is the ‘cellar’ in which our Lord places us when and how He chooses, but we cannot enter it through any effort of our own. His Majesty alone can bring us there and come into the centre of our souls. In order to declare His wondrous works more clearly, He will leave us no share in them except complete conformity of our wills to His and abandonment of all things: He does not require the faculties or senses to open the door to Him; they are all asleep. He enters the innermost depths of our souls without a door, as He entered the room where the disciples sat, saying ‘Pax vobis,’ and this He preserves them in being, and if He withdraws it they immediately perish and cease to be. And so, when I speak of the union of the soul with God, I do not mean this substantial presence which is in every creature, but that union and transformation of the soul in God by love which is only then accomplished when there subsists as He emerged from the sepulchre without  removing the stone that closed the entrance.
      • You will see farther on, in the seventh mansion, far better than here, how God makes the soul enjoy His presence in its very centre. O daughters, what wonders shall we see, if we keep ever before our eyes our own baseness and frailty and recognize how unworthy we are to be the handmaids of so great a Lord, Whose marvels are beyond our comprehension! May He be for ever praised! Amen.
    • Chapter II. Effects of Union (TOC)
      • You may imagine that there is no more left to be described of the contents of this mansion, but a great deal remains to be told, for as I said, it contains favours of various degrees.
      • You have heard how wonderfully silk is made—in a way such as God alone could plan—how it all comes from an egg resembling a tiny pepper-corn.
      • The silkworm symbolizes the soul which begins to live when, kindled by the Holy Spirit, it commences using the ordinary aids given by God to all, and applies the remedies left by Him in His Church, such as regular confession, religious hooks, and sermons; these are the cure for a soul dead in its negligence and sins and liable to fall into temptation. Then it comes to life and continues nourishing itself on this food and on devout meditation until it has attained full vigour, which is the essential point, for I attach no importance to the rest.
      • When the silkworm is full-grown as I told you in the first part of this chapter, it begins to spin silk and to build the house wherein it must die. By this house, when speaking of the soul, I mean Christ. I think I read or heard somewhere, either that our life is hid in Christ, or in God (which means the same thing) or that Christ is our life. It makes little difference to my meaning which of these quotations is correct.
        • Forward then, my daughters! hasten over your work and build the little cocoon. Let us renounce self-love and self-will, care for nothing earthly, do penance, pray, mortify ourselves, be obedient, and perform all the other good works of which you know. Act up to your light; you have been taught your duties. Die! die as the silkworm does when it has fulfilled the office of its creation, and you will see God and be immersed in His greatness, as the little silkworm is enveloped in its cocoon.
      • As soon as, by means of this prayer, the soul has become entirely dead to the world, it comes forth like a lovely little white butterfly!
        • St. Teresa must have been thinking of this simile when she chose ‘butterflies’ as the pseudonym for her nuns in her letters at the time when she was obliged to be cautious on account of the troubles of the Reform. The soul desires to praise our Lord God and longs to sacrifice itself and die a thousand deaths for Him. It feels an unconquerable desire for great crosses and would like to perform the most severe penances; it sighs for solitude and would have all men know God, while it is bitterly grieved at seeing them offend Him. 
      • Now it finds even their rightful claims a burden, fearing contact with them lest it should offend God. It wearies of everything, realizing that no true rest can be found in creatures.
      • Have you not heard …. the Bride says that God ‘brought her into the cellar of wine and set in order charity in her’ This is what happens here. The soul has so entirely yielded itself into His hands and is so subdued by love for Him that it knows or cares for nothing but that God should dispose of it according to His will.
    • This is what happens here. The soul has so entirely yielded itself into His hands and is so subdued by love for Him that it knows or cares for nothing but that God should dispose of it according to His will. David Reese, mythouhgts, thouhgtsofgod, thouhgts of God
      • I believe that He only bestows this grace on those He takes entirely for His own. He desires that, without knowing how, the spirit should come forth stamped with His seal for indeed it does no more than does the wax when impressed with the signet.
    • Chapter III. Cause of Union (TOC)
      • LET us now return to our little dove and see what graces God gives it in this state.
      • Oh, how desirable is this union! The happy soul which has attained it will live in this world and in the next without care of any sort. No earthly events can trouble it, unless it should see itself in danger of losing God or should witness any offence offered Him. Neither sickness, poverty, nor the loss of any one by death affect it, except that of persons useful to the Church of God, for the soul realizes thoroughly that God’s disposal is wiser than its own desires.
      • This is the union I have longed for all my life and that I beg our Lord to grant me; it is the most certain and the safest. But alas, how few of us ever obtain it!
      • O sisters! how easy it is to know which of you have attained to a sincere love of your neighbour, and which of you are far from it. If you knew the importance of this virtue, your only care would be to gain it.
      • No, sisters, no; our Lord expects works from us. If you see a sick sister whom you can relieve, never fear losing your devotion; compassionate her…. This is the true union of our will with the will of God.
