Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
God is entering in our life without any noise, in a peaceful way, or in words of Teresa: “all these interior activities are gentle and peaceful” (Interior Castle 4.3.6). Without leaving the prayers from previous mansions we are now in “supernatural” forms of love or mystical forms. We have reached to this point due to the “desire” for God as well as “most determined resolve” (“determined determination”: this doubling of words is not uncommon in St. Teresa) (The Way of Perfection 21.2.) of leading a spiritual life. Everything is divine grace in this spiritual world, with all the collaboration we can from our part; in words of Teresa, “disposition”. We shouldn´t ever forget that human contribution is linked to a change of heart, verified in every days´ works with our neighbours, along with the growth of “virtues”, or ways of living that we are learning from Jesus Christ through meditation.
To explain infused recollection prayer, nothing better than go to similar experiences we may all have lived. The human mind seems to me a pretty unknown land. In the midst of the confusion of thoughts which frequently hit us daily, we can observe that images or thoughts of people we appreciate or love, come to our mind. We suddenly remember someone without meaning it or realizing. The thought becomes an update presence. Something similar is going to happen us now.
It will be a gift from heaven, without any intervention from our part. Suddenly, Jesus Christ approaches, He comes and recollects us without any effort. The previous practice of recollection are now given free. Our thought keeps still for a moment and a call for recollection goes direct to the will, Teresa calls it whistle. Jesus Christ´s whistle comes from the centre of the seventh mansions, goes directly to the will and awakens it to love. The gospel will be the key reference in this kind of prayer, it is advisable to meditate John 10. Let´s take a closer look to the texts written by Teresa.
“It is a form of recollection which also seems to me supernatural for it does not involve remaining in the dark, or closing the eyes, nor is it dependent upon anything exterior. A person involuntarily closes his eyes and desires solitude” (Interior Castle 4.3.1).
I insist as it is the first time that we are given something without noticing it beforehand. We have been trying to learn to recollect within us for a long time, a difficult art due to so many obstacles we find in life. Recollection is given by our Lord inadvertently. He takes the soul in its very centre through a call. We have already said that many times, deep in our soul, in its deepest part, God lives. From there, Jesus calls with a whistle, similar to the Good Shepherd´s one. The faculties of the soul (memory, intellect and will) and the senses (imagination) get recollected and enter within, as soon as they listen to the whistle:
“The great King, Who dwells in the Mansion within this castle, perceives their good will, and in His great mercy desires to bring them back to Him. So, like a good Shepherd, with a call so gentle that even they can hardly recognize it, He teaches them to know His voice and not to go away and get lost but to return to their Mansion; and so powerful is this Shepherd’s call that they give up the things outside the castle which had led them astray, and once again enter it.” (Interior Castle 4.3.2).
“These people are sometimes in the castle before they have begun to think about God at all. I cannot say where they entered it or how they heard their Shepherd’s call: it was certainly not with their ears, for outwardly such a call is not audible. They become markedly conscious that they are gradually retiring within themselves; anyone who experiences this will discover what I mean: I cannot explain it better.”
(Interior Castle 4.3.3).
These calls which happen in the fourth mansion will be arrows of love in the fifth mansion and fire arrows in the sixth mansion. We now understand that God´s calls to a life of communication with Him have been calling all our lives. Everyone can discover the calls received through other persons, books, events, etc. Those who have experienced all this up to now aren´t better than anybody else, and these person would be doing really wrong if they would feel superior. Better have this attitude: “should give God great praise, (…) and the thanksgiving which he makes for it will prepare him for greater favours.” (Interior Castle 4.3.4). To any grace received, Teresa answers with plentiful thanksgiving, as she thinks that by being grateful the doors to higher gifts, open.
Jesus Christ comes to our aid and as it happens with the “hedgehog and the tortoise”, He himself places us into the castle. Those two examples are often found in spiritual literature in the 16th century. There is a difference, though, the hedgehog and the tortoise roll themselves up at their own choice. Whereas in infused recollection prayer it is God who places us in the centre of the castle. We- at the same time-discover once again, that spirituality is lived in everyday life. The whistle can happen when we are not praying or even when we are distracted.
