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  #1  
Old Jul 29, '09, 3:22 pm
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Monica4316 Monica4316 is offline
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Default St Teresa's Interior Castle

has anyone here read the "Interior Castle" by St Teresa of Avila?

I've been reading it before but I decided to start again.

I was wondering, do you have any advice on how to actually put it into practice in your life..? it's really mystical (obviously.. ) and sometimes I wonder, - what I should do with this knowledge I just gained. I also never really know what 'mansion' I'm in, I usually assume I'm either in the first or second. St Teresa does say that it doesn't always follow this particular pattern... so for example you can get some spiritual consolations and yet be in the second mansion, not the third.

Anyways, has anyone here read it? what did you think?
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  #2  
Old Jul 29, '09, 8:19 pm
beckycmarie beckycmarie is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Well the first time I read it four years ago, I was not only not in the Castle, I was nowhere near it. I actually read the whole thing thinking at some point it would start to make sense, only to find myself at the end thinking, "I have no idea what I just read." It was like reading in a foreign language.

After I decided to actually start practicing my faith, I tried it again and it made so much more sense. I find that as you begin to experience some of the things St. Teresa is describing, then you understand. Until then it is hard to relate.

I found Fr. Dubay's Fire Within helpful in understanding both St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. Sometimes I need a translator for these classics.

As far as identifying your "mansion," I found the chapter on the Teresian Mansions in Fire Within (which you can read at the link above) very helpful. It is good to have an idea of where you are in the journey, but you don't want to become too preoccupied with what mansion you're in and start fretting about getting to the next one, as if you're trying to reach the next level in Tetris. (Perhaps I am the only one who's done this, but thought I'd mention it in case there are others who think like me.)

It's best to just accept where you are and let God handle the rest, since your spiritual growth is His business anyway. Our job is to cooperate with Him as best we can as He molds us, in His time.

One other thing is that if you're a linear thinker (like me) you might get the idea that things are supposed to happen exactly in that order, and then get confused when something that is supposed to be happening in a later mansion happens in an early one, and vice versa. I think it was Fr. Groeschel who wrote something to the effect that it's like a baby learning to walk - he has to start trying to take steps before he is able to walk or he won't learn how to do it. Often the journey is more like a spiral than it is like a ladder going straight up.

The best suggestion I have for putting into practice what St. Teresa is saying is to commit to daily prayer, at least 30 minutes. But if you're not already praying 30 minutes, then start smaller. I began with 5 minutes a day and disliked it so much I watched the clock. But if you keep committing to that time, you will find your prayer time increasing gradually, and you will begin to look forward to it, and if for some reason you neglect this time, will feel out of sorts at the end of the day. God will take whatever prayer you give Him and use it to transform you, even if all you can give at first is five minutes of prayer badly made.
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  #3  
Old Jul 30, '09, 5:45 am
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Quote:
Originally Posted by beckycmarie View Post
Well the first time I read it four years ago, I was not only not in the Castle, I was nowhere near it. I actually read the whole thing thinking at some point it would start to make sense, only to find myself at the end thinking, "I have no idea what I just read." It was like reading in a foreign language.
that reminds of me how I read (some of) St Teresa's autobiography when I was a new Christian! I knew nothing at all about spiritual things and I didn't even attend church. I wasn't Catholic. I somehow found her book online and started reading it. I remember I kept on wondering, why does she keep on talking about things like humility..I wanted to read about her experiences more. lol. The concepts she described were very very new to me.

But now, that I'm a Catholic, I'm still new to the "contemplative life". I love the spirituality but I don't have much experience with it, and I don't really understand what "contemplation" is totally. and how it differs from other prayers.

Quote:
After I decided to actually start practicing my faith, I tried it again and it made so much more sense. I find that as you begin to experience some of the things St. Teresa is describing, then you understand. Until then it is hard to relate.
yes I think experience might help

Quote:
I found Fr. Dubay's Fire Within helpful in understanding both St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. Sometimes I need a translator for these classics.
thanks!

Quote:
As far as identifying your "mansion," I found the chapter on the Teresian Mansions in Fire Within (which you can read at the link above) very helpful. It is good to have an idea of where you are in the journey, but you don't want to become too preoccupied with what mansion you're in and start fretting about getting to the next one, as if you're trying to reach the next level in Tetris. (Perhaps I am the only one who's done this, but thought I'd mention it in case there are others who think like me.)


Quote:
It's best to just accept where you are and let God handle the rest, since your spiritual growth is His business anyway. Our job is to cooperate with Him as best we can as He molds us, in His time.

