Dear Carmelite Sisters, I feel like I am stuck in somewhere in mansion one or two. Is this normal? Where do most people get stuck in the journey through the mansions and is there any common way you can suggest that we get unstuck? Maybe I am just impatient. I feel like I should be growing but I am not.
In our first post in this two part series we talked about a few of the reasons we get stuck and touched on the key issues we often face in the first three mansions. In this post, we will provide a little summary of the first three mansions through a brief examination of conscience may help to determine just where you “feel stuck”. Perhaps the following will be of some help.
Since one enters the Castle through the gate of prayer the person entering the first mansion already feels drawn to prayer. Teresa does not talk much about prayer in the first three mansions but she does talk about what may help or hinder prayer.
- How generous are you in the development of your prayer life?
- Are you growing in the poverty of self-knowledge which in turn helps you to know God better?
- What for you are occasions of sin and what determined means do you take to avoid them?
- How frequently do you avail yourself of the sacrament of confession?
- How are you strengthening the practice of virtue?
- Is your prayer becoming more simplified?
- Are you growing in a healthy concept of perfection?
- Do you quiet your own voice in order to discern the gentle voice of God?
- Do you seek guidance in learning to conform your will to God’s?
In the third mansion we see that true conformity with God’s Will is reached only when our “false gods” (centers of our lives) die and integration takes place not only in relation among these centers, but new life emerges as a result. “Unless the seed falls into the ground and dies…”
- Are you desirous not to offend God even by venial sin?
- Do you eagerly perform penance?
- Do you spend quality time in prayer?
- Do you use your time well?
- Is your life orderly?
- Do you practice works of charity?
Teresa speaks of seven mansions or main rooms. But there are rooms within each mansion. Our movement within these “rooms” is fluid not static. Although we may spend more time in one room than in another we tend to move in and out and may have brief glimpses of rooms to come, if the Lord chooses.
This whole process is about change or transformation. Change can take place only through our generosity and willingness to surrender. In the example of our butterfly above there are four main life cycles: 1) the egg or beginning stage; 2) the caterpillar or growth stage; 3) the chrysalis or transformation stage; and 4) the adult or perfected stage. We might compare the growth stage here of the caterpillar to the first three mansions. Without this growth the transformation might never take place and thus perfection would be stunted.
This is all a preparation for what lies beyond the first three mansions which is God’s to give not ours to produce.
PS: To learn more about the Carmelite Sisters visit our web site: www.carmelitesistersocd.com and for more information please contact the sisters at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 626-289-1353 Ext. 246, 920 East Alhambra Road, Alhambra, California 91801.
Art for this post on getting unstuck in spiritual growth: Modified detail of Patio interior del castillo de Manzanares el Real (Madrid) (Interior Patio of Manzaneres el Real Castle Madrid), photographed by Eleagnus~commonswiki, 9-February-2005, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported, Wikimedia Commons.