    • Chapter IV. Spiritual Espousals (TOC)
      • You have often heard that God spiritually espouses souls: may He be praised for His mercy in thus humbling Himself so utterly. Though but a homely comparison, yet I can find nothing better to express my meaning than the Sacrament of Matrimony although the two things are very different.
        • In divine union everything is spiritual and far removed from anything corporal, all the joys our Lord gives and the mutual delight felt in it being celestial and very unlike human marriage, which it excels a thousand times.
        • Here all is love united to love; its operations are more pure, refined, and sweet than can be described, though our Lord knows how to make the soul sensible of them.
      • There is no longer any question of deliberation, but the soul in a secret manner sees to what a Bridegroom it is betrothed; the senses and faculties could not, in a thousand years, gain the knowledge thus imparted in a very short time.
      • The Spouse, being Who He is, leaves the soul far more deserving of completing the espousals, as we may call them; the enamoured soul in its love for Him makes every effort to prevent their being frustrated.
      • Here the betrothed are, as they say, only acquainted by sight, and the devil will spare no pains to oppose and prevent their nuptials. Afterwards, when he sees the Bride is wholly given to her Bridegroom, he is afraid to interfere, having learnt by experience that if he molests her, while he loses much, she will gain greatly in merit.
      • I can assure you, my daughters, that I have known people far advanced in the spiritual life who had reached this state of prayer yet whom the devil reclaimed by his subtlety and wiles:
      • We love ourselves too much and are too prudent to give up any of our rights. What a deception! May God in His mercy give us light, lest we sink into such darkness.
      • You may question or be in doubt on two points.
        • Firstly: if the soul is entirely united with the will of God, as I have stated, how can it be deceived, since it ever seeks to follow His pleasure?
          • To your first question I reply that doubtless if such a soul is always faithful to the will of God, it cannot be lost; the evil one, however, comes with his keen subtlety and, under the pretext of good, leads it astray in some trivial matter and causes it to commit small defects which he makes it believe are harmless. Thus, little by little, the reason is obscured and the will is weakened while the devil fosters his victim’s self-love, until, by degrees, he succeeds in withdrawing it from union with the will of God and makes it follow its own will.
        • Secondly, how can the devil enter and work such havoc as to destroy your soul while you are so utterly withdrawn from the world and constantly frequent the Sacraments?
          • The answer to your first inquiry will serve for the second. No enclosure can be too strict for Satan to enter nor any desert too remote for him to visit. Besides, God may permit him to tempt the soul to prove its virtue;
      • Do not suppose that after advancing the soul to such a state God abandons it so easily that it is light work for the devil to regain it.
      • In conclusion, let us strive to make constant progress: we ought to feel great alarm if we do not find ourselves advancing, for without doubt the evil one must be planning to injure us in some way; it is impossible for a soul that has come to this state not to go still farther, for love is never idle.
        • Therefore it is a very bad sign when one comes to a stand-still in virtue. She who aspires to become the spouse of God Himself, and has treated with His Majesty and come to such an understanding with Him, must not leave off and go to sleep.
      • May He enable me to explain some of these difficult matters; if our Lord and the Holy Ghost do not guide my pen, I know the task will prove impossible. I beg Him to prevent
        my saying anything unless it will profit you. His Majesty knows that, as far as I can judge,
      •  I have no other wish but that His Name may be glorified and that we may strive to serve a Lord Who thus recompenses our efforts even in this world.
  • THE SIXTH MANSIONS (TOC)
    • Chapter I. Preparation for Spiritual Marriage (TOC)
      • BY the aid of the Holy Ghost I am now about to treat of the sixth mansions, where the soul, wounded with love for its Spouse, sighs more than ever for solitude, withdrawing as far as the duties of its state permit from all that can interrupt it, The sight it has enjoyed of Him is so deeply imprinted on the spirit that its only desire is to behold Him again.
      • If, however, the soul has already reached the seventh mansions, it fears nothing: boldly undertaking to suffer all things for God, it gathers strength from its almost uninterrupted union with Him.
        • This is an outcry raised against such a person by those amongst whom she lives, and even from others she has nothing to do with
          • They say she wants to pass for a saint,
          • that she goes to extremes in piety to deceive the world
          • and to depreciate people who are better Christians than herself without making such a parade of it.
        • But notice that she does nothing except endeavour to carry out the duties of her state more perfectly. 
          • Persons she thought were her friends desert her, making the most bitter remarks of all.
          • They take it much to heart that her soul is ruined—
          • she is manifestly deluded—
          • it is all the devil’s work—
          • she will share the fate of so-and-so who was lost through him,
          • and she is leading virtue astray.
          • They cry out that she is deceiving her confessors, and tell them so, citing examples of others who came to ruin …
        •  O my daughters, how few think well of her in comparison with the many who hate her!
        • The first is that experience has shown the mind that men are as ready to speak well as ill of others, so it attaches no more importance to the one than to the other.
