The Seven Mansions of the Interior Castle

A Summary

                Teresa's Version                                          La Ermita's Version

Outside the Castle

Those who are paralyzed and crippled by sin.

Those who are broken hearted, and

 those who are spiritually and emotionally

 bound by evil.

Inside the Castle - The Seven Mansions

1.  In this mansion are those of good desires, those who pray.  However, they are still absorbed primarily in their possessions, honors and business affairs.

1.Having arrived at the moment of complete inner destitution and nothingness, the person collapses in abandonment at the inner door to the true Self (Jung's concept).  The door opens, and the true Self carries in the person to be washed and dressed anew.  Here there is a refreshing new inner life that is experienced. Now the person knows that he/she is loved by the Self and the Lord.

2.  In this mansion are those who are searching for something deeper.  They read the Bible, spiritual books, seek good friendships, and find themselves struggling against evil inclinations.

2.After having been refreshed, the person is given a room in which to dwell in the inner Self.  Here, there is a peace that had never been experienced.  But after things have settled, the person finds him/herself restless, desiring to return to the street to live.  The attraction is strong, but stronger is the desire to leave it all behind and move on inward searching for its Self and its God.

3.  This mansion belongs to those who do not desire to sin, even in the smallest way.  They practice mortification and penance.  They attend retreats and days of recollection.  They are charitable to others.  They maintain all things in their life in a balance.  Yet, there still is a desire to search for something deeper.

3.  Having made the decision to leave all behind, ones old friends and activities, the person is baptized in the Holy Spirit.  The experience is like moving into paradise.  The person loves to pray and finds themselves singing the praises of the Lord all day.  Being filled with the Gifts of the Spirit, they experience new powers and work wonders never dreamed of.  They are gloriously happy and live in a new environment with new friends.

4.  In the fourth mansion belong those who are experiencing infused prayer, also called the prayer of quiet.  Their prayer is passive.  It is peaceful.  The movement is inward towards the Self where eventually it will meet its Lord.  The most important virtue here is love.

4.  Having left behind the emotional excitement of the new life in the third mansion, the person is lead into contemplation with the passive use of the imagination.  During this time Jesus comes to the person in their imagination where a relationship of personal love grows towards great depths of intimacy.  The person becomes inwardly quiet and peaceful, absorbed in love, love within and without.  Nothing else is important.

5.  Here the person begins the prayer of union in which all the faculties of the soul are suspended.  Teresa says it is like God becomes the cocoon in which the person dies.  It is a period of darkness, but yet the soul is certain beyond doubt that it is with and in the Lord.  During this period the soul grows more in love of neighbor, humility and faithfulness to prayer and the Lord.

5.  The person enters this mansion when the passive use of the imagination ceases.  The person begins to dwell in a darkness of a 'feeling' faith, an 'awareness' faith. The person feels the warmth, gentleness and love of the  darkness,  characteristics that assure the person of the Beloved's presence.  All is filled with love.  The assurance that he/she is with and in the Lord beyond all doubt exists in the humility, love for others and faithfulness to prayer that are signs of continued growth in virtues unseen by the person.

6.  Here Teresa speaks of spiritual betrothal.  It takes place during a rapture, when the soul is drawn out of its senses.  It is a time of special 'secret' teaching between the soul and its Beloved who appears to the soul.  Great courage is needed to take this step because the soul will be purified even more, not only through human trials and sufferings, but also through contact with the human person of Jesus.  The results of this mansion are: a deep knowledge of God and self, humility, rejection of all earthly things that are not needed to promote love of the Beloved, and a joy so great that the soul cannot resist shouting it from the housetops.

6.  This is the mansion of spiritual betrothal.  It takes place, as Teresa says, when the person is drawn out of itself by a rapture.  The person also receives special teachings and revelations that fit its inner needs.  The results of these events create within the person intimate knowledge of each person of the Trinity, a deep self awareness that is rooted in humility, a rejection of all earthly things that are not necessary to the continuance of this great love relationship, and finally, a joy that is so powerful that one cannot resist the urge to shout it to the whole world so that all can know how lovable and wonderful each person of the Trinity is.  However, it is this very joy that brings further purification to the soul, many trials and tribulations, physical, emotional and spiritual, leading the person almost to the brink of despair.  Only by the strength of the love already experienced is the person capable of surviving such suffering.

7.  The mansion of spiritual marriage.  When the person is ready for spiritual marriage, the Lord removes the scales from their eyes and they see and understand how beautiful they have been made by the Lord.  Thus, fortified, they are united in marital love deep within the Self.  They become one, and no longer fall into ecstasy.  All mystical experiences are con-natural.  It is not so much now what they do, but with the love union that they do it in.

7.  The mansion of spiritual marriage.  The person for a long time has not been able to see and know what the Beloved has been doing inside the self, preparing him/her for the marital embrace.  It has been a life of darkness.  But when he/she is ready, the scales are removed, as Teresa says, and the person sees for the first time how beautiful he/she is.  Then, for the men, Sophia, the Holy Spirit, reveals Herself and comes to take her spouse unto herself.  They become one.  For the women, it is Jesus who removes the scales allowing her to see herself in her beauty.  Then, Jesus takes his bride unto himself in a marital union of love.  Now, love reigns supreme.  Being one completely, all he/she does is done in and with the Beloved.

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References: For St. Teresa of Avila's version:
St. Teresa of Avila, Vol. II, translated by Orilio Rodriguez
and Kieran Kavanaugh,  ICS Publications, Washington,
DC, 1980, pgs. 270-278.