NB: The 1st Mansion corresponds to St. Teresa’s 1st way of obtaining water, that of drawing the water up from a well by using a bucket, which entails a great deal of human effort.
People: These people are free from serious sin and want to avoid offending God (so the King does dwell in their castle), yet they are still immersed in worldly matters and pleasures (a weak relationship with the King, so they scarcely see His light).
Prayer: Although prayer methods are secondary, St. Teresa does value discursive meditation, especially on the Gospels. No complicated steps (don’t think much – love much). Prayer directed towards self-knowledge and humility is important. St. Teresa considers it crucial that we meditate on Our Lord because He leads us to true self-knowledge and humility.
Quotes: “As far as I can understand, the gate by which we are to enter this castle is prayer and consideration. I speak of mental as well as vocal: being prayer, it should be made with attention; for she who does not consider with whom she speaks, and what she asks, and who she is that asks, and of whom she asks, knows little of prayer, however much her lips may move”
People: These people have experienced some growth from the 1st mansion, yet they are in the midst of a tug-of-war battle. The world’s tug makes earthly pleasures very attractive and penances seem unreasonable and scary (will damage our health). God’s tug makes the worldly message appear vain and love for Him more important. Overall, they are “children” in the practice of virtues, having just begun to hear God and follow Him.
Quotes: “The principal object of one who begins to make use of prayer (do not forget this, for it is important), should be to endeavour and resolve, and dispose oneself, with all possible diligence, to conform his will to that of God: be assured, as I shall afterwards mention, that herein consists all that high perfection which we should attain in our spiritual progress… for in doing God’s will consists all our good”
“The gate for entering this castle is prayer”
People: These people “are extremely desirous of not offending His Majesty; who keep themselves from venial sin, are lovers of penance and of their hours of recollection and prayer; who spend their time well, and are exercised in works of charity towards their neighbour; who are very regular in their actions and the government of their house. Nevertheless, human nature still remains an oppressive burden on the spirit and the person finds few spiritual joys.
Quotes: “The journey I speak of is our advancing with great humility, and herein (if you understand me) I consider lies the loss of all losses to those who do not go forward. We should, therefore, imagine that we ourselves have travelled but a little way; and so we should really believe, but that our sisters have made haste, and have advanced far; and we ought not only to desire but endeavour to be the most base and wicked of all creatures."
People: Having tasted divine delight and grown incomparably more in all the virtues than in the previous degrees of prayer, these persons experience great detachment and interior freedom, they lose cravings for all earthly things, and desire more severe penances out of love for God.
Quotes: “After we have done what those in the preceding mansions do, let us practise humility. Humility is that virtue by which our Lord suffers Himself to be overcome, and to grant us whatever we desire of Him. The first mark by which you may discover whether you possess this virtue is, to think yourselves unworthy of these favours and delights from our Lord; nay, that you do not deserve to have them at all during your life."
People: These people are completely forgetful of self, excessively desire solitude, painfully desire to die a thousand deaths and undergo severe penance for His glory to make Him known, are disgusted at earthly things. Their experiences of full union with God, although they are unaware of the gift, are indelible and cannot be forgotten.
Quotes: “O, what a desirable union is this! Happy the soul which has obtained it! she will live with comfort in this life, and none of the evils of this life will trouble her, unless it be from some fear of losing God, or of seeing Him offended. Neither sickness, nor poverty, nor the death of any one can disturb her, except it be the death of one which God’s Church might miss. Such a soul sees clearly that our Lord knows better what to do, than she knows what she desires."
People: These people continue to deepen living the Gospel and experience numerous advanced forms of prayer union with God. All consciousness and speech become centred on God. They have no attachments to anything created and no pleasure in any worldly things. In fact, life on earth becomes burdensome. They have a fixed and constant desire to do extreme penances out of love and die a thousand deaths so that one soul may praise God a little more.
Quotes: “Seeing ourselves, then, to be so imperfect, let us be more fervent in beseeching Him to draw good out of our miseries, that so we may please His Majesty in everything."
People: Our Lord brings people into the 7th mansion by an intellectual vision of the Blessed Trinity. These people have gone from spiritual espousals (6th mansion) into spiritual marriage (7th mansion) and have reached the relative perfection of the Christian life: complete self-forgetfulness, extreme desire to do God’s will and seek His glory, great desire for redemptive suffering, no aridities or inner trials, consider sleep and food as nothing, persecution brings joy. In fact, since she delights so much in doing penance, “her true penance is when God takes away her health and strength, so that she is unable to do any penance."
Quotes: “That which God here communicates to the soul in an instant is so great a secret, and so sublime a grace, and what she feels is such an excessive delight, that I know nothing to compare it to, except that our Lord is pleased at that moment to manifest to her the glory which is in heaven; and this He does in a more sublime way than by any vision or spiritual delight."
The origin of St. Teresa’s Interior Castle came after she received a vision from Christ, picturing “the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of a very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions” (1). In the centre of crystal castle is the Sun, or the King, who gives all the splendour and beauty to the rest of the castle. The closer we approach the centre, the greater the light.