        • Secondly, our Lord having granted it greater light, it perceives that no good thing in it is its own but is His gift, and becomes oblivious of self, praising God for His graces as if they were found
          in a third person.
        • The third reason is that, realizing the benefit reaped by others from witnessing graces given it by God, such a one thinks that it is for their profit He causes them to discover in her virtues that do not exist.
        • Fourthly, souls seeking God’s honour and glory more than their own are cured of the temptation (which usually besets beginners) of thinking that human praise will cause them the injury they have seen it do to others. Nor do these souls care much for men’s contempt if only, by their means, any one should praise God at least once—come what may afterwards.
      • souls seeking God’s honour and glory more than their own are cured of the temptation (which usually besets beginners) of thinking that human praise will cause them the injury they have seen it do to others. Nor do these souls care much for men’s contempt if only, by their means, any one should praise God at least once—come what may afterwards. David Reese. mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
        • These and other reasons to a certain extent allay the great distress formerly given by human praise which, however, still causes some discomfort unless the soul has become utterly regardless of men’s tongues.
        • This is perfectly true; the soul is rather strengthened than depressed by its trials, experience having taught it the great advantages derived from them. Our Lord now usually sends severe bodily infirmity. This is a far heavier cross, especially if acute pain is felt: if this is violent, I think it is the hardest of earthly trials. I speak of exterior trials; but corporal pains of the worst kind enter the interior of our being also, affecting both spirit and body, so that the soul in its anguish knows not what to do with itself and would far rather meet death at once by some quick martyrdom than suffer thus.
        • … God never sends us more than we can bear and always gives us patience first.
      • ... God never sends us more than we can bear and always gives us patience first. David Reese, mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
        • Now to speak of other trials and illnesses of many kinds which generally occur to people in this state.
        • Let us first speak of the trial of meeting with so timorous and inexperienced a confessor that nothing seems safe to him;
          • he dreads and suspects everything but the commonplace, especially in a soul in which he deters any imperfection,
          • for he thinks people on whom God bestows such favours must be angels, which is impossible while we live in our bodies.
          • He at once ascribes everything to the devil or melancholy.
            • As to the latter, I am not surprised; there is so much of it in the world and the evil one works such harm in this way that
            • confessors have the strongest reasons for anxiety and watchfulness about it.
            • The soul is quieted for a time when the confessor reassures it ….
        • The evil spirit even tries to make her think God has rejected her. Many are the trials which assault this soul, causing an internal anguish so painful and so intolerable that I can compare it to nothing save that suffered by the lost in hell, for no comfort can be found in this tempest of trouble.
        • If the soul seeks for consolation from its confessor, all the demons appear to help him to torment it more.
          • A confessor who dealt with a person suffering in this manner thought that her state must be very dangerous as so many things were troubling her;
        • In short, there is no other remedy in such a tempest except to wait for the mercy of God Who, unexpectedly, by some casual word or unforeseen circumstance, suddenly dispels all these sorrows; then every cloud of trouble disappears and the mind is left full of light and far happier than before.
          • It praises our Lord God like one who has come out victorious from a dangerous battle, for it was He Who won the victory. The soul is fully conscious that the conquest was not its own as all weapons of self-defence appeared to be in the enemies’ hands. Thus it realizes its weakness and how little man can help himself if God forsake him.
        • Although in a state of grace from which it has not fallen—for, in spite of these torments, it has not offended God, nor would it do so for any earthly thing—yet so hidden is this grace, that the sufferer believes that neither now, nor in the past, has she ever possessed the faintest spark of love for God. If at any time she has done good, or if His Majesty ever bestowed any favours on her, they seem to have been but a dream or a fancy, while her sins stand clearly before her.
  • The Wound of Love  I will now describe the way in which the Spouse treats her before uniting her entirely to Himself. He increases her longing for Him by devices so delicate that the soul itself cannot discern them.... These desires are delicate and subtle impulses springing from the inmost depths of the soul; David Reese, mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
    • Chapter II. The Wound of Love (TOC)
      • I will now describe the way in which the Spouse treats her before uniting her entirely to Himself.
        • He increases her longing for Him by devices so delicate that the soul itself cannot discern them….
        • These desires are delicate and subtle impulses springing from the inmost depths of the soul;
  • INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO CHAPTER III. BY THE EDITOR (TOC)
    • THE readers, especially those not well acquainted with Scholastic philosophy, will, perhaps, be glad to find here a short explanation of the various kinds. of Vision and Locution, Corporal, Imaginary, and Intellectual. The senses of Taste, Touch, and Smell are not so often affected by mystical phenomena, but what we are about to say in respect of Sight and Hearing applies, mutatis mutandis, to these also.
