The Interior Castle or, The Mansions
Including Some of Her Most Interesting Letters.
Among the things which I have been commanded to do under obedience, few have proved so difficult to me as writing at present something on prayer; and this for two reasons, because it seems to me our Lord does not give me spirit, nor a desire to write, and also because I have had, for the last three months, such a noise in my head, attended with extreme weakness, that I write with pain, even on necessary business.
But knowing the power of obedience, which makes things easy that seem impossible, my will is determined to undertake the work very cheerfully, though nature seems exceedingly averse to it, because our Lord has not given me such virtue that I should be able to accomplish the task, considering how I have to endure continual sickness, and how many different employments occupy my time, without great resistance on the part of nature. May he be pleased to accomplish the work, who has performed other more difficult things for me; in His mercy I trust.
I am confident I shall be able to say little more, than what I have said on other matters about which I have been commanded to write; I am even fearful lest what I may say should be almost the same; for as birds which learn to speak know no more than just what is taught them or what they hear, and this they often repeat, so do I in like manner. Hence, if our Lord wishes me to say anything new, His Majesty will teach it to me, or will be pleased to recall to my mind what I have said elsewhere. Even this would satisfy me, because I have such a bad memory, and I should be glad to touch upon some of those things which people say have been correctly handled, lest perhaps they might be lost.
If our Lord should not please to grant me this favour, however much I may weary myself and increase the pain in my head by obedience, I shall be a gainer, even though no fruit whatever should come from what I say. Wherefore I commence the work this day, being the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, in the year 1577, in order to obey the command given to me; and I am now living in the Convent of St. Joseph of Mount Carmel, at Toledo.
I submit in all that I shall say to the judgment of those who have commanded me to write, because they are persons of great learning. If, perchance, I shall say anything which does not exactly agree with what the Holy Catholic Church holds, it will be through ignorance, and not in malice. This may be taken for certain, since I have always been, am, and shall be, by the grace of God, subject to her voice. May our Lord be eternally blessed and glorified. Amen.
I have been told by those who commanded me to write this book, that as the nuns of this Convent of our Lady of Mount Carmel require some one to explain to them certain doubts regarding prayer, they thought that as women understand one another’s language best, and the nuns love me, what I should say would do them more good than the words of others; for these reasons, they considered it very important that I should undertake to say something on the subject. Hence, I consider that, in what I write, I am speaking only to them; for it seems foolish to think that my words can be of service to others. Our Lord will do me a great favour, if any one among the nuns shall hereby be moved to praise Him ever so little more. His Majesty knows well I have no other object. It is very evident, that when I happen to say anything to the point, people will know it is not mine, since there is no reason to think so. But they will discover in me a very poor capacity for such things, unless our Lord, through His mercy, shall give me understanding.
Teresa de Jesus.