Summary: Sixth Mansions – Chapter One
We learned about many exterior and interior trials in Chapter One of the Sixth Mansions. The first exterior trial comes from The Critics. Critics inflict damage through criticism, gossip, contempt, and lying. The second trial is praise. Praise, like criticism, distorts our self-knowledge. When we allow praise and criticism to control or define us, it undermines our spiritual progress. The third exterior trial Teresa writes about is physical suffering. Physical suffering, she says, is the most difficult exterior trial. As difficult as physical sufferings can be, they are, according to Teresa, slight in comparison to the interior trials we face: “But oh, when we come to interior sufferings! If these could be described they would make all physical sufferings seem very slight, but it is impossible to describe interior sufferings and how they happen.”
Interior trials include:
- Ineffective spiritual guides: These guides practice scrupulosity and cannot relate to “out of the ordinary” spiritual experiences. For them, “nothing is safe”, they’re “afraid of everything”, and “doubtful” about anything that doesn’t align with their own experiences. Teresa used the word “torture” to describe the outcome of their work.
- Preoccupation with our sins: When we become preoccupied with our sins or perceived sins we stifle God’s healing words and doubt His goodness and protection.
- The “Dark Night of the Soul”: While the “Dark Night” is a difficult trial, it becomes a great light as God shatters our attempts to control our own spiritual life. Through the “Dark Night” he purifies our souls and revolutionizes our life. Many times, God does His greatest work in our darkest hours.
Facing these exterior and interior trials equip the soul for greater intimacy with Christ and “enable it to make a higher flight”.
Sixth Mansions – Chapter Two
In the Second Chapter of the Sixth Mansions we begin to take this “higher flight”. “Our Lord awakens the soul” and “fills it with fervent desire” for Him. This filling flows from the “very depth of the heart”, that is, the Interior Castle (our souls) where Christ resides.
To describe this experience, Teresa uses the phrase “delectably wounded”. We experience a great pain, but there is also great tranquility in our soul. We experience distress, but we also feel His immense love. God is simultaneously present and absent in this delectable wound. Teresa says, “He is present but will not manifest Himself in such a way as to allow [us] to enjoy Him, and this is a great grief, though a sweet and delectable one”. When afflicted with this wound, we never want to be healed because we are “consumed with desire” for Him and He is our greatest joy.
This “delectable wound” is an unexpected experience: “For often when a person is quite unprepared for such a thing, and is not even thinking of God, he is awakened by His Majesty, as though by a rushing comet or a thunderclap.” While no actual sound is heard, we are very aware we are being called by God. And we follow Him deeper into the Interior Castle.