CHAPTER 1 – THE FIRST MANSIONS
They are in a state of grace as they are called to enter. Only those who are in the state of grace can enter the castle for grace alone permits one to establish with God that exchange of friendship that is prayer and the spiritual life.
Grace is somewhat anemic though. They come with good intentions but are full of preoccupations. They only pray a few times a month.
The soul is still absorbed in worldly affairs, engulfed in worldly pleasures and puffed up with worldly honors and ambitions. So many reptiles get in with them that they are unable to appreciate the beauty of the castle or to find any peace within it.
It is noted that the light which comes from the palace occupied by the King hardly reaches these first Mansions at all. These rooms are to some extent darkened. The soul cannot enjoy the light because he is prevented from doing so by these wild beasts and animals, which force him to close his eyes to everything but themselves.
As the devil’s intentions are always very bad, he has many legions of evil spirits in each room to prevent souls from passing from one to another, and as we, poor souls, fail to realize this, we are tricked by all kinds of deceptions. (This is why good spiritual direction is crucial but also unfortunately scarce, as our priests are many times too busy to have a prayer life of their own – This should not discourage us – It will be hard but if God sees our resolute ambition to grow closer to Him, He is God and can provide assistance whether it be through books, our patron saints or angels, our Blessed Mother herself and of course – the Holy Spirit. Think of the hermit saints. Of course, there is danger into thinking one can go “alone”. Satan will deceive you and only deep prayer – especially prayer to Our Lady will help you discern these deceptions. One must be humble enough to know that knowledge ONLY COMES FROM GOD.)
St. Teresa talks about how in the higher Mansions, the faculties of the soul have enough “strength for the fight”. Once a soul has climbed the mountain away from the serpents and reptiles of deception, it will have more grace to discern and fight off temptation. It is critical for the soul to know that it is only by God’s grace and not to be attributed to his own “gifts” – they came from God. She goes on to talk about the bite of Satan which is sin and sometimes grave sin.
As long as the soul has not, by contrition and firm purpose, retracted its attitude of sin and returned to God, it remains deprived of all the spiritual advantages that ensure its right orientation and union with Him.
A soul in the state of grace resembles the tree of life, planted in the living waters of life – namely, in God. If a soul commits mortal sin, it loses that life.
Charity alone can vivify good work; without it, every work is dead. But a soul in the state of sin has lost contact with the divine source of Love; charity is no longer poured out within it. It gives no shade and yields no fruit. Dead to the supernatural life, it is condemned by its state to a complete sterility. Teresa says:
None of the good works it may do will be of any avail to win it glory; for they will not have their origin in that First Principle, which is God, through Whom alone our virtue is true virtue. After all, what kind of fruit can one expect to be borne by a tree rooted in the devil?
St. Teresa lays stress on the profit she had gained from the vision of a soul in the state of mortal sin; the principal benefit was that she “had learned to have the greatest fear of offending God”.
After the Last Supper, when He had crossed the Cedron, Jesus makes known a change in His soul; “My soul is sorrowful unto death. It is the hour of the power of darkness.” On hearing this cry of sadness, we are led to think of the word of St. Paul: “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23
During the Agony in the Garden, Jesus’ holy humanity becomes the battle ground of the two most powerful forces; that of the divinity which sanctifies it; and that of the sin of the world of all time. Hell rises to the attack of Heaven, to spread its darkness, its hatred, its death. It is the hour of the power of darkness. Jesus who without weakening had borne the weight of the divinity, falls to the ground, groans, and sweats blood under the weight of sin. Humanly, He would have died if God had not sent an angel to sustain Him and to assure Him of sufficient strength to go through all the stages of His sacrifice. More eloquently than all speeches and all visions, the drama of Gethsemane discloses the destructive power of sin.
O souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ! Learn to understand yourselves and take pity on yourselves! Surely, if you understand your own natures, it is impossible that you will not strive to remove the pitch which blackens the crystal? Remember, if your life were to end now, you would never enjoy this light again. (I Mansions, Chapter ii Peers. Pg. 206)
She then goes into explaining her visit to Hell which God afforded her so that she would explain it to us and experience it to increase within her a greater love for God and His Most Holy Will (read pages 162-163 in I Want to See God)
The vision of hell arouses in St. Teresa an immense pity. She writes:
This vision, too, was the cause of the very deep distress which I experience because of the great number of souls who are bringing damnation upon themselves. It also inspired me with fervent impulses for the good of souls: for I really believe that, to deliver a single one of them from such dreadful tortures, I would willingly die many deaths. I do not know how we can look on so calmly and see the devil carrying off as many souls as he does daily. (Life, xxxii; Peers p. 215-7)
May God, in His mercy, deliver us from such great evil, for there is nothing in the whole of our lives that so thoroughly deserves to be called evil as this, since it brings endless and eternal evils in its train. (1 Mansions,ii, Peers p 206)
Blessed Father Marie-Eugene states that the writings of St. Teresa about the First Mansions should stir a soul to have salutary fear in order to prod it on to an effort to leave the regions they inhabit and enter resolutely into a more profound interior life. Unless one does so, a terrible danger threatens it, the evil of mortal sin with its train of further evils. May we make an energetic resolution in order to find ourselves already in the second Mansions.
Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us.
All ye holy angels and saints, Pray for us.
Sacred Heart of Jesus – Have mercy upon us!
Blessed Fr. Marie-Eugene