Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
A barrier to embrace the love God may give us, seems insurmountable: our own misery.
We consider ourselves undeserving to receive the love of God, nobody can trick Him and He knows well our limitations and miseries. We can´t believe that someone can love us knowing how we are. We think that, to be loved, we need to deserve it.
It seems incredible to us the love of someone else without demanding anything in return, without having honed our self.
We don´t understand a free God, it confounds us. How is it possible that this mysterious strength we call God and to whom we define as love can love His creatures just the way they are? What does it involve the process of genuine love?
To answer to these questions from the fourth mansion we have to go back to the beginning.
We get to spiritual life as a result of a range of circumstances in life, seeking sense to the big questions, a conversation with someone, an event which has an impression on us, the faith legacy from certain relatives, etc. Just there, at the very beginning God was already calling and loving. He loved us first, we read in the Bible. The first steps aren´t ours, the main character is Another One who takes the lead.
In the first mansions-to which we will always come back-we learnt that the first calls to live in communication with Jesus Christ God consists in getting to know and love Him. The calls were simple, to learn to meditate, observe the commandments, read a book, approach the sacrament of Reconciliation and Eucharist, look for other people seekers of God and share with them the daily prayer proposed by Church.
In so doing it became a habit to devote some time daily to ourselves and to God. Through meditation of the Word of God a friendly relationship with Jesus Christ was brought forth. There we learnt to live following His advice and put it to practical use in our own life.
In the third mansion we took the decision to follow Jesus Christ instead of living our life as the rich young man did. It was a decisive step, because it is just there where love starts as far as we are concerned
I am talking about a love stronger than friendship. It is in the resoluteness of our will where a new space of loving relationship opens. In other words, love is born in the resoluteness of our will.
The One who loved us first was waiting for our consent. He will always do, as He will never force our will, He will always respect our freedom.
We also made an effort to descend deep down and we met our nobility and misery; its result was humility. We made the compromise to entrust our inner dark side to the feet of Christ so as not to be enslaved.
We need to look at the soul´s structure to be able to understand all this.
In Saint Teresa it is explained as follows: the soul has three main helpers, memory, intellect and will; added to a by no means negligible although annoying quality, called imagination, although not considered a faculty.
Following Saint Thomas Aquinas, she thinks that among the three faculties, the most important is the faculty of will as from will, love is born. Will is like an apple or an almond as in the moment that this resolution to love has been taken, it opens and love appears.
Love is to wish to love (in Spanish want/wish and love, is the same word), it is not a feeling. Falling in love in itself is not authentic love although it may become love. We fall in love of the ideal image we have previously got from the other person. Only contact and knowledge, including sharing flaws, our dark zone, could one day be considered love.
In the fourth mansion, now inside mysticism, those calls from Jesus Christ are different from the previous ones. He Himself from our deeper self (called “centre”) launches “whistles” to us, like a shepherd calling his lambs. The image of the Good Shepherd-in the Gospel according to Saint John and of to The Song of Songs-comes on stage and walks with us for the rest of the remaining mansions.
Without any effort on our part, and when Jesus wishes, the shepherd´s whistles recollects the faculties within. In other words, in prayer or outside prayer Jesus comes very close and calls us to recollect ourselves within, He comes to our mind without having taken the decision. At the beginning it may happen in the middle of recollection prayer. The unfocussed mind is called to go to the very centre of the soul, to the will in particular, and He gradually kindles the soul in love.
We can compare that with some of our human love stories when, without pretending, we remember the loved person: this person just comes to our mind. To this first encounter our master calls it, Infused recollection.
If it is a bit deeper and lasts a bit longer, even brief, it starts to change the person completely. We recognise ourselves as loved persons, someone loves me, I will never be alone any more, everything expands; this love bathes us inside, including the body, virtues grow without so much effort, fears are left behind, God´s image change, I can live in peace…It is known as “prayer of quiet” and if it lasts two or three days,” prayer of simple union”. They are the three degrees of prayer or the three intensities of love in the fourth mansion.
A slight whistle of Jesus Christ from the seventh mansion can change our life. The prayer of quiet tastes heavenly. We think we are in Mount Tabor enjoying God´s presence; it is here where we will come when we feel tired, we are giving the first steps to live Heaven on Earth, the Kingdom of God is approaching our life.
When faculties are collected, they are not lost in thought, that is, they are not lost; memory, intellect and imagination lead their lives. You can be daydreaming while a part of you, the most important, which is will, is pretty close to our Lord Jesus and the Trinity. There, in the calmness of love just discovered, you love and you allow yourself to be loved.
Not many words are needed, enough with a few words of love, receive what you are given, you are like a child learning to be breastfed. Enjoy yourself. Don´t worry if your imagination is taken your thoughts wherever it wants. If you are working the dream of the faculties it won´t prevent you from accomplishing your duties.
An essential part of you is with God. Whatever the time it may last, it will taste heavenly, quite literally, you are starting to taste Heaven on Earth. Our friend Jesus knows our miseries and, despite this, He loves us. There will be huge effects, the person´s transformation is gradually growing without any noise or effort; the virtues in Saint Teresa are a way of living from Jesus Christ we should be learning, now in the fourth mansion. He himself will make them grow with a gift of love.
After this general introduction, we will be analysing the fourth mansion and its parallel in her books: The Life, The Way of Perfection and The Relations, thoroughly.