But the devil comes with his artful wiles, and, under color of doing good, sets about undermining it (the soul) in trivial ways, and involving it in practices that, so he gives it to understand are not wrong; little by little he darkens its understanding, and weakens its will, and causes self-love to increase, until in one way and another he begins to withdraw it from the love of God and to persuade it to indulge its own wishes. (Teresa of Avila: Fifth Mansions: Chapter Four)
We are so fond of ourselves and so very careful not to lose any of our rights! Oh, what a great mistake we make! May the Lord in His mercy give us light lest we fall into such darkness. (Teresa of Avila: Fifth Mansions: Chapter Four)
As we near the sixth Mansions of the Interior Castle we’ve gained a certain level of spiritual maturity. We’ve aligned our will with Christ and we love our neighbor. Unfortunately, some of us fall into the devil’s trap and slip away from God. Teresa says, “there is no enclosure so strictly guarded that he (the devil) cannot enter it, and no desert so solitary that he cannot visit it.”
The devil is more deceptive in the fifth Mansions than previous Mansions. He brings many little things into our lives and convinces us that these things are not wrong. Then a slow, subtle deception occurs. He dulls our understanding, weakens our will, and increases our self-love. The devil is so skilled at eroding our spiritual life we barely notice until the damage is done.
We treat our undiagnosed spiritual condition by doing more for “me”, “protecting my rights”, and other forms of self-love (instead of self-care). We become spiritually formless with a string of strained relationships. Deep down we know something isn’t right, but we convince ourselves that our regression is progress and we possess enlightenment lacking in the rest of the Christian community.
Remember the days when we were sensitive to sin and loved others more than ourselves. That wasn’t a perfect time, but it’s probably the source of most blessings we enjoy today.