    • A Corporal Vision is when one sees a bodily object.  A Corporal Locution is when one hears words uttered by a human tongue.  In both cases the respective senses are exercising their normal function... St. Teresa tells us more than once that she never beheld a Corporal Vision, nor heard a Corporal Locution. David Reese, mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thouhgts of God
      • A CORPORAL VISION is when one sees a bodily object. A Corporal Locution is when one hears words uttered by a human tongue. In both cases the respective senses are exercising their normal function, and the phenomenon differs from ordinary seeing or hearing merely by the fact that in the latter the object seen is a real body, the words perceived come from a real tongue, whereas in the Vision or Locution the object is either only apparent or at any rate is not such as it seems to be. Thus, when young Tobias set out on a journey, his companion, Azarias, was not a real human being, but an archangel in human form. Tobias did really see and hear him, and felt the grip of his hand; Sara and her parents, as well as Tobias’s parents, saw and heard him too, but all the time the archangel made himself visible and audible by means of an assumed body, or perhaps of an apparent body. It would be more correct to describe such a phenomenon as an APPARITION than as a Vision, and in fact the apparitions of our Risen Lord to the holy women and the apostles belong to this category. For, though His was a real body, it was glorified and therefore no longer subject  to the same laws which govern purely human things. (St. Thomas, Summa theol. III., qu.
        54, art. I-3). St. Teresa tells us more than once that she never beheld a Corporal Vision, nor heard a Corporal Locution.
    • An Imaginary Vision or Locution is one where nothing is seen or heard by the senses of seeing or hearing, but where the same impression is received that would be produced upon the imagination by the senses if some real object were perceived by them.... imaginary Visions and Locutions are so dangerous that, according to St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, and other spiritual writers, David Reese, thoughtsofgod, mythoughts, thoughts of God
      • AN IMAGINARY VISION OR LOCUTION is one where nothing is seen or heard by the senses of seeing or hearing, but where the same impression is received that would be produced upon the imagination by the senses if some real object were perceived by them. For, according to the Scholastics, the Imagination stands half-way between the senses and the intellect, receiving impressions from the former and transmitting them to the latter. This is the reason why imaginary Visions and Locutions are so dangerous that, according to St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, and other spiritual writers, they should not only never be sought for, but as much as possible shunned and under all circumstances discountenanced. For the Imagination is closely connected with the Memory, so that it is frequently impossible to ascertain whether a Vision, etc., is not perhaps a semi-conscious or unconscious reproduction of scenes witnessed. It is here also that deception, wilful or unwilful, self-deception or deception by a higher agency, is to be feared. Hence the general rule that such Visions or Locutions should only be trusted upon the strongest grounds. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, (Summa theol. IIa IIæ, gu. 175, art. 3 ad q.) the visions of Isaias, St. John in the Apocalypse etc., were Imaginary. As an example of Imaginary Visions we may mention St. Stephen, who saw ‘the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God’; or St. Peter, who saw ‘the heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were a great linen sheet, let down by the four corners from heaven to the earth . . . and there came a voice to him: Arise, Peter, kill and eat.’ (Acts, vii. 55; X. 11-13).These Visions, Locutions, etc., are not hallucinations. The latter are due to physical disorder which affects the memory and causes it to represent impressions formerly received by it, in a disorderly and often grotesque manner. The Imaginary Vision takes place independently of a morbid state, is caused by an extraneous power, good or evil, and has for its object things of which the memory neither has nor ever has had cognizance.
    • St Teresa of Avila The Interior Castle AN Intellectual Vision or Locution
      • AN INTELLECTUAL VISION OR LOCUTION is one where nothing is seen or heard by the eyes and ears, and where no sensation is received by the imagination. But the impression which would be delivered by the imagination to the intellect, had it come through the senses and been handed on to the imagination, is directly imprinted upon the intellect. To understand this it is necessary to bear in mind that the impressions we receive through the senses must undergo a transformation—must be spiritualized—before they reach the intellect. This is one of the most difficult problems of psychology; none of the solutions offered by various schools of philosophy seem to render it entirely free from obscurity. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the impression received by the eye (Species sensibilis) is spiritualized by a faculty called Intellectus agens by means of abstraction (Species impressa), and is treasured up in the memory, like lantern slides, available at demand. The mind, identifying itself with the Species impressa, produces the ‘Word of the mind’ (Verbum mentis), wherein consists the act of Understanding or Mental Conception. In the Intellectual Vision or Locution, God, without co-operation on the part of the senses, the imagination,or the memory, produces directly on the mind the Species impressa. As this is supernatural with regard to its origin, and often also with respect to its object, it stands to reason that it is too exalted for the memory to receive it, so that such Visions and Locutions are frequently only imperfectly remembered and sometimes altogether forgotten, as St. Teresa tells us. On the other hand they are far less dangerous than Corporal or Imaginary Visions and Locutions, because the senses and imagination have nothing to do with them, whilst evil spirits are unable to act directly upon the mind, and self-deception is altogether excluded for the reasons stated by St. Teresa. An instance of such a vision is mentioned by St. Paul: ‘I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body I know not, or out of the body I know not: God knoweth), such an one rapt even to the third heaven. And I know such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth): that he was caught up into paradise, and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter’ (2 Cor. xii. 2-4).
