Monday, January 11, 2010

The Seven Mansions and the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit-A Meditation Series on the Interior Castle

The Second Dwelling Place

Beginners on the road of prayer still have desires for worldly pleasures that need to be purified. However, in this dwelling place, they experience more intensely the Lord calling them to a deeper prayer life. They feel sorrow that they do not respond immediately to his call.
Characteristics of the soul in this dwelling place:
*Feel sorrow for their lack of perseverance in prayer
*Attracted to worldly pleasures
*Are spiritually moved by sermons
*Are inspired by words of encouragement
*Expect spiritual consolations and judge spiritual progress by them

What a farce it is! Here are we, with a thousand obstacles, drawbacks, and imperfections within ourselves, our virtues so newly born that they have scarcely the strength to act (and God grant that they exist at all!) yet we are not ashamed to expect sweetness in prayer and to complain of feeling dryness.
IC, Chapt. 2, No. 14

St. Teresa teaches that these souls should:

*Associate with spiritual persons
*Remain calm during distractions
*Pray for perseverance in prayer
*Be courageous in the face of temptation
*Embrace the cross
*Do not be discouraged by weakness

One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. (Psalm 27)

The Psalmist reflects the heartfelt desire of the pure of heart, they have only one desire; God alone. We know from the lives of the saints that they had a deep longing for God alone. They worked tirelessly for the Kingdom at the expense of neglecting their physical needs and wants. They kept the goal of heaven ever before them.  We need the light and the grace of the Holy Spirit to help us keep our goal of heaven ever before us. Today we reflect on the gift of:

The Gift of Understanding helps us to grasp the truths of our Catholic Faith so that we may truly live them. When we recite the Creed, we need to pray it with our whole heart, mind, and soul.I BELIEVE IN GOD...I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT...I BELIEVE IN THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS... When the Creed takes root in our heart it's as if we no longer just believe but come to know the truths in our heart, then our lives reflect this holy knowledge. Only by the grace of the Holy Spirit does this come about. And we should be most humbly grateful for so great a gift, the gift of Faith.

It is written that in her final days, when St. Therese was experiencing doubts about the existence of heaven, she wrote out the Creed with a pen filled with her own blood.

Therese confided her temptations against the faith to Fr. Godefroid Madelaine,who was preaching the community retreat in Carmel, October 8-15, 1896. The preacher advised her to carry the Credo on her heart always. Therese decided to write the text of the Creed in her own blood at the end of the Gospel, to show God that she was ready to shed all her blood for each of the articles of the Apostles' Creed, in particular for the last two: "I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting."
(From Therese and Lisieux by Pierre Descouvemont and Helmuth Nils Loose)

We can see that true faith that has taken root in the soul is a perpetual light that burns in the heart of those in union with God.  Even though we do not experience the sensible presence of God with our emotions. St. Therese teaches us that she walked by the dark night of faith even when she experienced the feeling of abandonment by God.

On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.
St. John of the Cross

If we never look up at Him and reflect on what we owe Him for having died for us, I do not understand how we can know Him, or perform good deeds in His service. What value is there in faith without works? and what are they worth if they are not united to the merits of Jesus Christ, our only good? What would incite us to love our Lord unless we thought of Him?
IC, Chap.2,No. 20

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten us with the gift of Understanding. That we who believe will be quick to answer the call of the Lord who desires to spend time with us in prayer. St. Teresa teaches us a great truth also: What value is there in faith without works?  Prayer gives us strength to serve our neighbor in charity. Although the Secular Carmelite is called to a life of intimate prayer, we know we cannot neglect our daily duties. Any consolations we receive are not for our own personal enjoyment but are given to help the soul serve his neighbor, especially when it is difficult. 

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

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