Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Interior Castle

I just finished reading Mirabai Starr’s translation of Interior Castle and man is that a readable version!!! It read so simply, in fact, that I became suspicious and had to pick up a different version, the one translated by E. Allison Peers, and found that the essential message remained the same, but something about Mirabai’s version reads like poetry!

Starr is the first non-Catholic to have translated this spiritual classic, and in doing so has made one marked change. Whereas St. Teresa of Avila, who was writing to the nuns in her cloister, refers to the nuns as ‘daughters’, and to the Carmelite Order, and to the devil as the devil himself, Starr has secularized these terms; ‘daughters’ has become ‘friends’, she doesn’t not refer to the Order at all, and satan has become ‘the spirit of evil’

The Interior Castle tells the story of a person’s spiritual progression. St. Teresa of Avila has explained the soul of the just man as having within him seven mansions. A person who is on the path to maturity will progress from one mansion to the next. Teresa says that as a person progresses, they will enter more deeply into themselves; self-knowledge and also humility is critical to this process. In the fourth mansion, a person will enter the supernatural, and possibly experience locutions and visions. St. Teresa of Avila advises great caution, however, in the discernment of the authenticity of these experiences. All spiritual messages, she claims, come either from ourselves, from God, or from the devil.

St. Teresa of Avila reformed the Carmelite Order in the 1560s, establishing the Discalced Carmelite Order, which is still thriving today. She is a Canonized Saint and Doctor of the Church, and has also written “The Way of Perfection”, another spiritual classic

Although it was interesting to read this book on my own, its material probably necessitates the guidance from a priest or nun who has been instructed for many years in Carmelite Spirituality.

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