Translated from the original by Ana Giménez
Some criteria to be mentioned before we start reading the first three mansions from the Interior Castle by Teresa.
We need to go back to her childhood to understand the meaning of her writings. To her father´s vast knowledge, we can add her mother´s passion for the books of chivalry and courtly love stories; soon her daughter -to her father´s annoyance- became fond of them, as well.
Stories of first loves and their development, their friendship, first meetings, first romances, difficulties…till the union in the “cave of love”; expression taken from Tristan and Isolde´s romance, which I believe was known by Teresa through different versions translated to the Romance language.
Teresa´s entire writings are a story of human love, completely devoted to God; a love story to the divine order. If to that we add the search of the models of saints and strong desire to do things, we have found the key to understand her. She finds her models in the The Golden Legend (Latin: Legenda aurea or Legenda sanctorum) by Jacobus de Varagine and on the great ideals which arouse in conversations with her brothers and friends.
Therefore, we shouldn´t be afraid to read her own books. Nothing better than the reading of her books. The best thing to do is to remember our own stories of love and heartbreak. Just the same, but with God.
Teresa, in my opinion, writes the same book several times: the book of her life, her experience, told several times addressed to different receivers and every time explained in greater depth.
To get into her world, I advise you to read the first 9 chapters of her book The Life. She tells us her story of salvation till her
religious conversion to maturity. She writes the way she talks. It seems as if she had been recorded. She approaches herself to the heart of the reader, her wish is to allure the souls /to cause souls to covet (“engolosinar”). She tries to awake the reader’s interest, she announces new and deep love adventures in following lines, till you are hooked. Her main area, where she develops her genius, are the mansions of union for love. In her first steps, she uses a range of readings and her own experience; in the mansions of love, from the fourth onwards, she goes far beyond her predecessors.
Read the first chapters of The Life and write your own story of salvation. Pay special attention to what is mainly positive rather than on negative matters, so as your story can be the book of “The mercies of God”, as she enjoyed naming it.
(To be continued)