Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
Let´s keep on working on decoding the third mansion by giving a short explanation of Teresa´s favourite text from the Gospel included in this third mansion, the verses devoted to the rich man in Matthew 19:16-22, quoted in The Interior Castle 3.1.6-7. We will often come back to meditate this passage, till we have assimilated all its richness into our life.
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked:
-‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’
Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’
-‘Which ones?’ he enquired.
-“You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,” and “love your neighbour as yourself.”
-‘All these I have kept,’ ‘What do I still lack?’
-‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
First thing to remark is that in the third mansions we keep on practising vocal prayer and meditation prayer, by often training some learning in our recollection. Little by little we will add recollection to the meditation of the Word of God which, at this point, has become common practice in our lives: “For in the Prayer of Recollection it is unnecessary to abandon meditation and the activities of the understanding.” (Interior Castle 4.3.8) (She mentions this on the fourth mansion by mistake.)
Following Church´s tradition Teresa understands that there are two ways to be a Christian, one by keeping the commandments and the other one for those who feel called to be friends of Jesus Christ and devote themselves to follow Him as perfectly as possible. She takes from granted that those who have reached to this point in spiritual life, want to follow Jesus Christ flawlessly. However, similar to the previous Church tradition she gains access to through the Carthusians, poverty is not mainly referred to its material aspect, the fact of selling literally all the wealth and give it away to the poor, but in some other sense, the self-giving of our whole being to Christ, that is, surrender of the self. What is true is that this won´t happen all of a sudden, we will be given time and our freedom will always be respected. But there is a radical level of demand: “(…) but if the Lord is to take complete possession of the soul more than that is necessary.”(Interior Castle 3.1.6).
The words which best explains it and is in the tradition is: “detachment“ and “abandonment of everything”(The Interior Castle 3.1.8);“He serves me greatly; but the great thing is to follow Me stripped of everything, as I was on the Cross”(Relations 64);“when I betook myself to prayer again and looked at Christ hanging poor and naked upon the Cross, I felt I could not bear to be rich” (Life 35.3);“From these you will find out if you are really detached from the things you have abandoned” (…)“and discover if you have obtained the mastery over your passions.”(The Interior Castle 3.2.6)
The key is in not trying to achieve the donation of the self in one go, but in the resolute determination once and again of doing the will of God. It is the wish to follow God´s will in our life, which will help us to move forward in our spiritual life. Even better if we accompany it with little work which shows us to be true the decision taken. So first thing to hand over is our determination, or our decision to mean to follow Jesus: “Yet do not suppose God has any need of our works; what He needs is the resoluteness of our will.” (The Interior Castle 3.1.7)
In conclusion, in the third mansion we truly opt for being friends of Christ and follow him. And as in Teresa´s understanding, love comes from determination of will, in this moment deep friendship and love is born.
There is another thing to hand over immediately- it will be explained next day-which is everyone´s misery, the result of humility which enables us to reach up to the most obscure folds of our self-being.
(Recollection. Third Mansion. Photo, Pexels.com, Michael Burrows
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