Wednesday, July 11, 2012

About Those Mansions...

Every so often I check the keywords that bring people to my site. Today, I looked at them and saw "i read ignatius and avila and fenelon and just get depressed". 

Okay...I admit I smiled. Not because the words are funny but because these holy writers can seem rather daunting at times. When I read St. Teresa of Avila years ago my second reaction (you can read my first reaction here) was "Say what? You mean I've barely entered the castle? Mansions? Is that me over there standing in that cobwebbed corner paralyzed with fright?"  Not that I could move right then anyway, mind you, because that hideous reptilian creature thingy was nipping at my heels every time I tried to take a step. Scrupulosity was his name and not much got past him. He had one serious flaw though - he kept looking at himself because he took himself too seriously and loved himself too much. (Be quiet, Sigmund! Down, Jung! ) I knew I had my work cut out for me.

This was right after my six months of  "sainthood" I think. You know, right after the honeymoon period  when I was booted off my "throne" for the first time. I had dust in my nose for years.

Depressed? Oh, you could say that. Overwhelmed? Hmmm...that would work too. Of course, curiosity got the best of me and I read the entire book anyway. 

Then I tucked the book away in my "cellar". Gently of course. (You just don't offend your patron saint.)

As for Saint Ignatius (God bless his holy soul), I threw the book down in disgust (of myself) and didn't pick it back up for years. Talk about shining a light on one's soul! But there were a lot of things I wasn't willing to see yet so his "spiritual exercises" were left to languish on a shelf until my flabby soul had enough spiritual strength to pick it up again. You can't "exercise" when you are glued to your easy chair. (That darn throne!)

Fenelon I didn't read until recently and I immediately fell head over heels for him. His blunt writing style, his gift of exhortation - every word pierced my heart like an arrow. And it didn't hurt. It didn't depress me or overwhelm me. It gave me a clear picture of the work that still needed to be done and I appreciated it.

Why the big difference? Time, I think. Years later, I dragged my dusty copy of The Interior Castle out again and enjoyed reading it. I didn't feel depressed even though I "saw" that God still had His work cut out for Him.

 He takes joy in doing it. I am not my work in progress...I am His work in progress. And that makes all the difference.


  1. Mary,
    I love the last line of your post. "...His work in progress." I think that when we finally get that, then those heavy duty saints and their wonderful advice and teaching are easier for us to take.
    I am in the middle of St Teresa' Way of Perfection right now. Fenelon arrived today; I ordered it after reading those snippets you posted.
    See you around the Castle :)

  2. Hi Karin,
    From reading your comment I think you'll really like Archbishop Fenelon's book. It isn't called "Let Go" for nothing :) We even have to release control of our spiritual lives into God's hands.

    Are there scones in there? Lol. Probably just more humble pie I'm thinking...

  3. Karin,
    I guess you can see that I couldn't fix the white highlighting yet but thanks for the advice on it. (Thank you to Jennifer too.) Maybe I'll try to fix them this week.

    Maybe :)

  4. Humble pie~definitely an acquired taste. We humans can be such control freaks, but when we finally do let go and give God the control, we find true freedom and joy. I say joy and not necessarily happiness. It is possible(not easy) to be joyful amid unhappy circumstances so long as we keep our focus on Christ.
    I'll let you know how I like the Archbishop's book.

  5. Mary,

    Your post and the comments between you and Karin touched me, today, when I really needed it. I hadn't even heard of Fenelon before(!) but I just downloaded an ebook version and read the first two chapters. It lifted me from the discouragement that I was feeling back to the joy of truth, once again. God is so good!

    Thank you both!
    God bless:-)

  6. Hmm... Actually, the book I downloaded was 'The Inner Life', not 'Let Go.' Have you read this one, Mary?

  7. I suspect if the Saints taught us anything it is to focus on God above all.

    It's so easy in this modern world, even in our humblest devotions, to loose focus on what really matters.

    God bless.

