Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
The picture of the child looking at the sky under the rain while she is eating a banana, gives us a general idea of the fourth mansions in which we are about to enter. It is not unfamiliar with the Gospel. Jesus from Nazareth, due to the trend God has to choose the little ones, places children as believer´s role models in His spiritual walk. Not only because He is in favour of the little ones, but for the essential characteristic of the child: the trust given by his parents.
The “servants of God” are going to enter into another world, the one of the love of God, with the same trust a child has in his mother´s arms: “for as yet the soul is not even weaned but is like a child beginning to suck the breast. If it be taken from its mother, what can it be expected to do but die? (Interior Castle 4.3.10).The word which makes a difference between the first three mansions and the four last ones is, “supernatural”, “for we now begin to touch the supernatural and this is most difficult to explain” (Interior Castle 4.1.1). It means that from now on we are changing our register.
We have been looking for God during the first three mansions. From the fourth mansion on, it will be the love of God who will lead the way and will look for us. The relationship will still be the same, communication with Jesus and us, with the difference of the fact that now, we are living from the love God gives us. No doubt that the relationship with the God of the first three mansions has given us plenty of satisfactions, which may not be forgotten. The first three ones will be the foundation forever. We will never stop practising them. The difference between the three first ones and the following four ones will be that, in prayer, (or just in the middle of our life), we are going to experience the love of God. The time or length of those gifts plays an important role. At first it will last very short time and in the next mansions the time will become longer.In other words, by faith we know that God is love and all salvation work in Jesus Christ is a task of love to humanity.
Saint Teresa of Jesus wants to show that this love can be experienced by men in this life by pure grace, if one is at least slightly prepared. It will be a story of love received, deeper and deeper, with more intensity and greater length of time. While still loving God and our neighbours, we will start experiencing donations of gifts (=favours/ Spanish: mercedes) from the love of God. Our life will change much more than we had dreamt, it will be a path of happiness and of service to others.
The ones who enter in this world are generally those who have been practising a spiritual life for a long time, with three kinds of prayers already explained: vocal, meditation and recollection prayer. Although as the mystery of God is made known as it wants, it is possible that a person can enjoy these pure waters at the very moment of having started a spiritual life. In other words, in our personal and community relationship maintained with God, Jesus Christ wants to take the plunge and approach us to have a more intimate communication.
We are into mysticism. The word will be used to describe the mystery of life from a love we receive and accept. This approach involves the salvation of the human being who receives the love of God free, changes our heart, and springs us into action in favour of others. This also means that we should keep on collaborating with the grace-with “disposition” of soul, using Teresa´s language-as much as we can, helped by the Holy Spirit who takes control of spiritual life. You may remember than in the second mansion, when explaining meditation prayer, and once we had finished meditating the Gospel, Teresa used to recommend to look and allow ourselves to be looked by God. Now then, at the end of meditation and recollection prayer we will love and will allow ourselves to be loved, especially the second one. We will never force it or try to get it with our power. They will be received gifts with gratitude and praise to God. Love which will make us understand the main point of the mysteries in Christ life: Mount Tabor in the fourth mansions; The Passion of Christ in the fifth mansions; the slow learning of an authentic love in the eleven chapters of the sixth mansion, the cross included; and Resurrection, Ascension and Christ´s second coming in the seventh mansions. Those main mysteries in the life of Christ will go along with our collaboration, there still much left to hand over to God and the effects and the action needed to be converted to Jesus Christ. In this new period, we need to be loyal to two things: to the thoughts of Teresa of Jesus described in the fourth mansion and to its parallel texts in The Life and The Way of Perfection. Over the years the vocabulary of her first writings in The Life and her last ones in The Interior Castle, change. We will choose as comprehensive key, the last one that is: The Interior Castle. From it, we will assume her previous writings. On the other hand, we also have to be loyal to the man of the 21st century, in dialogue with contemporary theology and philosophy.
Let´s give an example from modern theology. Teresa of Jesus is doctor of the Church and she can enter into dialogue with the best theologians; furthermore, it is convenient to compare her with other thinkers so as to demonstrate that her intuitions are still acceptable. Two of the great theologians in the 20th century were Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar.
Rahner always starts his search of God from the point of view of the human being (from an anthropological point of view is from which certain possible conditions are searched to be able to listen to God´s revelation), Balthasar considers that to start from cosmology (cosmological paradigm) as it used to be done in the past, is not valid any more, nor from the point of view of the human being (anthropological paradigm followed by Rahner).
None of them are adequate to the present situation. He decides to start from the revelation of God to the human being, let´s say, from above, and revelation has a key word which comprises everything: Love.
God came to the world in His Son Jesus Christ to let us know the infinite love He has to humanity. He offers us this possibility of living from this love which, if accepted, can change our life radically. The offer is so great and free that we humans find it hard to accept it.
The title of one of Balthasar´s books: “Love Alone is Credible” says it all, “In the realm of revelation, wherein God´s kenotically condescending Logos expresses himself as love, Agape, and thus as Glory (…), a gift from the Eternal Person to the finite person, a gift that includes the ability to respond as a finite creature to the infinite, and whose heart and essence is love”.
If we now go back to Teresa, we will see that her method always comes from the human being, from the communication with Jesus through prayer which is teaching us how to live, following the steps of the Humanity of Christ and trying to change our heart and values in life.
Suddenly, from the fourth mansions and on, without leaving that method, she throws herself into the idea of how -little by little- we are discovering and receiving the Love of God, with increasingly intensity and depth from the beginning of fourth mansion. This divine love which is one, has been poured out abundantly into us.
It is there where her genius is and makes her an unsurpassable master. The subtlety of this love given to us is described in full detail. She is going to explain it from her experience, she will explain us how to reach the experience of that divine love in its varied degrees, provided we are prepared, never looking for those gifts of love, but receiving what we are given with humility.
In conclusion: Teresa of Jesus, from modern theology, agrees with Rahner all along her itinerary and assumes the revelation of the love of Balthasar since the fourth mansion, brilliantly decoding the steps after the reception of Divine Love, its transformation in a person and the practical way to live the love to others. For those who want to read the fourth mansion thoroughly and don´t have the book, I enclose this link of the book: The Interior Castle by Teresa of Jesus.