Editor's note:

“The Fifth Mansions are a time when we feel restless and consumed by desire for more of Him,” Mimi Dixon writes in her study guide for Teresa of Avila and the holiness tradition. 

Mimi and a good chunk of the rest of the Renovaré family are heading out to Boston next week for another gathering of our wonderful Renovaré Institute students. There, Mimi will teach us about Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila, Chris Hall will guide us through “swimming in the desert” with the Desert Fathers, Richard Foster and Nathan Foster will engage in conversations about the contemplative and holiness streams, and Carolyn Arends and Kai Nilsen will immerse us in the evangelical stream. It’s going to be a full week, and we can hardly wait!

But, why should we have all the fun with St. Teresa? Frankly, we were feeling a little too guilty about all the goodness that awaits us in Boston. So, today we invite you to share a coffee break with Teresa as she guides  us through the Fifth Mansions and the attendant favours from God from Interior Castle.

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Interior Castle

LET us now return to our little dove, and see something of what God gives her in this state. It must always be understood that she will try to advance in the service of Our Lord and in self-knowledge. If she does no more than receive this favour, and, as though she enjoyed complete security, begins to lead a careless life and stray from the road to Heaven—that is, from the Commandments—there will happen to her what happens to the creature that comes out of the silkworm, which leaves seed for the production of more silkworms and then dies for ever. I say it leaves seed because for my own part I believe it is God’s will that so great a favour should not be given in vain, and that if the soul that receives it does not profit by it others will do so. For, as the soul possesses these aforementioned desires and virtues, it will always profit other souls so long as it leads a good life, and from its own heat new heat will be transmitted to them. Even after losing this, it may still desire others to profit, and take pleasure in describing the favours given by God to those who love and serve Him.

I knew a person to whom this happened, and who, though having herself gone far astray was glad that others should profit by the favours God had shown her, she would describe the way of prayer to those who did not understand it, and she brought them very, very great profit. Later, the Lord gave her new light. It is true that she had not yet experienced the effects which have been mentioned. But how many are called by the Lord to apostleship, as Judas was, and enjoy communion with Him, or are called to be made kings, as Saul was, and afterwards, through their own fault, are lost! From this, sisters, we may deduce that, if we are to acquire increasing merit, and not, like Saul and Judas, to be lost, our only possible safety consists in obedience and in never swerving from the law of God; I am referring to those to whom He grants these favours, and in fact to all.

Despite all I have said, this Mansion seems to me a little obscure. There is a great deal to be gained by entering it, and those from whom the Lord withholds such supernatural gifts will do well to feel that they are not without hope; for true union can quite well be achieved, with the favour of Our Lord, if we endeavour to attain it by not following our own will but submitting it to whatever is the will of God. Oh, how many of us there are who say we do this and think we want nothing else, and would die for this truth, as I believe I have said! For I tell you, and I shall often repeat this, that when you have obtained this favour from the Lord, you need not strive for that other delectable union which has been described, for the most valuable thing about it is that it proceeds from this union which I am now describing; and we cannot attain to the heights I have spoken of if we are not sure that we have the union in which we resign our wills to the will of God.

Oh, how much to be desired is this union! Happy the soul that has attained to it, for it will live peacefully both in this life and in the next as well. Nothing that happens on earth will afflict it unless it finds itself in peril of losing God, or sees that He is offended—neither sickness nor poverty nor death, except when someone dies who was needed by the Church of God. For this soul sees clearly that He knows what He does better than it knows itself what it desires.

Now Underway: The 2018-19 Renovaré Book Club

How do we read for transformation, not just information? First, choose books that stir the soul and have an enduring quality. Then read with God and others at an unhurried pace, attentive to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach. The Renovaré Book Club is designed for transformative reading. It runs October 2018—May 2019.

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