Life Matters – 2 – Entering the Interior Castle
Entering the Interior Castle
In “The Interior Caste,” St. Teresa of Jesus encourages the reader to enter within themself and to roam through these mansions of their own soul. How can I do this? How can I enter within myself and wander around my soul?
Teresa writes, As far as I can understand, the door of entry into this castle is prayer and consideration. How can prayer and consideration be a door into my soul? What does she mean by prayer, and what does she mean by consideration?
She has already given her famous definition of prayer: Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends: it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. Elsewhere she also writes: If, while I am speaking with God, I have a clear realization and full consciousness that I am doing so, and if this is more real to me than the words I am uttering, then I am combining mental and vocal prayer. For Teresa, prayer is a conversation, an exchange with God. I am speaking to Him and listening to Him speak to me.
Also, what does she mean by consideration, and why do the two together make a doorway into one’s soul? For Teresa, prayer and consideration are inseparable: As far as I can understand, the door of entry into this castle is prayer and meditation: I do not say mental prayer rather than vocal, for, if it is prayer at all, it must be accompanied by meditation. If a person does not think Whom he is addressing, and what he is asking for, and who it is that is asking and of Whom he is asking it, I do not consider that he is praying at all even though he be constantly moving his lips. True, it is sometimes possible to pray without paying heed to these things, but that is only because they have been thought about previously. So in order to enter into the interior castle of my soul, I must speak to God and think about what I am saying when I do so.
When I pray, who is it that I am addressing? At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked His disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is? He was given various answers in reply: John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah. Then He asked them, But who do you say that I am? This is the question that He asks each of His disciples, including you and me. We can give Peter’s answer, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. But that is Peter’s answer, the answer the Father gave to Peter. What is my answer? Who do I say that He is? And why do I pray to Him? What do I ask Him? What do I hope from Him? These are some of the questions that I must ask myself, and it is this very asking which opens the door to my interior castle.