One other thing is that if you're a linear thinker (like me) you might get the idea that things are supposed to happen exactly in that order, and then get confused when something that is supposed to be happening in a later mansion happens in an early one, and vice versa.
yea that's what I got confused about!

Quote:
I think it was Fr. Groeschel who wrote something to the effect that it's like a baby learning to walk - he has to start trying to take steps before he is able to walk or he won't learn how to do it. Often the journey is more like a spiral than it is like a ladder going straight up.

The best suggestion I have for putting into practice what St. Teresa is saying is to commit to daily prayer, at least 30 minutes. But if you're not already praying 30 minutes, then start smaller. I began with 5 minutes a day and disliked it so much I watched the clock. But if you keep committing to that time, you will find your prayer time increasing gradually, and you will begin to look forward to it, and if for some reason you neglect this time, will feel out of sorts at the end of the day. God will take whatever prayer you give Him and use it to transform you, even if all you can give at first is five minutes of prayer badly made.

thanks

I say prayers like the Rosary and others.. but I don't really understand what contemplative prayer is supposed to be like. Yet can it be any prayer?

St Teresa talks about the "prayer of quiet".. I'm not there yet at all. But I can't really figure out what that is or how it differs from ..what we do at Adoration? you know when you're just being with God...I read somewhere in that type of prayer that St Teresa describes, you're not really thinking anymore, or trying, or imagining anything.. you're just looking at God and He looks at you.

but..I'll start with mansion number one: room number one: humility always good to have that.

God bless
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  #4  
Old Jul 30, '09, 6:25 am
John Russell Jr John Russell Jr is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

My dear friend Monica

I think there is no set pattern but it's a great general guide. There are a million chambers in our soul I think she says. I would forget about where I am in the stages unless I knew for sure and instead just focus on doing what brings progress. I'd just love God and pray always in one form or another and lead a very holy and virtuos life. The book does not deal much with the night of sense or spirit from memory so a journey can vary a lot from what's written I've heard. It's great if you understand what's going on in the spiritual life, but more important to do what brings progress and persevere always. Because there are many severe trials that God sends those He loves to purify them, make them cleave to Him and help them progress. Hope this helps.

May God bless you

John
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  #5  
Old Jul 30, '09, 10:04 pm
franny33 franny33 is offline
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Post Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Hello Family, I have read The Interior Castle of the Mansions last year, when I was trying to find out what was happening to me. It was difficult to understand, but I did pick up on the favors which God gives me at certain times.I thought then that I was in the 2nd or 3rd. A couple weeks ago, I began to read again, at the 6th and 7th mansion. Different things are happening to me now. I'm feeling desperate and needing someone to talk to. I feel closer to God. I want to know more. I'm so glad this thread began. Franny
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  #6  
Old Jul 30, '09, 10:31 pm
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Earnest Bunbury Earnest Bunbury is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Yes, "The Fire Within" definitely. Contemplation is related to "Be still, and know that I am God" and is the basis for the opposite of "spiritual sloth" that makes work work work, go go go and do do do the activity of the devil.

It seems we should do the "anointed" work God wants us to do and not the macro economic welfare, health care, or national/international bureaucracy we are implementing in place of God's gospel of solidarity with our human family. We have more bureaucracy because of less charity.

I'm not calling for an end to social programs but they would not be needed in a Catholic subsidiarity plan in loving charity with neighbors around the world. This is where humble contemplation in union with God will lead, to true social justice between people and true justice between God and man.
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  #7  
Old Jul 30, '09, 11:58 pm
John Russell Jr John Russell Jr is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Quote:
Originally Posted by franny33 View Post
Hello Family, I have read The Interior Castle of the Mansions last year, when I was trying to find out what was happening to me. It was difficult to understand, but I did pick up on the favors which God gives me at certain times.I thought then that I was in the 2nd or 3rd. A couple weeks ago, I began to read again, at the 6th and 7th mansion. Different things are happening to me now. I'm feeling desperate and needing someone to talk to. I feel closer to God. I want to know more. I'm so glad this thread began. Franny
My dear friend Franny

You need a good spiritual director. Go to convents and monasteries and ask if any there will be your spiritual director. Otherwise talk to priests you know and tell them all and ask if they can help you find a spiritual director. This is the answer to all.

May His Majesty guide you and give you the best spiritual director

John
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May the Blessed Trinity and Blessed Mother along with all the Hosts of Blessed Spirits and Saints and Sublime Martyrs bless you all and the whole church and world and complete the conversion of Russia quickly and give us world peace +++. We are at the end. Bless you +++ I am John

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  #8  
Old Jul 31, '09, 9:23 pm
danonwaveland danonwaveland is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

I've read through about 100 pages of a 400-page book by Ralph Martin called, "The Fulfillment of All Desire." This book is an explanation of journeying closer to God, using the wisdom of certain mystics, such as John of the Cross, Therese of Avila, the Little Flower, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis de Sales, Catherine of Siena and others I can't recall off-hand. It's a thick book with a lot to consider. However, it is very clear -- he teaches theology at a seminary near Detroit and he clearly is a good communicator -- and easy to understand.

