Teresa of Avila: Interior Castle: Seventh Mansions: Book Three
Certainly, if there were no other gain in this way of prayer except to understand the particular care God has in communicating with us and beseeching us to remain with him . . . it seems to me that all the trials endured for the sake of enjoying these touches of his love, so gentle and penetrating, would be well worthwhile. (Teresa of Avila)
Negligence in any relationship, including our relationship with God, will cause us to drift away. Negligence comes in two forms: An absence of attention and an absence of response. To further our spiritual development we must cultivate attentiveness and take decisive action.
God is passionate about us. He loves us and likes us. He asks us to “remain” with him even through trials. When we do, he communicates to us with gentle “touches of love” marked by care, kindness, and penetration into our spirit. Teresa says, “When this impulse comes to you [these touches of love and the concurrent personal revelation], remember that it comes from this interior dwelling place where God is in our soul . . . . For certainly that note or letter is his, written with intense love and in such a way that he wants you alone to understand it and what he asks of you in it.”
We note three things about personal revelation:
- The Location of the Revelation: God’s revelation “comes from this interior dwelling place where God is in our soul”. The indwelling Trinity communicates directly to us and within us.
- God’s Passion for Us: This “note or letter” from God is “written with intense love”. This reflects the value he places on our relationship with him and his communication to us.
- Comprehension and Response: It’s for us “alone to understand” what he is asking us to do. Learning and advice from others have their place, but ultimately God’s guidance is not “out there” (advice) it’s “in here” (our hearts).
In some cases, this personal revelation happens “publicly”. Teresa references the Apostle Paul’s experience on the Damascus Road. Sometimes this revelation comes in through trials in a public context: A job loss, a family crisis, illness, or betrayal. And, almost always, this revelation comes when we have too much to do to attend to the revelation. Yet this revelation still calls for immediate and decisive action. (Luke 9.57-62)
The ultimate response to revelation is articulated in the words of the Apostle Paul: “Lord, what will you have me do?” From there, “he will teach you there what will be pleasing to him and the acceptable time.” The acceptable time does not suggest procrastination. But the acceptable time is strategic. Once we discern the direction and timing is set, we strip away the “unessentials” from our life and drive forward with “resolute will” powered by the “intense love’ that produced the revelation.
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.