Tools for Spiritual Growth

Summary of Mansions 1-3

Before we move to the fourth Mansions of the Interior Castle, here is an overview of Mansions 1-3. I summarized the main ideas under three headings:

  • The Metaphor
  • Critical Elements
  • Additional Tools (for our Spiritual Growth).

The Metaphor

The Interior Castle is our soul. According to Teresa, our soul is like a single diamond in which there are many rooms. At the center of the Castle is where the King (Jesus) resides. The soul (The Interior Castle) has great dignity and beauty and is a paradise in which God takes great delight. Teresa asks, “what do you think a room will be like that is the delight of a King so mighty, so wise, so pure and so full of all that is good?”  

We enter the Interior Castle by “prayer and meditation” and our destination is the center of the castle where the most “secret things pass between God and the soul”. This is the interior journey.  Teresa says, “You will have read certain books on prayer which advise the soul to enter within itself: and that is exactly what this means.”

Critical Elements

Self-Knowledge: Progress through the Interior Castle requires even the most spiritually mature to spend time in the rooms of self-knowledge. Through self-knowledge we better understand the beauty and dignity of our souls and learn humility. Teresa says, “without humility all will be lost”.  (Read more)

Avoid Reptiles: Reptiles are preoccupations or “worldly attachments”. They keep us anchored in the courtyard inhibiting us from exploring the many rooms of the castle. (Read more)

Sin: We are a tree of life. When planted in the “living waters of life” we thrive spiritually and bring renewal to a battered world. When we plant ourselves in the polluted waters of sin we limit our spiritual progress and miss opportunities to give life to others. (Read more)

Spiritual Favors: Spiritual favors shatter complacency and fuel growth. Properly applied, they lead to good works, virtue, praise, love, and fortitude. Also with spiritual favors, the progress of our souls takes place with less effort. While spiritual favors add substance, Teresa says, “perfection consists not in consolations (spiritual favors) but in the increase in love”. (Read more)

Spiritual Warfare: Three strategies in which the Devil excels: (1) Getting us to believe lies – especially about ourselves (2) Distractions and (3) The undermining of love. (Read more)

Additional Tools
  • Listen for God: He speaks to us through conversations with good people, sermons, books, trials, and prayer. (Read more)
  • Develop Spiritual Habits: Establish sustainable “spiritual habits” especially around prayer and meditation. Start small, repeat daily. (Read more)
  • Rely on Your Faculties: Your reason, faith, memory, will, and understanding are reliable guides. Use them. (Read more)
  • Perseverance: We drive the devil away when we resolve not to be defeated. (Read more)
  • Increase Velocity: Teresa says we must avoid “this habit of always serving God at a snail’s pace!” and spending our time refining “our carefully ordered life”. (Read more)
  • Avoid Distractions: We can live virtuous lives and still cling to wealth or reputation. Distractions will keep us from surrendering all to follow Jesus. (Read more)
  • Find a Spiritual Director: When I talk about spiritual directors, I’m talking about wise people with a holistic approach to life. (Read more)

Thank you for reading Teresa of Avila Turns 500. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Follow on Twitter: @Dave_Small

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Jesus Follower, Blogger, Public Speaker.

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Posted in Summaries

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