While I haven't finished it, I think this may be a good book to introduce "The Dark Night. . ." and "Interior Castles." As a matter of fact, I think Martin was inspired to write this comparative analysis because of his experiences reading "Interior Castles" a couple times -- at different stages in his journey. He also has a program on EWTN -- by the same name -- that explores some topics in the book. I don't think he goes through the entire book in his program, but the show is both helpful and enjoyable.

Anyway, that's my .02. I hope it helps.

God bless,
Dan
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  #9  
Old Jul 31, '09, 9:50 pm
brigid12 brigid12 is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

I read Interior Castle a few years ago and speaking of a non-linear pattern - I was seemingly at the 4th Mansion and was enjoying "Prayer of Quiet" for up to an hour very day (and I'd have loved more but I couldn't seem to find the time for it), then between a lengthy unemployment and a severe clinical depression I seem to be back practically to square one in prayer. I apparently need a lot of humility, however I have noticed positive fruits in my actions and thoughts.
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  #10  
Old Jul 31, '09, 11:55 pm
John Russell Jr John Russell Jr is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Quote:
Originally Posted by brigid12 View Post
I read Interior Castle a few years ago and speaking of a non-linear pattern - I was seemingly at the 4th Mansion and was enjoying "Prayer of Quiet" for up to an hour very day (and I'd have loved more but I couldn't seem to find the time for it), then between a lengthy unemployment and a severe clinical depression I seem to be back practically to square one in prayer. I apparently need a lot of humility, however I have noticed positive fruits in my actions and thoughts.
My dear friend

I've hear progress can be fast. You can think your going nowhere because very little happens then bang- your very high. There is no set pattern. Trials and suffering are 99% of the path often I think. So if all seems dark and hopeless it may be a good sign? Who knows for sure? The important thing is to persevere and not hink it's going to be a bed of roses. Hope this helps dear friend

May Almighy God bless you and console you abundantly

John
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May the Blessed Trinity and Blessed Mother along with all the Hosts of Blessed Spirits and Saints and Sublime Martyrs bless you all and the whole church and world and complete the conversion of Russia quickly and give us world peace +++. We are at the end. Bless you +++ I am John

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  #11  
Old Aug 1, '09, 7:57 am
FCEGM FCEGM is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monica4316 View Post
has anyone here read the "Interior Castle" by St Teresa of Avila?

I've been reading it before but I decided to start again.

I was wondering, do you have any advice on how to actually put it into practice in your life..? it's really mystical (obviously.. ) and sometimes I wonder, - what I should do with this knowledge I just gained. I also never really know what 'mansion' I'm in, I usually assume I'm either in the first or second. St Teresa does say that it doesn't always follow this particular pattern... so for example you can get some spiritual consolations and yet be in the second mansion, not the third.

Anyways, has anyone here read it? what did you think?
I've read it several times, Monica. The best way to put what you learn into practice is to live in fidelity to the sacramental life, daily offer prayers of gratitude, and seek solitude for at least a half-hour each day is important. Not only do we need physical solitude, but also (and often more importantly) interior solitude, for we allow so much to invade our "interior space"; we daily struggle with this, but once we begin to "taste and see the goodness of the Lord", the soul begins to yearn more and more for this solitude to be alone with the Beloved. We begin to make more room in our lives for Him, and we must practice further detachment from what attracts us away from Him. A simplicity in prayer should be nurtured; we should not be "busy with many words.

Also it's vital to grow in the virtues; authentic prayer will lead to such growth in in conformity to Christ's life planted within us at our Baptism. A good spiritual director is always advisable if one wants to progress in the spiritual life; he or she would be able to help you discern where you are on your pilgrimage. Consolations are often given in the beginning of our ascent to God to urge us onward in our path to Him; it's when we don't receive consolations and yet still continue on that path in fidelity that is the test of the strength of our faith, hope and charity and brings about further spiritual maturity.

Quote:
St Teresa talks about the "prayer of quiet".. I'm not there yet at all. But I can't really figure out what that is or how it differs from ..what we do at Adoration?
In recollection - perhaps what you experience during Adoration - we come to the border of our own powers (under God's assistance of grace) to approach Him. The next step, the Prayer of Quiet, is the beginning of supernatural prayer, contemplation. Contemplation is strictly a movement of God towards the soul, raising it toward an experiential encounter with Him. One usually enters this stage of development by passing through the various stages she writes about in The Way of Perfection and in her autobiography, and more completely in her work The Interior Castle.

