Teresa of Avila: Interior Castle: Seventh Mansions: Chapter Three
In the Seventh Mansions, we are at the center of the Interior Castle (our souls). This is where the King resides. This is where the most intimate exchanges take place between God and the soul. In the other Mansions we desired “consolations or spiritual delights” or moments of ecstasy because it provided revelation from God and/or an experience of closeness to God.
In the Seventh Mansions, the soul no longer seeks these consolations “since the Lord himself is present with these souls and it is His Majesty who now lives” within them. The absence of temporary consolations is replaced with a fortitude and “great detachment from everything”. This “great detachment” actualizes itself in two different ways.
- It desires to be alone to enjoy the presence of God and to praise him.
- Or, it desires to do something “that will benefit some soul.”
This can sound like a barren or unfulfilled life, but here “there are no interior trials or feelings of dryness”. Instead, “the soul lives with a remembrance and tender love of our Lord” which fills us with peace and confidence.
We still may become distracted at times, but “the Lord himself awakens” the soul to return to this interior peace. “In this dwelling place, these impulses are experienced most gently, but they do not proceed from the mind or the memory, nor do they come from anything that would make one think the soul did something on its own.” This call from distraction “is an ordinary and frequent one” and “this interior movement proceeds from the center of the soul [where Christ dwells] and awakens the faculties.”
In the Seventh Mansion, the starting point is not our faculties (reason, faith, memory, will, and understanding). The starting point is the ongoing, direct impulses of the Trinity at the interior of our soul. How we use our faculties distinguishes ascetic prayer from mystical prayer. In ascetic prayer, we use our faculties (by grace) to draw closer to Christ. In mystical prayer, the use of our faculties flows from the inner promptings of the Spirit and explodes into life.
For this post I used a translation of The Interior Castle by Kieran Kavanaugh O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies: Washington D.C. Kindle Edition.
Photo: Norway May 2017 – Dave Small