In summarizing Chapter One of the First Mansions I have grouped this material into three categories: Our Identity, First Steps, and Obstacles. Complete blog posts for this chapter are categorized under First Mansions – Chapter One.
- The Interior Castle: Teresa’s metaphor to understand our souls is that of a castle made of a single diamond in which there are many rooms. At the center of the castle is where the most intimate exchanges take place between God and the soul.
- The Image of God: This provides the foundation for our core identity. Being “made in His image means that we can hardly form any conception of the soul’s great dignity and beauty.”
- The Indwelling Trinity: The indwelling Trinity validates the beauty and dignity of our souls and the importance of the interior journey.
- The Beauty and Dignity of our Souls: Teresa says, “I can find nothing with which to compare the great beauty of a soul and its great capacity.”
- Self-knowledge: Teresa says we should learn self-knowledge because it is important to understand who we are and the capacity of our souls. This self-knowledge includes humility as we better recognize the distinction between the created and the Creator. Teresa encourages us to spend a great deal of time in the rooms of self-knowledge.
- Divine Favors: God grants us divine favors. This is an important topic throughout the book. We do not earn these favors nor are they a measurement of our goodness or lack of goodness — they are a gift. It is also important how we view divine favors given to others. If these disturb us, Teresa says, we are “lacking in humility and love of neighbor”.
- Prayer and Meditation: Prayer and meditation are the entry point to the interior castle. While we do not earn God’s favors we can be more attentive to him. As we go into other rooms of the castle we may practice ascetic prayer and experience mystical prayer. Ascetic prayer is action we initiate with God. Mystical Prayer is action God initiates with us.
Teresa warns about preoccupations and “worldly attachments”. These keep us anchored in the courtyard inhibiting us from exploring the many rooms of the castle. She calls these preoccupations and attachments “reptiles”.
Invitation: We now move to Chapter Two of the First Mansions. Please join me as we continue to learn from Teresa of Avila about the Interior Castle.