The Interior Castle
Publisher: TAN Books
Publication Date: 2011-03-01
The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila presents a remarkable description of the entire spiritual life from the first release from mortal sin into Sanctifying Grace through the Mystical Marriage of the soul with Christ as a journey through what she called The Interior Castle.
She sees the soul as a magnificent castle full of spacious and well-lit rooms or mansions each of which leads deeper into the heart of the castle to the seat of the King. However, St. Teresa laments that most people give all their attention to the outer wall of the castle the body ignoring the beauty of the soul within.
St. Teresa gives practical advice regarding the early struggles and the temptations to turn back which beset the beginner. She describes each of the seven mansions and urges us forward to love and serve the Divine Majesty, imparting her absolute conviction that progress toward God through prayer is worth vastly more than all the treasures of this earth.
St. Teresa of Avila was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun and author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time and the movement she initiated, later joined by Saint John of the Cross, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites, though neither she nor Saint John were alive when the two orders separated.
This book is for people who are fairly advanced in the spiritual life. It goes into detail on her metaphor, using different rooms in the mansions, and describing each. It's enlightening as to the possibility of the soul's ascent in the spiritual life.
St. Teresa is one of the premiere spiritual writers, but she can also be challenging to read. I would say that Interior Castle is a fairly advanced book. Several years back, I had opened up and started reading it, but I just couldn't push my way through, so I put it back on the shelf. In the mean time, I began reading and enjoying other spiritual writings, and began practicing what they put forth, to some extent. Then I came back to this book and it spoke to me in a special way. It was like I was reading the book for the first time. There's a certain discernment involved when it comes to to navigating through your progression of a spiritual reading. Put this book somewhere 10-20 books deep in your list, and you will enjoy it more.