    • CHAPTER III. TREATS OF THE SAME SUBJECT AND OF THE WAY GOD IS SOMETIMES PLEASED TO SPEAK TO THE SOUL. HOW WE SHOULD BEHAVE IN SUCH A CASE, IN WHICH WE MUST NOT FOLLOW OUR OWN OPINION. GIVES SIGNS TO SHOW HOW TO
      DISCOVER WHETHER THIS FAVOUR IS A DECEPTION OR NOT: THIS IS VERY
      NOTEWORTHY. (TOC)

      • I caution you on one point—although they may come from God, you must not esteem yourself more highly, for He often spoke to the Pharisees —all the good consists in profiting by His words.
      • Take no more notice of any speeches you hear which disagree with the Holy Scriptures than if you heard them from Satan himself. 
      • Though they may only rise from your vivid imagination, look upon them as a temptation against the faith. Always resist them; then they will leave you, and cease, for they have little strength of their own.
      • In my opinion these are the most certain signs of their being divine.
      • The first and truest is the power and authority they carry with them, for these words are operative. For example: a soul is suffering all the sorrow and disquiet I have described: the mind is darkened and dry; but it is set at peace, freed from all trouble and filled with light merely by hearing the words: ‘Be not troubled.’
      • Again, a person is troubled and greatly terrified at being told by her confessor and other people that her soul is under the influence of the evil one: she hears a single sentence which says, ‘It is I, be not afraid,’ and is at once freed from all fears and filled with consolation; indeed, she believes it would be impossible for any one to disturb her confidence.
      • Again, when exceedingly anxious about important business, not knowing whetheror not it will be successful, on hearing words bidding her ‘Be at peace; all will go well,’ she feels reassured and free from all care in the matter
      • The second sign is a great calm and a devout and peaceful recollection which dwell in the soul together with a desire to praise God. 
      • The third proof is that these words do not pass from the memory but remain there for a very long time; sometimes they are never forgotten.
      • Those our Lord does not lead by this path may suppose that the soul can avoid listening to these locutions and that even if they are interior it is at least possible to distract the attention from them so as not to hear them and thus escape danger. This cannot be done…. Mark this: that I believe it would be easier for a personwith very keen ears to avoid hearing a loud voice, for he could occupy his thoughts and mind in other things.
      • Not so here; the soul can do nothing, nor has it ears to stop, nor power to think of aught but what is said to it.
    • Chapter III. Locutions (TOC)
      • As I think I said, some are so feebly constituted as to die of a single prayer of quiet.
      • I should like to describe here several kinds of raptures
        • In one sort of rapture the soul, although perhaps not engaged in prayer at the time, is struck by some word of God which it either remembers or hears. His Majesty …. appears to increase the spark I described in the interior of the spirit until it entirely inflames the soul which rises with new life like a phoenix from the flames.
          • Such a one may piously believe her sins are now forgiven,
          • Yet the mind had not lost the use of its faculties, for this ecstasy does not resemble a swoon or a fit in which nothing either interior or exterior is felt.
          • What I do understand is that the soul has never been more alive to spiritual things nor so full of light and of knowledge of His Majesty as it is now.
          • While the soul is in this suspension, our Lord favours it by discovering to it secrets such as heavenly mysteries and imaginary visions, which admit of description afterwards because they remain so imprinted on the memory that it never forgets them.
          • But when the visions are intellectual they are not thus easily related…. O daughters! their value cannot be overrated; for though the recipient is incapable of describing them, they are deeply imprinted in the centre of the soul and are never forgotten.
          • To return to what I was describing. By the commands of the Bridegroom, the doors of the mansions and even those of the keep and of the whole castle are closed; for when He intends ravishing the soul He takes away the power of speech, and although occasionally the other faculties are retained rather longer, no word can be uttered.
          • Sometimes the person is at once deprived of all the senses, the hands and body becoming as cold as if the soul had fled; occasionally no breathing can be detected.
          • This supreme state of ecstasy never lasts long, but although it ceases, it leaves the will so inebriated, and the mind so transported out of itself that for a day, or sometimes for several days
          • Oh, when the soul wholly returns to itself, how abashed does it feel at having received this favour and how passionate are its desires of serving God in any way He asks of it!
          • If the former states of prayer caused the powerful effects described, what will not such a signal grace as this do?
  • C

    hapter V. The Flight of the Spirit

     (TOC)

      • THERE is another form of rapture, which, though essentially the same as the last, yet

      produces very different feelings in the soul.

    • I call it the ‘flight of the spirit, for the soul suddenly feels so rapid a sense of motion that the spirit appears to hurry it away with a speed which is very alarming, especially at first. 
      • To return to this sudden rapture of the spirit. The soul really appears to have quitted the body, which however is not lifeless, and though, on the other hand, the person is certainly not dead, yet she herself cannot, for a few seconds, tell whether her spirit remains within her body or not.
