To those who by the mercy of God have overcome in these combats, and by dint of perseverance have entered the third Mansions, what shall I say but “Happy are those who fear the Lord”? (Teresa of Avila: Third Mansions)
Teresa celebrates. We have reached the third Mansions of the Interior Castle by God’s mercy and our perseverance. She reminds us of the “perfect misery” we endured to get here including constant temptation, our own weaknesses, and the tricks of the devil. And now we have come to a place of stability although not necessarily a place of security. Some still fall after reaching the third Mansions. We should not assume God will rescue us every time we turn back.
The third Mansions are about surrendering our will to God. As we explore these Mansions we may discover the will of God to be different than we have understood from our past religious experiences. Teresa says, “[T]hose who live carefully ordered lives are apt to be shocked at everything and we might well learn very important lessons from the persons who shock us. Our outward comportment and behavior may be better than theirs, but this, though good, is not the most important thing: there is no reason why we should expect everyone else to travel by our own road, and we should not attempt to point them to the spiritual path when perhaps we do not know what it is.”
Teresa pushes us beyond the idea that the will of God is simply a virtuous and well-ordered life. We’ll learn more as explore the third Mansions of the Interior Castle.
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