Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
When talking about meditation prayer at the end of the second mansion we said to allow ourselves to be looked by Jesus. During third mansion we will keep on practising meditation prayer with the daily Word of God with a novelty, instead of looking and allow ourselves to be looked with love, we will make an effort to learn to enter into recollection. It is the human capacity to concentrate, to enter within, till we quieten the noise of images, thoughts, etc. and stay in silence. With a certain effort, time and determination, in a few months we will be able to withdraw the noise within us. We will silence everything without nullifying it, we will tend to close our eyes and keep still.
We are not looking for emptiness, nor a dark area to stay in silence. The apprentice Christian who is learning to enter into recollection, keeps in silence, waiting for a personal dialogue with Jesus our Lord. Silence is to be on the lookout, with open ears and the eagle´s look. The preliminary to recollected silence is due to the fact that our love in our relation with Him is not fluent and we have to get used to silence noises to listen to Him. Once love is born, once our friendship is something else, something similar to fondness, the act of recollection will last seconds, the same period of time of a finger click or the time a snail or hedgehog last to get inside their shell.
This is what new techniques by new oriental praying methods look for. With some huge differences, in Teresa´s case the method is not privileged, nor is recollection an end in itself. It is simply a means to calm your interior down and start a loving dialogue with a Person: Jesus Christ. Nor are instructions given for body posture, breathing, etc. Maybe some people inclined to get distracted can help them as a first step to start a dialogue with Christ.It is my experience that at the beginning the best thing is to give time to Jesus Christ, time enough, and a bit of effort till we can settle our noises down. Our master Teresa tells us that in half a year or a year we may have learn how to do it, although she well knows that there is not an accurate measure for it, as wish and love shatters any prediction.
With our sights set on the tabernacle where our faith ensures us Jesus´ presence, can be of great help. The help of a religious image can also awaken in us the love of Jesus, Mary, or a saint of our devotion.
Whenever you want to enter in recollection prayer and while it takes you a few seconds, keep in silence and listening and be centred in Jesus, the only point; then you can affirm you have learnt the art of recollecting yourself. It will help you for your prayer and for many other aspects in your daily life. It will be really useful to listen to other people. For professional reasons or simply in your relations with everyday people, you will be concentrated in the blink of an eye, ready to listen, having Jesus very close to you.
You will listen at the depth, from the very core of yourself, and it will be really beneficial to both sides.
All the above mentioned will produce a total change and cause what in the following post will be told, the first flares of a friendship with Jesus converted into love. The process of learning to enter in recollection will make a qualitative leap if we know that someone loved is waiting for us beyond the fog of our thoughts. I leave you some texts by Teresa.
Note: The third mansion -as we have said-deals about recollection. We need to add the last chapter of the fourth mansion which was omitted and it is placed in the wrong place. That’s where she distinguishes between spiritual sweetness (contentos) and spiritual consolation (gustos). We leave for some other time. There are also parallel texts in The Life and in The Way of Perfection. Now we need to focus on chapters 26-29 from The Way of Perfection, Valladolid´s codex and learn well how to recollect oneself.
“If one prays in this way, the prayer may be only vocal, but the mind will be recollected much sooner; and this is a prayer which brings with it many blessings. It is called recollection because the soul collects together all the faculties and enters within itself to be with its God. Its Divine Master comes more speedily to teach it, and to grant it the Prayer of Quiet, than in any other way. For, hidden there within itself, it can think about the Passion, and picture the Son, and offer Him to the Father, without wearying the mind by going to seek Him on Mount Calvary, or in the Garden, or at the Column” (The Way of Perfection 28.4)
“Those who are able to shut themselves up in this way within this little Heaven of the soul, wherein dwells the Maker of Heaven and earth, and who have formed the habit of looking at nothing and staying in no place which will distract these outward senses, may be sure that they are walking on an excellent road, and will come without fail to drink of the water of the fountain, for they will journey a long way in a short time. They are like one who travels in a ship, and, if he has a little good wind, reaches the end of his voyage in a few days, while those who go by land take much longer.” (The Way of Perfection 28.5)
“These souls have already, as we may say, put out to sea; though they have not sailed quite out of sight of land, they do what they can to get away from it, in the time at their disposal, by recollecting their senses. If their recollection is genuine, the fact becomes very evident, for it produces certain effects which I do not know how to explain but which anyone will recognize who has experience of them. It is as if the soul were rising from play, for it sees that worldly things are nothing but toys; so in due course it rises above them, like a person entering a strong castle, in order that it may have nothing more to fear from its enemies. It withdraws the senses from all outward things and spurns them so completely that, without its understanding how, its eyes close and it cannot see them and the soul’s spiritual sight becomes clear. Those who walk along this path almost invariably close their eyes when they say their prayers; this, for many reasons, is an admirable custom, since it means that they are making an effort not to look at things of the world. The effort has to be made only at the beginning; later it becomes unnecessary: eventually, in fact, it would cost a greater effort to open the eyes during prayer than to close them. The soul seems to gather up its strength and to master itself at the expense of the body, which it leaves weakened and alone: in this way it becomes stronger for the fight against it.” (The Way of Perfection 28.6)
“This may not be evident at first, if the recollection is not very profound for at this stage it is sometimes more so and sometimes less. At first it may cause a good deal of trouble, for the body insists on its rights, not understanding that if it refuses to admit defeat it is, as it were, cutting off its own head. But if we cultivate the habit, make the necessary effort and practise the exercises for several days, the benefits will reveal themselves, and when we begin to pray we shall realize that the bees are coming to the hive and entering it to make the honey, and all without any effort of ours. For it is the Lord’s will that, in return for the time which their efforts have cost them, the soul and the will should be given this power over the senses. They will only have to make a sign to show that they wish to enter into recollection and the senses will obey and allow themselves to be recollected. Later they may come out again, but it is a great thing that they should ever have surrendered, for if they come out it is as captives and slaves and they do none of the harm that they might have done before. When the will calls them afresh they respond more quickly, until, after they have entered the soul many times, the Lord is pleased that they should remain there altogether in perfect contemplation.” (The Way of Perfection 28.7).
“What has been said should be noted with great care, for, though it seems obscure, it will be understood by anyone desirous of putting it into practice.” (The Way of Perfection 28.8).
“The sea-voyage, then, can be made; and, as it is very important that we should not travel too slowly, let us just consider how we can get accustomed to these good habits. Souls who do so are more secure from many occasions of sin, and the fire of Divine love is the more readily enkindled in them; for they are so near that fire that, however little the blaze has been fanned with the understanding, any small spark that flies out at them will cause them to burst into flame. When no hindrance comes to it from outside, the soul remains alone with its God and is thoroughly prepared to become enkindled.” (The Way of Perfection 28.8).
And now let us imagine that we have within us a palace of priceless worth, built entirely of gold and precious stones a palace, in short, fit for so great a Lord. Imagine that it is partly your doing that this palace should be what it is and this is really true, for there is no building so beautiful as a soul that is pure and full of virtues, and, the greater these virtues are, the more brilliantly do the stones shine. Imagine that within the palace dwells this great King, Who has vouchsafed to become your Father and Who is seated upon a throne of supreme price namely, your heart”. (The Way of Perfection 28.9).
(Photo, Pexel, Pixabay)