Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
The Promise of an everlasting Love and the Covenant at Sinai are founding events of the faith in Israel.
The frequent breach of the deal made with God led the prophets to dream of a new Covenant which would be deeply assumed. It wasn´t enough to have a few rules and obey them. There was a need of changing people´s hearts and God´s people´s ones. We must remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh, said the prophet Ezekiel, following the trail left by the prophet Jeremiah:
‘This is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their mind and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, “Know the Lord, ”because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’ (Jeremiah 31, 33-34).
The new Covenant sealed with Christ compels Christians to lower down to the depths of the self (that´s why the photographs of the sea). But, what does it mean to get to the depth of oneself? What should I change? We said something about that when talking about the virtue of humility; after having met our own miseries, the person feels unable to judge anyone. Our miseries will be changed to the extent we can after having been handed them over to the foot of Jesus´s cross.
Before entering in the fourth mansion we are taking a step forward, trying to summarise how recollection prayer can help us in this crucial next step.
Let us take an example: the river Ebro, which flows through my native city Zaragoza (Spain). Sometimes it flows with little water and some other times it floods the nearby villages. It can be seen and known by all the citizens. In its banks there are unknown corners which make the delights of their walkers. It also keeps its secrets, its fish, included an enormous sort of fish brought from somewhere, the mud brought by storms and if we carry out an analysis of the waters, loads of drugs thrown by the inhabitants nearby, can be found.
In our lives something similar happens, many things can be seen and other ones are maintained half-hidden. What is our intention when we do something? Our intention is usually good. Inhabitants and visitors of the third mansion, lead a correct life, do good to their neighbours, try to be honest and have no objection to saying they are ordinary Christians. For example: I have just got called for a job interview as I need a job to start a family up. Perfect, lots of courage, we tell the person.
But there is something else. Let´s go back to the river Ebro. It turns out that under the waters there is a world called groundwater. (According to Wikipedia, “water table is the top of an underground surface where the soil or rocks are permanently saturated with water”)
Well then, these waters are under our two cathedrals, El Pilar and La Seo, and they flood several hundred metres of the city centre on both banks. Nobody sees them, nobody knows about them or asks, except architects. Nevertheless they are there, they are necessary for the life of the river. In human life something similar happens, under our intentional actions, consciously or unconsciously there is a deeper dimension of intentionality. Nor revealed, neither seen.
Consciously or unconsciously, it seems that the candidate is not only looking for a job post, he seeks to become rich. That is what is called deeper dimension of intentionality. As we have mentioned above, the new Covenant requires a great transformation of the heart, Teresa of Jesus, follower of Christ and very influenced by the spiritual movement of partisans of recollection, opens the third mansions with its first chapters which come ahead of time for several centuries, Rollo May´s humanistic Psychology from whom the idea told about the river, comes from.
Recollection prayer will help us to get to that water table level-which is hidden and which rules our conscious or unconscious acts-to purify them and do them in accordance with Christ.
Does the deeper dimension of intentionality of our acts agree with the way of life proposed by our lord Jesus Christ? Saint Teresa of Jesus notices the double life led by many Christians, the difference between intention and deeper dimension of intentionality, and she tries to bring it to light, to liberate the person from these ties which would prevent from making any progress in spiritual life. And above all, it would prevent the person to enjoy mystic life about to open in the fourth mansions. That is, a life from the love of God.
A detailed reading of first and second chapter in the third mansion will reveal the self-delusion of those who believe they are good Christians. An indeed, they are, at least they try it hard. Although they lack something to get to life´s groundwater level.
We are going to stop in second chapter. It starts saying that the Lord tests us,
“His Majesty has sent them tests which have been by no means exacting and they have become so restless and depressed in spirit that they have exasperated me” ( Interior Castle 3.2.1).
Jesus wants to know if all the changes we are experiencing in our lives reach really deep or just superficial. We have several times repeated that there is not spiritual life without any transformation of the person or without any action good for others.
She gives several examples. The first one is about a rich man, without any children, who pretending to help the poor ones, He keeps on growing rich (Interior Castle 3.2.4).Teresa doesn´t approve of his decision, it will be better look for God´s will and be ready to leave everything for Him. His expressed intention seems good, and He looks for a subterfuge to keep on growing rich. Teresa discovers the falseness of his deep intentions and reminds him that following Christ implies to follow Jesus´ advice on poverty. The second case is similar, someone who has all kinds of things and keeps accruing wealth, “strives after more and more (…) he need not be afraid that he will ever ascend to the Mansions which are nearest the King”. (Interior Castle 3.2.4).
The third example is about those people who don´t accept being badly spoken of behind their back, or their “honour” is a bit questioned. This attitude is not like Christ´s -to Whom they want to follow- sufferings.
As we can see, our life compared to Jesus´s life through recollection prayer is teaching us to live. We either learn from Him and apply this to our life, or we may fall into a superficial Christianity which doesn´t change our heart.
To follow Jesus Christ in this spiritual itinerary is very demanding. If we have decided to follow Him, we have to deeply imitate and follow Him. We can neither live third mansions if we don´t accept that our model ended up naked in a cross, insulted, slandered and tortured till death. Falsehood and what people think, can´t sunk us. Teresa´s tip is as simple as demanding,
“From these you will find out “if you are really detached from the things you have abandoned”, ”if you have obtained the mastery over your passions. ”Try to practise the virtues, and make a complete surrender of our wills to God and order our lives as His Majesty ordains: let us desire that not our wills, but His will, be done” (Interior Castle 3.2.6).
Teresa suggests to lose our fears and make as much effort as we can with lots of humility. I attach great importance to the following quotation:
“If we act thus, this state is a most excellent one, but otherwise we shall spend our whole lives in it and suffer a thousand troubles and miseries. Without complete self-renunciation, the state is very arduous and oppressive, because, as we go along, we are labouring under the burden of our miserable nature, which is like a great load of earth and has not to be borne by those who reach the later Mansions.” (Interior Castle 3.2.9).
I have also met people whose spiritual life is stuck due to wrong learning during their childhood. As I learned from Eric Berne (creator of transactional psychology) our childhood leaves a mark on our lives; in our first five or six years we get a fixed personality which unless we change it-it will last forever.
It is said that its structure is similar to one of the tales we learnt during childhood. Let´s imagine we have learnt to see life from a negative point of view and at the end we identify ourselves with the ugly duckling. I am an ugly duckling and when I am fifty years old I will still be an ugly duckling, if I don´t solve it. I see dragons and ghosts everywhere. I have made up a negative picture of myself and this fact is still happening on and on, year after year. To change our mind is not easy. Our relationship with others and the growth of our self-esteem can help a lot; maybe a firm decision to change of picture and create a more positive one of ourselves.
To finish up: to follow Christ is not a psychological therapy, although it may sometimes have certain connections as we are human beings with body and soul. The key thing in Christianity is to follow Jesus Christ. Can we from the fact of following Christ, change up our mind and be happier?
The answer to the question is convincing: Yes, we can.
That is the mystic world we can find in the fourth mansion. To live the mystery of life (= mysticism), it is to live from the love of God. And Love conquers all.