Monday, January 4, 2010

The Seven Mansions and the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit-A Meditation Series on St. Teresa's Interior Castle

The First Dwelling Place

The soul is still occupied with the things of the world and the pleasures that come with it.  The grace of the Holy Spirit has led him to this threshold, to turn his heart from worldly things and to begin the life of prayer.

Putting a hand to the door to enter, the beginner tends to look back on the things he is about to give up.  His heart may be sad or fearful at this prospect.

"...the door of entry to this castle is prayer and reflection."
St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

 The characteristics of the person in the First Mansion:

*They are concerned with worldly matters and pleasures
*They are unaware of the beauty and wealth of the interior life
*They are not consistent in prayer
*They rely on vocal prayers or use devotional books
*They are good people who attend church
*They notice the faults of others
*They are focused on self instead of others
*They do not mortify themselves or practice self-renunciation

Even if one has entered deeper into the Interior Castle, we can still see that we travel in and out of these dwelling places.  Perhaps we still possess some of the traits of the beginner noted above. We do not enter the interior mansions in a perfect step-by-step path until we reach the "holy of holies." Because of our human nature we will travel in and out of these spiritual pathways.

Not long ago a very learned man told me that souls who do not practice prayer are like people with paralysed or crippled bodies; even though they have hands and feet they cannot give orders to these hands and feet.

In the above quote St. Teresa is speaking of people who are preoccupied with the things of the world.  She even goes so far to state that there may not be a remedy for these souls who are so unacustomed to prayer.  That is why we should have a great devotion to the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that we cannot even utter "Jesus is Lord" without the help of the Holy Spirit. We need the light of the Holy Spirit and his gifts to guide us on our journey. In the first mansion we reflect on the gift of:

It is the gift of the Holy Spirit whereby the Divine Spirit raises up our intellect and our heart to rest in God alone. It detaches our heart from the goods of this world.

You may wonder why we begin with the gift of wisdom, as it is the crowning glory of the other gifts?  Because, unless we have this gift and the grace it provides to detach ourselves from the things of this world, we will never persevere in prayer.  We need this precious gift in the beginning, along the road of perfection and to the summit of Mt. Carmel, Christ our Lord.

Open to me the gates of holiness. I will enter and give thanks.
Psalm 118

Let us pray for each other that the Lord will indeed open the gate of holiness to us: the door to the Interior Castle. May we reach the center where we will abide in union with the Most Holy Trinity. 

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds


Julia said...

Are you going to do one of the mansions each day? I hope so!!!!

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