Let the conclusion of the whole matter be this. We must strive all the time to advance, and, if we are not advancing, we must cherish serious misgivings, as the devil is undoubtedly anxious to exercise his wiles upon us. For it is unthinkable that a soul that has arrived so far should cease to grow: love is never idle, so failure to advance would be a very bad sign. (Teresa of Avila: Fifth Mansions: Chapter Four) Teresa reminds us we must advance spiritually or the devil will attack us. To advance, we must do three things:
- Ask God for help: Teresa says, “[W]e must continually ask God in our prayers” and “never have any confidence in ourselves”. Self-reliance fails.
- Monitor our progress in love and humility: Love and humility are the nerve center of Christian virtue. Self-assessment in these two areas can be effective in measuring our spiritual progress. Anger, self-protection, and defensiveness indicate love and humility are lacking.
- Be attentive to God’s warnings: Teresa says, “His Majesty is so anxious for it (the soul) not to be lost that He gives it a thousand interior warnings of many kinds, and thus it cannot fail to perceive the danger.” God’s warnings come in quantity and variety. When we focus on listening to God, these warning signs are difficult to miss.
Ask God for help. Listen to His warnings. Practice love and humility. Then we will discover the sixth Mansions of the Interior Castle.