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Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) | 538 comments In the fifth mansion, Teresa reiterates the importance of self-knowledge, surrendering to the will of God, loving God and neighbor, practicing humility, increasing virtue, abandoning self centeredness, giving up attachments to worldly things, practicing prayer and purification, and performing good works. She also warns us to stay vigilant and gives the example of the fall of Judas. This is also the mansion where she compares the soul to that of a silkworm, which transforms into a white butterfly.

In this section we learn about the Prayer of Union. She says that we are not asleep or awake, however the mind is asleep to things of the world. This prayer lasts a short time and the will surrenders without reservation. She states that the soul knows that God was there and the soul does not forget.

I think this idea of the soul not forgetting is beautiful. I also thought Teresa’s description of Christ’s sorrow (pg. 134 Mirabai Starr edition) was very moving:

“What kind of existence must he have suffered since absolutely everything was clear to him and he was continuously witnessing terrible offenses being committed against his Father?” She also says “Sorrow arises from looking upon a world that does not love God enough.”

The above quote reminds me of how important it is to pray for the conversion of souls.

Near the end of chapter four, Teresa gives us some very good advice (pg. 149, Starr):

“… strive to move forward on the spiritual path. If we make no progress, we should take a good look at ourselves.”


Matthew | 6 comments I do not want to derail the conversation so please disregard this comment for the better of the group if you deem necessary. The situation I am going to describe has been weighing on my heart for some time and I think prayer/discernment has helped but I would like to get your take on it since St. Teresa covered it a little bit in this 5th mansion.

My four-year-old (I know he is just a child but as a parent, this is gnawing at my responsibilities as his authority) has asked me a few times now if he could go up to heaven. We have talked about heaven quite a bit and I have described to him an eternal life of love and communion not only with our Creator but with fellow humans. He asks me this question and I want to explain to him that God has blessed us with time on this earth and that I would miss him terribly if he were to die and go to heaven.

What a great insight into helping me with the fear of death and what that surmounts to. He has no fear. If I try to deter him from wanting to go to heaven right now but is that going to feed into his want of earthly things instead of a relationship with his Lord? I don't have a concern that he would take his own life and I think when he gets older, it would be a good time to bring that up. It is a great question to bring up and one I need help answering in a way that is appropriate to a four-year-old.

I understand that I should not and cannot describe and detail this whole conversation to someone so young. But I need help with an introduction into this mindset that St. Teresa talks about:

"But note very carefully, daughters, that the silkworm has of necessity to die; and it is this which will cost you most; for death comes more easily when one can see oneself living a new life, whereas our duty now is to continue living this present life, and yet to die of our own free will. I confess to you that we shall find this much harder, but it is of the greatest value and the reward will be greater too if you gain the victory. But you must not doubt the possibility of this true union with the will of God. This is the union which I have desired all my life; it is for this that I continually beseech Our Lord; it is this which is the most genuine and the safest."

What is a good way to introduce to a young child (I would benefit from this idea in my faith journey as well to be honest) the idea of living this present life, and yet to die of our own free will?

How do I start the manifestation of the idea that to be a vessel of God's will is what will bring us true happiness in this world?


Manny (virmarl) | 3892 comments Mod
There are a few sections in the Fifth Mansion that are of note. In the second paragraph of the first chapter, she says:

“So I must say here that, though all of us who wear this sacred habit of Carmel are called to prayer and contemplation -- because that was the first principle of our Order and because we are descendent upon the line of those holy Fathers of ours from Mount Carmel who sought this treasure, this precious pearl of which we speak, in such great solitude and with such contempt for the world -- few of us prepare ourselves for the Lord to reveal it to us. As far as externals are concerned, we are on the right road to attaining the essential virtues; but we shall need to do a very great deal before we can attain to this higher state and we must on no account be careless. So let us pause here, my sisters, and beg the Lord that, since to some extent it is possible for us to enjoy Heaven upon earth, He will grant us His help so that it will not be our fault if we miss anything may He also show us the road and give strength to our souls so that we may dig until we find this hidden treasure, since it is quite true that we have it within ourselves. This I should like to explain if the Lord is pleased to give me the knowledge.”

So since God graces those to enter beyond the fourth mansion, it still will require a lot of work to go beyond, and there is still the danger that one might regress. The soul in the fifth mansion goes beyond the dream-like state of the fourth:

“Do not think it is a state, like the last, in which we dream; I say "dream", because the soul seems to be, as it were, drowsy, so that it neither seems asleep nor feels awake. Here we are all asleep, and fast asleep, to the things of the world, and to ourselves (in fact, for the short time that the condition lasts, the soul is without consciousness and has no power to think, even though it may desire to do so). There is no need now for it to devise any method of suspending the thought. Even in loving, if it is able to love, it cannot understand how or what it is that it loves, nor what it would desire; in fact, it has completely died to the world so that it may live more fully in God. This is a delectable death, a snatching of the soul from all the activities which it can perform while it is in the body; a death full of delight, for, in order to come closer to God, the soul appears to have withdrawn so far from the body that I do not know if it has still life enough to be able to breathe. I have just been thinking about this and I believe it has not; or at least, if it still breathes, it does so without realizing it. The mind would like to occupy itself wholly in understanding something of what it feels, and, as it has not the strength to do this, it becomes so dumbfounded that, even if any consciousness remains to it, neither hands nor feet can move; as we commonly say of a person who has fallen into a swoon, it might be taken for dead. Oh, the secrets of God! I should never weary of trying to describe them to you, if I thought I could do so successfully.”