In the prayer that precedes a contemplative meeting with God, the soul itself is the one working (all supported by grace, of course). this is seen as the soul beginning to transition from the "second water" to the "third" (as she speaks of it in her autobiography) because the Lord Himself - Who has already progressively taken over the will and the intellect and the imagination - draws the soul into that experiential knowledge of Him that nourishes and emboldens the soul to make further progress. She also points out that this is most often the stage of development where the soul that has made progress remains. Most souls who have reached this stage "return to earth", as she says. Their cares, their attachments cling to them, and so they do not progress further (we're like the rich young man who is unwilling to sell all his possessions). In order to progress we must renounce all self-centeredness.
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  #12  
Old Aug 1, '09, 8:42 am
danonwaveland danonwaveland is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Thanks, FGECM, for a clear and intriguing explanation! I'll have to read it over a few times to let it sink in.

God bless,
Dan
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Old Aug 1, '09, 10:54 am
FCEGM FCEGM is offline
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Originally Posted by danonwaveland View Post
Thanks, FGECM, for a clear and intriguing explanation! I'll have to read it over a few times to let it sink in.

God bless,
Dan
It needs to sink into me, too, Dan.
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Frances

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Magister adest et vocat te.
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  #14  
Old Aug 1, '09, 2:40 pm
franny33 franny33 is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

Hello Family, Thank you John Russel and FCGM...wow! I still have to read that over and over again. Like I said before, I'm mixed up right now. I think that God may be testing me right now. He has tested me before in other ways. Beleive it or not! This happens in this day in age. None of you really know me, so I guess I can tell you. God has ceased giving me those specail favours. I cant figure out what I did wrong. I thought that I was in the 6th mansion. It really doesnt matter what mansion I'm in...I've been crying my eyes out because I miss His love so much. When I pray, I keep telling Him that I will wait forever for Him to return. I never learned about "quiet prayer". Could you please tell me more about that? I am tring to stay strong. I am afraid of the devil tempting me while I'm down.
Franny
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Old Aug 1, '09, 7:17 pm
FCEGM FCEGM is offline
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Default Re: St Teresa's Interior Castle

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Originally Posted by franny33 View Post
Hello Family, Thank you John Russel and FCGM...wow! I still have to read that over and over again. Like I said before, I'm mixed up right now. I think that God may be testing me right now. He has tested me before in other ways. Beleive it or not! This happens in this day in age. None of you really know me, so I guess I can tell you. God has ceased giving me those specail favours. I cant figure out what I did wrong. I thought that I was in the 6th mansion. It really doesnt matter what mansion I'm in...I've been crying my eyes out because I miss His love so much. When I pray, I keep telling Him that I will wait forever for Him to return. I never learned about "quiet prayer". Could you please tell me more about that? I am tring to stay strong. I am afraid of the devil tempting me while I'm down.
Franny

Franny, the prayer of quiet is the beginning of the contemplative life. It is strictly a gift from God, but it is a gift we can prepare to receive through determined fidelity to Christ and His Church, living in prayerful attentiveness to God. He may not bestow this prayer on a soul, but preparing for it will have its eventual reward. Unlike meditation wherein one's intellect moves from point to point considering a mystery of Christ's life, the experience of the prayer of quiet is one of a peaceful awareness of God's presence without any specific thoughts of Him or the reception of spiritual insights; it's a bit like God introducing Himself to the person saying "yes, I AM here". This prayer may be experienced along with the gift of tears which is a quiet welling-up, a gentle response to God's initiating the soul into this higher stage of prayer. Contrary to popular belief, the gift of tears has nothing to do with feelings of overwhelming grief or any kind of emotionalism, but is a response to the movement of God in the soul.

Regarding the cessation of the spiritual comforts you were receiving - and relying on, one of the chief aspects of passive purgation is God's seeming to draw away from the soul; this is so that the soul may learn to love Him in pure faith (a la St. Therese) and not for the spiritual comforts that He can give. The immoderate desire for sensible consolations is being purged through this purification. Not all will experience the same degree or length of this abandonment since each person has his own degrees of self-love and sensuality that must be purified. As St. John counsels, the soul in its beginning walk with God is comforted and urged along with sensible consolations because of its weakness; as the soul is strengthened through fidelity to prayer and renunciation, then God begins to treat the soul as a parent does with a child that is ready for stronger food.

God bless you on your journey!
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