      • She feels that she has been wholly transported into another and a very different region from that in which we live,
      • where a light so unearthly is shown that, if during her whole lifetime she had been trying to picture it and the wonders seen, she could not possibly have succeeded.
      • In an instant her mind learns so many things at once that if the imagination and intellect spent years in striving to enumerate them, it could not recall a thousandth part of them.
      • This vision is not intellectual but imaginary and is seen by the eyes of the soul more clearly than earthly things are seen by our bodily eyes.
  • The third grace is a contempt for all earthly things unless they are consecrated to the service of so great a God. With such jewels the Bridegroom begins to deck His Bride; they are too valuable for her to keep them carelessly. These visions are so deeply engraved in her memory that I believe she can never forget them until she enjoys them for evermore, for to do so would be the greatest misfortune. But the Spouse Who gave her these gifts has power to give her grace not to lose them. David Reese, mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
    • The third grace is a contempt for all earthly things unless they are consecrated to the service of so great a God. With such jewels the Bridegroom begins to deck His Bride; they are too valuable for her to keep them carelessly. These visions are so deeply engraved in her memory that I believe she can never forget them until she enjoys them for evermore, for to do so would be the greatest misfortune. But the Spouse Who gave her these gifts has power to give her grace not to lose them.
  • Chapter VI. Spiritual Jubilation (TOC)
  • Spiritual Jubilation Thus in this mansion raptures occur very frequently, nor can they be resisted even in public. Persecutions and slanders ensue ... she feels great confidence within her soul, especially when alone with God, yet on the other hand, she is greatly troubled by misgivings lest she is deceived by the devil and so should offend Him Whom she deeply loves. She cares little for blame, except when her confessor finds fault with her as if she could help what happens. .... Amongst these favours, at once painful and pleasant, Our Lord sometimes causes in the soul a certain jubilation and a strange and mysterious kind of prayer. David Reese, mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
    • Thus in this mansion raptures occur very frequently, nor can they be resisted even in public.
    • Persecutions and slanders ensue;
    • Although in one way she feels great confidence within her soul, especially when alone with God, yet on the other hand, she is greatly troubled by misgivings lest she is deceived by the devil and so should offend Him Whom she deeply loves.
    • She cares little for blame, except when her confessor finds fault with her as if she could help what happens.
    • I think you must be puzzling over this and would like to ask what I would have you do, as I see danger in everything.
    • Amongst these favours, at once painful and pleasant, Our Lord sometimes causes in the soul a certain jubilation and a strange and mysterious kind of prayer.
  • Chapter VII. The Humanity of Our Lord (TOC)
  • Souls that have reached the state I speak of have ceased to fear hell. At times, though very rarely, they grieve keenly over the possibility of their losing God; their sole dread is lest He should withdraw His hand, allowing them to offend Him, and so they might return to their former miserable condition. David Reese, mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
    • Souls that have reached the state I speak of have ceased to fear hell. At times, though very rarely, they grieve keenly over the possibility of their losing God; their sole dread is lest He should withdraw His hand, allowing them to offend Him, and so they might return to their former miserable condition.
    • They care nothing for their own pain or glory;
    • In my opinion we ought during our whole life, to act in this manner, however sublime our prayer may be.
    • Let us begin by considering the mercy God showed us by giving us His only Son; let us not stop here but go on to reflect upon all the mysteries of His glorious life;
    • Souls led by God in supernatural ways and raised to perfect contemplation are right in declaring they cannot practise this kind of meditation.
    • There are souls who, having made a beginning, or advanced half-way, when they begin to experience the prayer of quiet and to taste the sweetness and consolations God gives, think it is a great thing to enjoy these spiritual pleasures continually.
  • Chapter VIII. Intellectual Visions (TOC)
    • When our Lord chooses to withdraw His presence, the soul in its loneliness makes every possible effort to induce Him to return. This avails but little, for this grace comes at His will and not by our endeavours.
    • At times we may enjoy the company of some saint, which also brings us great  profit.
  • Chapter IX. Imaginary Visions (TOC)
    • Now we come to treat of imaginary visions …. The splendour of Him Who is revealed in the vision resembles an infused light like that of the sun covered with a veil as transparent as a diamond, if such a texture could be woven, while His raiment looks like fine linen. The soul to whom God grants this vision almost always falls into an ecstasy, nature being too weak to bear so dread a sight.
  • Chapter X. Intellectual Visions Continued (TOC)
    • Let us remember, sisters, how those who are in hell lack this submission to the divine

    will ….

  • Chapter XI. The Dart of Love  (TOC)
    • This favour entails great suffering but leaves most precious graces within the soul, which loses all fear of any crosses it may henceforth meet with, for in comparison with the acute anguish it has gone through all else seems nothing.
  • THE SEVENTH MANSIONS (TOC)
    • Chapter I. God’s Presence Chamber  (TOC)
        • You may think, sisters, that so much has been said of this spiritual journey that nothing remains to be added. That would be a great mistake: God’s immensity has no limits, neither have His works; therefore, who can recount His mercies and His greatness?