Once the faculties and senses are recollected, are able for next step: ”To listen”, what happens within our soul, “but to be intent upon discovering what the Lord is working in the soul” (The Interior Castle 4.3.4). The Lord does not measure so much what we do, but the wish to meet Him from the depths of ourselves.
In a rather confused way Teresa gives her opinion about a common argument in those times. Should the soul stop thinking, stop acting with the intellect? Is it time to not thinking about anything? Her Franciscan masters think that she should not to think about anything. She disagrees. I´ll summarize her opinion and leave a more technical explanation for some other time. We are in The Interior Castle 4.3.4-7
“I cannot understand how we can cease thinking in any way which will not bring us more harm than profit” (The Interior Castle 4.3.4).
Once defined her point of view she explains the reasons for her opinion and gives us many instructions: “what we have to do is to beg like poor and needy persons coming before a great and rich Emperor and then cast down our eyes in humble expectation. When from the secret signs He gives us we seem to realize that He is hearing us, it is well for us to keep silence, since He has permitted us to be near Him and there will be no harm in our striving not to labour with the understanding – provided, I mean, that we are able to do so. But if we are not quite sure that the King has heard us, or sees us, we must not stay where we are like ninnies” (The Interior Castle 4.3.5)
Second: “The soul must just leave itself in the hands of God, and do what He wills it to do, completely disregarding its own advantage and resigning itself as much as it possibly can to the will of God.” (The Interior Castle 4.3.6).
Third: It is better not to force ourselves in thinking about nothing, in case our mind may answer thinking too much.
“The fourth reason is that the most important and pleasing thing in God’s eyes is our remembering His honour and glory and forgetting ourselves and our own profit and ease and pleasure.” (The Interior Castle 4.3.6).
Fifth, a sentence summarizes what we have to do: “though it is well for it to remember that it is in God’s presence and Who this God is. If feeling this should lead it into a state of absorption, well and good; but it should not try to understand what this state is, because that is a gift bestowed upon the will. The will, then, should be left to enjoy it, and should not labour except for uttering a few loving words, for although in such a case one may not be striving to cease from thought, such cessation often comes, though for a very short time.” (The Interior Castle 4.3.7).
In a parallel text, Relations 5 She summarizes-one year before writing The Interior Castle-her thought:
“The first prayer of which I was conscious, — in my opinion, supernatural, — so I call that which no skill or effort of ours, however much we labour, can attain to, though we should prepare ourselves for it, and that preparation must be of great service, — is a certain interior recollection1 of which the soul is sensible ; the soul seems to have other senses within itself then, which bear some likeness to the exterior senses it possesses; and thus the soul, withdrawing into itself, seeks to go away from the tumult of its outward senses, and accord ingly it drags them away with itself; for it closes the eyes on purpose that it may neither see, nor hear, nor understand anything but that whereon the soul is then intent, which is to be able to converse with God alone. In this prayer there is no suspension of the faculties and powers of the soul; it retains the full use of them ; but the use of them is retained that they may be occupied with God. This will be easily understood by him whom our Lord shall have raised to this state ; but by him whom He has not, not ; at least, such a one will have need of many words and illustrations.” (Relations 5.3).
She has forgotten to mention the prayer of a presence of God (Relations 5.25) already mentioned. None of the senses or faculties are lost means that except will, the rest of the faculties and senses keep conscious. We are not yet in received acts of love which leave you with rapt attention and all the faculties and senses so impressed that join them together to loving silence. It is very similar to a love meeting between persons. We will come back to this.
When she wrote Life and The Way of Perfection she didn´t have these steps so clear, she mixes prayer of presence, with infused recollection prayer and prayer of quiet. The prayer of simple union, only mentioned in the fourth mansion relates with the third way of drawing water from the well mentioned in her book Life. Her last opinion in The Interior Castle prevails over the other ones. It is the last and definite thought of Teresa. Now it is our turn to live them God willing. Our wish along with the Spirit perform miracles.
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