Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
To understand the mystic path, the best thing is to remember our experiences of human love, and particularly, when someone has loved us with gratuitous love. Mysticism consists in living the mystery of life with Jesus Christ, from the love He gives us. If someone among the people who are reading this post remembers having lived, no matter its degree, the love received by God, he/she has then been in the mystic path. Teresa of Jesus tells us that many Christians enter into the fourth mansion and for different reasons-which will be seen- but they may not gain access to the fifth mansion. Let´s see the degrees of intensity of this affection received which can change our life. Jesus Christ´s prayer of His presence, infused recollection prayer, prayer of quiet and prayer of simple union. Let´s start by the first one. To live in the presence of God (Interior Castle 4.3.5 and Relations 5.25) The step forward we are going to take thanks to divine initiative usually comes quite after some time, even years, of having been practising the explained prayers in previous mansions. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit runs the souls as He wishes most desirable, it may happen at any moment, if the person seeks an approach to God. Lots of encouragement to all the readers to practise these kinds of prayers, no matter the spiritual situation they are in.
In the fourth mansion, she gives us a piece of advice: “The Lord wishes us rather to make requests of Him and to remember that we are in His presence, for He knows what is fitting for us.” (The Interior Castle 4.3.5)
The first result once in the mystic path is again quoted in Relations (or Relationships).Relationship 5 explains the degrees of prayers written one year before writing The Inner Castle (1576) That´s why it is considered very close to The Inner Castle´s way of thinking. When the Lord grants her this gift:“I remember another way of prayer which I had before the one I mentioned first, — namely, a presence of God, which is not a vision at all. It seems that any one, if he recommends him- self to His Majesty, even if he only prays vocally, finds Him”(Relations 5.25). In the list of degrees of prayer in her book Relations, we are surprised to find the presence of God inside the supernatural world, that is, of mysticism. In other simple words, it is enough to ask Jesus Christ to be in His presence to-if the grants it-be into mysticism. No doubt that we are in the supernatural world, that is, of the mystic world as she has mentioned at the beginning of her writing in Relations 5.2. She says to the addressee of her text: “I think it will please you, my father, if I begin by discussing that which is at the root of supernatural things”. We are facing the story of a personal relationship, between the God of Jesus and us, similar to any human relationship. It happens through time and needs approach and presence. We said (see “Brief introduction of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (I)”) that in the Old Testament there is a permanent approach from God to the human being from the cloud where He lives at the beginning to the Mount Sinai. Thanks to Moses the stone tablets were moved down from the mount and set up outside the camp at a distance from the camp, during the itinerary of its people through the desert, “The Tent of Meeting”. Then in the Book of Numbers, The Tent of Meeting and the Ark of the Covenant are placed among their people. Later on David and his son built a Temple in Jerusalem when God´s people were already settled in the Promised Land. The Samaritans split up and found another place to meet the Lord in Mount Gerizim. With the arrival of Christ to the world, He became the Temple; there won´t be any worship in one temple or another, there will be worship in Spirit and Truth. For the incarnation and resurrection of Christ any person receives in some way Christ´s benefits, may they be Christians or not. Due to baptism, all Christians become a Temple of God. That´s why, the partisans of recollection, masters of Teresa in the 16th century, and followers of Saint Augustin, seek God within human soul. Whether the person may be conscious or not, the sacredness of the human person is guaranteed by the image and likeness of God and by the fact of being the Trinity´s temple. The human being can be what he is by definition if he follows a process to meet the One who seeks us from the very beginning and comes to encounter us as the father of the prodigal son. In Christian religion, Jesus of Nazareth gathers two commandments which were in separated books of The Old Testament, love to God and love to our neighbours and upgrades them to supreme category. In the fifth mansion we will be told that mystic life is none other than obey- with the most ultimate perfection we can- both commandments. They are both so linked that one addresses to the other one and vice versa. Our neighbour is our close one (in Spanish neighbour and close, have the same root) and any human being is a sculpture or picture created and brought up (In Spanish created and brought up, have the same root) in Jesus Christ. We know the content of the last judgement, which will be about our own behaviour with our neighbours, and especially of the ones in need (see Mathew 25). We are going into the world of The Song of Songs and of the gospel according to Saint John in the image of The Good Shepherd with Teresa. A story of two lovers who seek each other and meet (Song of Songs); the world The Good Shepherd that with His whistles calls us (Saint John 10) and on the sixth mansion He will call with words, raptures, imagined or intellectual visions, dark nights, etc.Teresa set out to meet Christ even from childhood seeking that God who seeks us beforehand, as the gospel according to Saint Luke tells us. Let´s copy some texts to learn its process. “I used to try to think of Jesus Christ, our Good and our Lord, as present within me, and it was in this way that I prayed. If I thought about any incident in His life, I would imagine it inwardly, though I liked principally to read good books, and this constituted the whole of my recreation. For God had not given me talents for reasoning with the understanding or for making good use of the imagination: my imagination is so poor that, even when I thought about the Lord’s Humanity, or tried to imagine it to myself, as I was in the habit of doing, I never succeeded.” (Life 4.7) “For, although we are always in the presence of God, it seems to me that those who practise prayer are specially so, because they can see all the time that He is looking at them; whereas others may be in God’s presence for several days without ever remembering that He can see them.” (Life 8.2). “Traer dentro de sí” (old Spanish) means “representar” (represent/make pictures of), that is, “hacer presente” (make it present) become aware of being with Him:“My method of prayer was this. As I could not reason with my mind, I would try to make pictures of Christ inwardly; and I used to think I felt better when I dwelt on those parts of His life when He was most often alone. It seemed to me that His being alone and afflicted, like a person in need, made it possible for me to approach Him. I had many simple thoughts of this kind.” (Life 9.4). The best places of “making pictures of Christ inwardly” when He was alone, were: Jesus tied to the column and the prayer in the Mount of Olives. She would remain at His feet, imitating the pictures where Mary Magdalene used to be painted close to Jesus. This habit Teresa used to practise since she was a child, and we learnt in meditation prayer, leads her to a special experience in an important text to be able to practise this kind of prayer: “I used sometimes, as I have said, to experience in an elementary form, and very fleetingly, what I shall now describe. When picturing Christ in the way I have mentioned, and sometimes even when reading, I used unexpectedly to experience a consciousness of the presence of God, of such a kind that I could not possibly doubt that He was within me or that I was wholly engulfed in Him.” (Life 10.1). “The soul can picture itself in the presence of Christ, and accustom itself to become enkindled with great love for His sacred Humanity and to have Him ever with it and speak with Him, ask Him for the things it has need of, make complaints to Him of its trials, rejoice with Him in its joys and yet never allow its joys to make it forgetful of Him. It has no need to think out set prayers but can use just such words as suit its desires and needs.” (The Life 12.2). This Jesus Christ who loves us, is approaching to the innermost being of the person. We ask Him in prayer to come very close to love us. It doesn´t matter how little may we have experienced Him, we have already entered the fourth mansion. Other approaches will come in the fourth mansion, when in the prayer of quiet we will truly experience His unconditional love.