When it comes down to prayer, I can freely admit that I am still a beginner, in fact, I feel like I’m in the Second Mansion. There is so much that I need to learn, and grow and gain! There is never a dull moment with me in my home—that’s for sure.
I am currently reading Fire Within, and it’s like an explanation of Saint Teresa of Avila Interior Castle, but he also talks about Saint John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul. Now granted, these books are on my reading list, but I am really thankful for Fr. Thomas Dubay writings and insight regarding these two great mystics.
A look at the second mansion
As he breaks down the Interior Castle, and Saint Teresa many mansions, I cannot help but feel that I am currently in the second one. As he explains, “They are still engaged in worldly pastimes, half giving them up and half clinging to them.”¹ This is why I feel like I’m in the second mansion.
There are times that a thought runs through my mind where I would have the urge to read a book I once enjoyed in my pastime, but when given the opportunity to read it, I read something spiritual instead. Almost like:
“The man or woman in the second mansions is a battleground where the conflict between the world and the divine call is being waged.”²
In a way, it’s almost comical. I’m all gun-ho about a certain book or movie, and when given the opportunity to watch or read it, the spirit is like, Oh no you don’t! Read this instead. Watch this instead. You’ll thank me later. It’s a battle between my fleshly desires and will and my guardian angel who has his job cut out for him!
Also, who I surround myself with makes a huge difference, in my life and online interactions. People who are geared towards growth are those whom I am drawn to, not so much that focus on the petty issues that happen day to day.
Fr. Thomas Dubay remind us:
“St. Teresa’s first bit of advice concerns companionship: the soul should avoid a close association with ‘evil’ and mediocre people and make it a point to mix with the good, that is, not only with those in the early mansions but also with those who have advanced into the mansions “nearer the center”, where the King is. “³
These days, so many issues has come up in the news, but to only focus as if that’s the main issue is where I think one of the problem lies. If we were all striving to be closer to God, and stop chasing worldly things, than I wonder if any of these things will be happening?
The surest sign of genuine prayer is the steady deepening of faith, hope, love, humility, patience, purity and all the other virtues. -Fr. Thomas Dubay
Growth in Prayer does come at a price
In a way, I will always keep wondering many things. I will keep thinking about growth, and prayer life, and realize that while there are so many great Saints that had an awesome prayer life, and who were able to go further into the interior castle.
We are not unaware that these gains came at a great price to the Saint—physically, mentally, and even spiritually. Knowing that growth in prayer also mean suffering is the thought of suffering holding us back?
Theresa gives great advise to those of us who are in the Second Mansion.
- Watch our associations. As mentioned above, we should avoid close associations with those who are mediocre. Those who are not looking to grow in the spiritual life. Those who only focus on the problems of this world, and not so much concern about life thereafter. We should avoid those who are only about chasing worldly pleasure.
- Embrace the cross. They explain that resignation is not simply enough. We must have a willed welcome to hardship, and dryness in prayer.
- With all possibility, bring our will to the will of God. This of course will take many sacrifices and “dying to oneself” to accomplish this. Fr. Dubay and Saint Teresa of Avila reminds us of Jesus’ words, that it’s not those who say Lord Lord, who enter the kingdom but those who do the will of God.
- Failure is not a reason to lose heart. It is expected that we fall in the second mansion. We’re not perfect. When we do fall, we are to repent, and preserve in moving forward. We are not to dwell on our past mistakes and sins, but move forward, and have a fidelity to prayer.
One thing that I can always remember is that it’s not how long I’ve been praying for, and how “good at it I think I am” it’s my willingness to be open and what God wants to grant to me. He will give beginners who are completely open to Him so many gifts and insights. For others, it make take time to conform their will in order to be open to God’s gifts.
Have you read St. Teresa of Avila Interior Castle? Do you also feel like you’re in the Second Mansion? What are your thoughts on the advice that Teresa gives us?
¹.Dubay, Fr. Thomas (2009-12-17). Fire Within (Kindle Locations 1663-1664). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
²Dubay, Fr. Thomas (2009-12-17). Fire Within (Kindle Locations 1668-1669). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
³Dubay, Fr. Thomas (2009-12-17). Fire Within (Kindle Locations 1679-1681). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.