And then at the end of the chapter she makes one of her most important points of all:

“I recall that, as you have heard, the Bride in the Songs says: "The King brought me" (or "put me", I think the words are) "into the cellar of wine." It does not say that she went. It also says that she was wandering about in all directions seeking her Beloved. This, as I understand it, is the cellar where the Lord is pleased to put us, when He wills and as He wills. But we cannot enter by any efforts of our own; His Majesty must put us right into the centre of our soul, and must enter there Himself; and, in order that He may the better show us His wonders, it is His pleasure that our will, which has entirely surrendered itself to Him, should have no part in this. Nor does He desire the door of the faculties and senses, which are all asleep, to be opened to Him; He will come into the centre of the soul without using a door, as He did when He came in to His disciples, and said Pax vobis, and when He left the sepulchre without removing the stone. Later on you will see how it is His Majesty's will that the soul should have fruition of Him in its very centre, but you will be able to realize that in the last Mansion much better than here.”

So Christ in this state puts one in the center of the soul, and, even more importantly, one finds Christ there. Christ has entered the center of our soul, and we are there with Him.


Manny (virmarl) | 3892 comments Mod
Matthew wrote: "I do not want to derail the conversation so please disregard this comment for the better of the group if you deem necessary. The situation I am going to describe has been weighing on my heart for s...How do I start the manifestation of the idea that to be a vessel of God's will is what will bring us true happiness in this world? "
I have a six year old Matthew. Coincidentally his name is Matthew. At four I found it to be a bit much to get overly theological with my son. I explained that God made all and that there was a heaven for good people and I brought him to church with me every Sunday. Little by little they start absorbing our Catholicism. I also send him to Catholic school, which fills in where I can't.


Manny (virmarl) | 3892 comments Mod
Matthew mentioned the silkworm metaphor that’s in the fifth mansion. There is one more thing that should be highlighted here. In the fourth chapter St. Theresa explains how the Prayer of Union will lead to the spiritual marriage:

“I want to explain to you still further what I think this Prayer of Union is; and I will make a comparison as well as my wit will allow. Afterwards we will say more about this little butterfly, which never rests -- though it is always fruitful in doing good to itself and to other souls -- because it has not yet found true repose. You will often have heard that God betrothes Himself to souls spiritually. Blessed be His mercy, which is pleased so to humble itself! I am only making a rough comparison, but I can find no other which will better explain what I am trying to say than the Sacrament of Matrimony. The two things work differently, for in this matter which we are treating there is nothing that is not spiritual: corporeal union is quite another thing and the spiritual joys and consolations given by the Lord are a thousand leagues removed from those experienced in marriage. It is all a union of love with love, and its operations are entirely pure, and so delicate and gentle that there is no way of describing them; but the Lord can make the soul very deeply conscious of them.”

Marriage with God is not original with St. Theresa. I know St. Catherine of Siena had a spiritual marriage with Christ, and somehow I seem to think I recall other saints claiming similar, though I’m not a hundred percent certain. It seems to be an extension of allegory of God’s love in the Song of Songs, the allegory being the physical love described represents spiritual love. With St. Catherine it was an actual marriage, with an invisible wedding ring. Do you think with St. Theresa it’s just metaphor? I can’t quite tell. She continues in the next paragraph to say the betrothal will occur later (I think it will be the seventh mansion)

“It seems to me that this union has not yet reached the point of spiritual betrothal, but is rather like what happens in our earthly life when two people are about to be betrothed. There is a discussion as to whether or no they are suited to each other and are both in love; and then they meet again so that they may learn to appreciate each other better. So it is here. The contract is already drawn up and the soul has been clearly given to understand the happiness of her lot and is determined to do all the will of her Spouse in every way in which she sees that she can give Him pleasure. His Majesty, Who will know quite well if this is the case, is pleased with the soul, so He grants her this mercy, desiring that she shall get to know Him better, and that, as we may say, they shall meet together, and He shall unite her with Himself. We can compare this kind of union to a short meeting of that nature because it is over in the very shortest time. All giving and taking have now come to an end and in a secret way the soul sees Who this Spouse is that she is to take. By means of the senses and faculties she could not understand in a thousand years what she understands in this way in the briefest space of time.”

I find it strange that she says “there is a discussion to see if they are suited for each other.” Who would tell God, I’m not suited for you? LOL. Very interesting.


message 6: by Susan Margaret (last edited Mar 10, 2016 10:02PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) | 538 comments Manny wrote: "..I find it strange that she says “there is a discussion to see if they are suited for each other.” Who would tell God, I’m not suited for you?"


I think Teresa's marriage is a spiritual one. I could be wrong, but when Teresa talks about the discussion as to whether she and God are suited to one another, perhaps God is discerning to see if she has made a commitment to do the will of God. And maybe Teresa also bases her suitability on that same criteria; Is she doing God's will? Is she worthy of betrothal? If she realizes she has not submitted to the will of God, she will know she is not suitable. The decision that God makes and the decision that Teresa makes is based on Teresa's suitability not God's.


Manny (virmarl) | 3892 comments Mod
Susan Margaret wrote: "Manny wrote: "..I find it strange that she says “there is a discussion to see if they are suited for each other.” Who would tell God, I’m not suited for you?"


I think Teresa's marriage is a spiri..The decision that God makes and the decision that Teresa makes is based on Teresa's suitability not God's. ."


Yes I understand that but would you tell God you weren't suited for Him...LOL I can't see anyone doing that.


Irene | 909 comments Maybe it might be hard to imagine anyone telling God that outright, but people do it by their actions all the time. Turning one's back on God or relegating God to a dusty corner of one's life, only to be taken out when a crisis hits, is the nonverbal equivalent.


Manny (virmarl) | 3892 comments Mod
Yes Irene. Though turning to God when a crises hits is still a good thing. Hopefully it will take. That sort of happened to me about twelve years ago.


Irene | 909 comments Absolutely. Sometimes God works through those things to get our attention and bring us home.


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