Interior Castle: Sixth Mansions: Chapter Seven
We reach a level spiritual maturity and then stall. We try hard. We desire to move forward in love, but progress is limited or non-existent. Teresa says, “The soul is desirous of employing itself wholly in love and it would be glad if it could meditate on nothing else.” So what’s the problem? The problem is we pursue love, but we’ve disconnected from the source of love. We’ve become dependent on our “will” to act in love instead of meditating on the life of Christ and His Passion to fuel love, humility, and spiritual growth.
Once we’ve received a number of divine favors and spiritual successes, we assume we can execute the Christian life at will. After all, we know what to do, we’ve done it before, and we can do it again. Right! But it’s not that simple. Teresa says,”[The] whole aim of meditation is to seek God, and once He is found, and the soul grows accustomed to seeking Him again by means of the will, it has no desire to fatigue itself with intellectual labor.” The “intellectual labor” being the meditation practices on the life of Christ and His passion that drive spiritual growth.
We’ve become so familiar with the Christian life “[we] can no longer meditate upon the mysteries of the Passion and the life of Christ, as [we] could before.” And this is the obstacle most “mature” Christians face in trying to make progress through the Interior Castle. We try to substitute with sermons, reading Christian books, participating in study groups, and volunteering — all good things. But if we stay disconnected from the source of love and spiritual growth, trying harder at support activities won’t help.
The “will” by itself cannot create love, humility, and spiritual depth. Teresa says “the will is not dead” — the problem is “the fire that habitually kindles [the will] is going out, and if it is to give off heat of itself, it needs someone to fan it into flame.”
See also: Meditate. On What?