You are indeed holding what is a masterpiece of spiritual literature. This work by Teresa of Avila has long been considered a monumental achievement, particularly given the trends, conditions of the surrounding under, which it was written, coupled with her own ailments during her life time.
From Way of Perfection to this effort is around 14 years, yet the maturity and depth is remarkable. This is an essential work for all who endeavor to seek unity with God.
In this treatise, she moves quickly through the first few mansion, while glossing over and previous issues already addresses in her “Way of Perfection.” Herein she moves towards the last few mansion where true advancement begins and recollection turns into meditative prayer leading into unification.
Teresa’s initial intent was to provided for her fellow sisters, it has since then blossomed into a bountiful harvest for those who truly choose to follow her sound advice and follow these steps. This work has survived numerous spiritual phases simply because it is real, it is true and it works.
For all who embark upon their spiritual quest for unification with God, this is a must guide.
This has been translated by the Benedictines of Stanbrook.
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Let us imagine, as I said, that there are many rooms in this castle, some of which are above, some below, others on either side; and in the center, in the very midst of them all, is the principal chamber in which God and the soul hold their most secret intercourse. 7 Think over this comparison very carefully; may God grant that it enlightens you about the different kinds of graces He is pleased to bestow upon the soul. No one can know all about them, much less a person as ignorant as I am. The knowledge that such things are possible will console you greatly should our Lord ever grant you any of these favors; for people themselves, who are deprived of them can then at least praise Him for His great goodness in bestowing them on others. The thought of heaven and the happiness of the saints does us no harm, but cheers and urges us to win this joy for ourselves, nor will it injure us to know that during this exile God can communicate Himself to us loathsome worms; it will instead make us love Him for such immense goodness and infinite mercy.
The Spread of the Benedictine Rule
It is generally held that Benedict had no premonition of the vast historical importance of his system; and that he aspired to nothing beyond the salvation of his own soul and those of his brethren.
Nevertheless, the rule spread with wonderful speed. In every rich valley arose a Benedictine abbey. Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, France, and Spain adopted his rule. Princes, moved by various motives, hastened to bestow grants of land on the tireless missionary who, being undeterred by the wildness of the forest and the fierceness of the barbarian, settled in the remotest regions. In the various societies of the Benedictines, there have been thirty-seven thousand monasteries and one hundred and fifty thousand abbots. For the space of two hundred and thirty-nine years, the Benedictines governed the church by forty-eight popes chosen from their order. They boast of two hundred cardinals, seven thousand archbishops, fifteen thousand bishops, and four thousand saints. The astonishing assertion is also made that no less than twenty emperors and forty-seven kings resigned their crowns to become Benedictine monks. Their convents claim ten empresses and fifty queens. Many of these earthly rulers retired to the seclusion of the monastery because their hopes had been crushed by political defeat, or their consciences smitten by reason of crime or other sins. Some were powerfully attracted by the heroic element of monastic life, and these therefore spurned the luxuries and emoluments of royalty, in order by personal sacrifice to achieve spiritual domination in this life, and to render their future salvation certain. Yet, whatever the motive that drew queens and princes to the monastic order, the retirement of such large numbers of the nobility indicates the influence of a religious system, which could cope so successfully with the attractions of the palace and the natural passion for political dominion.