        • You may fancy that such a person is beside herself and that her mind is too inebriated to care for anything else. On the contrary, she is far more active than before in all that concerns God’s service, and when at leisure she enjoys this blessed companionship.
        • Unless she first deserts God, I believe He will never cease to make her clearly sensible of His presence: she feels confident, as indeed she may, that He will never so fail her as to allow her to lose this favour after once bestowing it; at the same time, she is more careful than before to avoid offending Him in any way.
    • Chapter II. Spiritual Marriage (TOC)
        • This is not so in the spiritual marriage with our Lord, where the soul always remains in its centre with its God.
      • But spiritual marriage is like rain falling from heaven into a river or stream, becoming one and the same liquid, so that the river and rain water cannot be divided; This becomes more manifest by its effects as time goes on, for the soul learns that it is God Who gives it ‘life,’ by certain secret intuitions too strong to be misunderstood, and keenly felt, although impossible to describe.
      • These produce such over-mastering feelings that the person experiencing them cannot refrain from amorous exclamations, such as: ‘O Life of my life, and Power which doth uphold me!’
      • A person who was unexpectedly plunged into water could not fail to be aware of it; here the case is the same, but even more evident.
    • CChapter III. Its Effects (TOC)
      • THE little butterfly has died with the greatest joy at having found rest at last, and now Christ lives in her.
      • I, too, am astonished at seeing that when the soul arrives at this state it does not go into ecstasies except perhaps on rare occasions—even then they are not like the former trances and the flight of the spirit and seldom take place in public as they did before.
      • These effects, with all the other good fruits I have mentioned of the different degrees of prayer, are given by God to the soul when it draws near Him to receive that ‘kiss of His mouth’ for which the bride asked, and I believe her petition is now granted.
    • Here the overflowing waters are given to the wounded heart: here she delights in the tabernacles of God: Sometimes they long to die and be in safety, but then their love at once makes them wish to live in order to serve God, as I told you; therefore they commit all that concerns them to His mercy, David Reese, thoughtsofgod, mythoughts, thoughts of God
      • Here the overflowing waters are given to the wounded heart: here she delights in the tabernacles of God: Sometimes they long to die and be in safety, but then their love at once makes them wish to live in order to serve God, as I told you; therefore they commit all that concerns them to His mercy.
    • Chapter IV. Martha and Mary  (TOC)
      • Do not fancy that in spite of the strong desire and determination of these souls that they do not commit imperfections and even fall into many sins: that is, not wilfully; for such people are given special grace from God on this point: I mean venial sins. As far as they are aware, they are free from mortal sins, although they do not feel certain they may not be guilty of some of which they are ignorant.
      • We always find that those nearest to Christ our Lord bear the heaviest cross:
      • Though thou shouldst have been rapt up to the third heaven with Saint Paul, thou art not thereby secured that thou shalt suffer no adversity. ‘I,’ said Jesus, ‘will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake’ (Acts. ix. 16).
        • To suffer, therefore, is what waits for thee, if thou wilt love Jesus and constantly serve Him For our merit and the advancement of our state consist not in having many sweetnesses and consolations, but rather in bearing great afflictions and tribulations’
      • Oh, my sisters, how forgetful of her ease, how unmindful of honours, and how far from seeking men’s esteem should she be whose soul God thus chooses for His special dwelling-place! For if her mind is fixed on Him, as it ought to be, she must needs forget herself: all her thoughts are bent on how to please Him better and when and how she can show the love she bears Him.
      • This is the end and aim of prayer, my daughters; this is the reason of the spiritual marriage whose children are always good works.
      • Do you know what it is to be truly spiritual? It is for men to make themselves the slaves of God—branded with His mark, which is the cross.
      • Indeed the body suffers much while alive, for whatever work it does, the soul has energy for far greater tasks and goads it on to more, for all it can perform appears as nothing.
    • This, my sisters, is what I would have us strive for—to offer our petitions and to practise prayer, not for our own enjoyment but to gain strength to serve God. Let us seek no fresh path; we should lose ourselves in ways of ease. It would be a strange thing to fancy we should gain these graces by any other road than that by which Jesus and all His saints have gone before. Let us not dream of such a thing: believe me, both Martha and Mary must entertain our Lord and keep Him as their Guest, nor must they be so inhospitable as to offer Him no food. How can Mary do this while she sits at His feet, if her sister does not help her? David Reese, mythoughts, thoughtsofgod, thoughts of God
      • This, my sisters, is what I would have us strive for—to offer our petitions and to practise prayer, not for our own enjoyment but to gain strength to serve God. Let us seek no fresh path; we should lose ourselves in ways of ease. It would be a strange thing to fancy we should gain these graces by any other road than that by which Jesus and all His saints have gone before. Let us not dream of such a thing: believe me, both Martha and Mary must entertain our Lord and keep Him as their Guest, nor must they be so inhospitable as to offer Him no food. How can Mary do this while she sits at His feet, if her sister does not help her?
