Catholic Lessons on Prayer: St. Teresa (II of II) 

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) is one of the most important figures in Catholic spirituality, a true teacher of prayer. She described in her book The Interior Castle what prayer is like. She compared the soul to a castle with many rooms, and prayer is but the inward walking until we meet God in the inner chamber. The first three mansions are active prayer, but there is a moment when we sit still and God does the work for us, these are the next mansions. 

  1. Fourth mansion: There is a moment in prayer when we don’t do any work, it is God’s grace within who does it for us. We still move within, but it is through God’s favor. Don’t think much, love much! 
  1. Fifth mansion: In this mansion, our love for God and his for us is such that we promise to give ourselves to each other completely. This is called betrothal. And there is no other desire than to be with God in the final mansion. 
  1. Sixth mansion: The closer we come to God’s love, the more we grow in loving others. The more we pray, the more we love. We want to love and love. We feel closer to God, and we cannot wait to be with him. 
  1. Seventh mansion: There is, at the end, a marriage or divine union between God and the soul. Where we sing the poem with Teresa “I have surrendered and given my all, and the trade I have made is such that my Beloved is all for me, and I am all for my Beloved. 

St. Teresa explains: “Once you have learned how to enjoy this castle, you will always find rest, however painful your trials may be, in the hope of returning to your Lord, which no one can prevent. Although I have only mentioned seven mansions –she continues—, yet each one contains many more rooms, above, below, and around it, with fair gardens, fountains, and labyrinths, besides other things so delightful that you will wish to consume yourself in prayer…” 

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