Interior Castle: Sixth Mansions: Chapter Six
We’ve moved deep into the Interior Castle, but have not yet reached the Seventh Mansions “where in a wonderful way the soul never ceases to walk with Christ our Lord but is ever in the company of both His Divine and His human nature.”
In the Sixth Mansions we can deepen our spiritual walk by being attentive to a number of areas. These areas include:
- Seeking His presence. Teresa references the Song of Songs 1.1-3 and applies this to our spiritual journey.* (See also: Prayer, Poetry and Sex.)
- Meditating on God as Creator. Teresa references Saint Augustine’s Confessions.**
- Meditating on our past mystical experiences and learning from them. But we should avoid trying to reproduce those experiences. Teresa says, “let us not be so foolish as to lose time by waiting to receive what has been given us once already.”
- Keeping His commandments. (See Loving our Neighbor.)
- Meditating on His life and death. This is an essential step in Christian spiritual formation. (See Stalled and Meditate. On What?)
- Reflecting on His goodness and what we owe Him in response.
*Song of Songs 3.1-3 (NRSV)
UPON my bed at night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not;
I called him, but he gave no answer.
“I will rise now and go about the city,
in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.”
I sought him, but found him not.
The sentinels found me,
as they went about in the city.
Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
** Saint Augustine: Confessions
(9) And what is the object of my love? I asked the earth and it said: ‘It is not I.’ I asked all that is in it; they made the same confession (Job 28.12 f.). I asked the sea, the deeps, the living creatures that creep, and they responded: ‘We are not your God, look beyond us.’ I asked the breezes which blow and the entire air with its inhabitants said: ‘Anaximenes was mistaken; I am not God.’ I asked the heaven, sun, moon and stars; they said: ‘Nor are we the God whom you seek.’ And I said to all these things in my external environment: ‘Tell me of my God who you are not, tell me something about him.’ And with a great voice they cried out: ‘He made us’ (Ps. 99.3). My question was the attention I gave to them, and their response was their beauty.
Then I turned towards myself, and said to myself: ‘Who are you?’ I replied: ‘A man.’ I see in myself a body and a soul, one external, and the other internal.’ Which of these should I have questioned about my God, for whom I had already searched through the physical order of things from earth to heaven, as far as I could send the rays of my eyes as messengers? What is inward is superior. All physical evidence is reported to the mind which presides and judges of the responses of heaven and earth and all things in them, as they say ‘We are not God’ and ‘He made us’. The inner man knows this—I, I the mind through the sense-perception of my body. I asked the mass of the sun about my God, and it replied to me: ‘It is not I, but he made me.’
(10) Surely this beauty should be self-evident to all who are of sound mind. . . . There is no alteration in the voice which is their beauty. If one person sees while another one sees and questions, it is not that they appear one way to the first and another way to the second. It is rather that the created order speaks to all, but is understood by those who hear its outward voice and compare it with the truth within themselves.
Translation: Saint Augustine: Confessions. Harry Chadwick. Oxford World Classics. Oxford University Press. 1991.
There is so much more in store, why live in the past. Celebrate the past, but anticipate the future. Love it.