      • His food is that in every possible way we should draw souls to Him so that they may be saved and may praise Him for ever.
      • You may offer two objections—
        • first, that I said that Mary had chosen the better part, for she had already done Martha’s work by waiting on our Lord, by washing His feet and by wiping them with her hair.
          • I believe, myself, that she did not suffer martyrdom because she was already a martyr by grief at witnessing the crucifixion. Then what terrible pain His absence must have caused her during the long years afterwards! You see, she was not always enjoying contemplation at the feet of our Saviour!
      •  Mary had chosen the better part, for she had already done Martha’s work by waiting on our Lord, by washing His feet and by wiping them with her hair. David Reese, mythoughts, thouhgtsofgod, thoughts of God
        • Secondly, you may say that you have neither the power nor the means to lead souls to God; though you would willingly do so, you do not know how, as you can neither teach nor preach as did the Apostles.
          • I have often written an answer to this objection though I cannot tell whether I have done so in connection with the Castle. However, as the difficulty probably often crosses your minds on account of the desires our Lord gives you of serving Him, I will now speak of it again.
            • I told you elsewhere how the devil frequently fills our thoughts with great schemes, so that instead of putting our hands to what work we can do to serve our Lord, we may rest satisfied with wishing to perform impossibilities.
            • You can do much by prayer; and then, do not try to help the whole world, but principally your companions; this work will be all the better because you are the more bound to it. Do you think it is a trifling matter that your humility and mortification, your readiness to serve your sisters, your fervent charity towards them, and your love of God, should be as a fire to enkindle their zeal, and that you should constantly incite them to practise the other virtues? This would be a great work and one most pleasing to our Lord: by thus doing all that is in your power, you would prove to His Majesty your willingness to do still more and He would reward you as if you had won Him many souls.
            • In short, my sisters, I will conclude with this advice; do not build towers without a
              • foundation, for our Lord does not care so much for the importance of our works as for the love with which they are done.
              • When we do all we can, His Majesty will enable us to do more every day. If we do not grow weary, but during the brief time this life lasts (and perhaps it will be shorter than any of you think) we give our Lord every sacrifice we can, both interior and exterior, His Majesty will unite them with that He offered to His Father for us on the Cross so that they may be worth the value given them by our love, however mean the works themselves may be.

IHS
ALTHOUGH, as I told you, I felt reluctant to begin this work, yet now it is finished I am very glad to have written it, and I think my trouble has been well spent, though I confess it has cost me but little. Considering your strict enclosure, the little recreation you have, my sisters, and how many conveniences are wanting in some of your convents, I think it may console you to enjoy yourselves in this interior castle which you can enter, and walk about  at will, at any hour you please, without asking leave of your superiors. It is true you cannot enter all the mansions by your own power, however great it may appear to you, unless the Lord of the castle Himself admits you. Therefore I advise you to use no violence if you meet with any obstacle, for that would displease Him so much that He would never give you admission to them. He dearly loves humility:2 if you think yourselves unworthy to enter the third mansion, He will grant you all the sooner the favour of entering the fifth. Then, if you serve Him well there and often repair to it, He will draw you into the mansion where He dwells Himself, whence you need never depart unless called away by the Prioress, whose commands this sovereign Master wishes you to obey as if they were His own. If by her orders, you are often absent from His presence chamber, whenever you return He will hold the door open for you. When once you have learnt how to enjoy this castle, you will always find rest, however painful your trials may be, in the hope of returning to your Lord, which no one can prevent. Although I have only mentioned seven mansions, yet each one contains many more rooms, above, below, and around it, with fair gardens, fountains, and labyrinths, besides other things so delightful that you will wish to consume yourself in praising in return the great God Who has created the soul to His own image and likeness. If you find anything in the plan of this treatise which helps you to know Him better, be certain that it is sent by His Majesty to encourage you, and that whatever you find amiss in it is my own. In return for my strong desire to aid you in serving Him, my God and my Lord, I implore you, whenever you read this, to praise His Majesty fervently in my name and to beg Him to prosper His Church, to give light to the Lutherans, to pardon my sins and to free me from purgatory, where perhaps I shall be, by the mercy of God, when you see this book (if it is given to you after having been examined by theologians). If these writings contain any error, it is through my ignorance; I submit in all things to the teachings of the holy Catholic Roman Church, of which I am now a member, as I protest and promise I will be both in life and death. May our Lord God be for ever praised and blessed! Amen, Amen.

I finished writing this book in the convent of St. Joseph of Avila, 1577, on the Vigil of St. Andrew, for the glory of God, Who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever! Amen.

HERE ENDS THE INTERIOR CASTLE OR THE MANSIONS (TOC)

TRANSLATED AND PRINTED BY THE BENEDICTINES OF STANBROOK A.D. MCMXXI,  The Interior Castle or The Mansions,  Teresa of Avila, St. Zimmerman, Benedict (Editor) Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library