  8. Karin,
    The "humble pie" thing reminds me of those googlebots. Remember that? Everyone thought that people were reading there entire blogs all in one day only to find out it was a bot all along! That made me laugh so hard!

    Your comment is wonderful. Like you, I believe there is a difference between happiness and joy and your words point out the real key word - Christ.

  9. Vicky,
    I could just hug you right now! Good thing you live so far away :) No, I haven't read The Inner Life but that's about to change. Thank you!

  10. Hi Victor,
    Isn't that the truth! We are surrounded by so many distractions today. Plus, we have the inner distractions to contend with too. It makes it so easy to lose focus on God.

    Thanks, Victor :)

  11. Mary...I had to laugh when I read this. The things peeps will type in Google. And the white highlighting cracks me up LOL!

    Oh, I want to pick up Fenelon again...or at least go through all the highlights I have on my Kindle.

    Are you the one who mentioned orange scones from Paniera? Oh. my. goodness. I had like three at our Carmelite meeting last much for sacrifice and self-control : )

  12. Hi Theresa,
    Are you still in your PJ's? Lol. I was in the middle of commenting on your post this morning when Michaela got up and didn't get to finish - I was in my PJ's too (if you can call them that). I love reading the keywords - they always make me smile! I get some pretty funny ones at times.

    I cannot fix that white highlighting (at least not yet) so I will have to live with it for now. I hope it doesn't make it too hard to read my blog? My brother's a computer genius but obviously I did not inherit this gene. I have an idea though ;)

    Yes, I love those orange scones! Aren't they the best?! Good for you for limiting yourself to three - I even get the large ones sometimes because the little ones are a teaser.

    I left Karin the scone message because she asked me if I ate all the scones on her "porch". I said that I only ate the orange ones :)

  13. I was going to have a semi-pj day today...which basically means comfortable shorts, tank and flip flops, no make-up and *I don't care what my hair looks like* but ugh!...of course forgot about appointment this afternoon.

    I like to say *see you around the castle* too but I am still floundering in the disgusting moat : )

  14. Those are good days ;)Sounds like you're describing me right now!

    Enjoy your dip!


  15. Mary, it's so nice to meet another Saint! Ah yes, I was one as well..many years ago for about six months too. :) Then I read Interior Castle and realized I was only banging on the door.

    I love that saying, "see you around the castle."

    God is soooo Good to give us time to get to know Him a bit before revealing the truth to us...and then only a bit at a time. I laugh now at how audacious I was because I was experiencing a few consolations and thought that made me holy! Ho! Ho! And now here I am in the desert with you again!

    Great post as always...and I think the white highlighting is very cool! Hugs to you little saint!

  16. Dear St. Patricia,
    Your comment made me laugh! Oh, God is good to give us six months of sainthood, isn't He? Yeah, I thought I was THERE too and then I found out I hadn't really even begun yet :)I was even on my way to saying a Hail Mary for each person on earth (grin).

    Glad you like the highlighting because it won't be disappearing for a little while!

    Hugs to you too :)

  17. Mary,

    You already know I had my six months of sainthood too!

    I've read all of St Teresa of Avila's books... a few times. It's amazing how they read differently every time I get them out. Of course the books stay the same, so it must be me who is changing. I keep looking at those mansions and hoping I'm getting further into that castle but I am disappointed! Not discouraged though!

    Fenelon? I was intrigued when I read a previous post of yours about one of his books. I looked him up on Kindle and there is a wealth of his books available. I downloaded one and I am reading...yes, his words are speaking to me as well.

    I love sharing spiritual reading. Thank you for your entertaining but helpful post.

    God bless!

  18. Hi Sue,
    Do we all fall for that trick I wonder? It's kind of funny when you think about it!

    I get something different out of books by the saints each time I read them again too. I have to say I am amazed by how holy they were. I honestly have no clue what mansion I'm in - just hoping I'm in the castle somewhere ;)

    I'm glad Fenelon's words are speaking to you. I'm going to order more of his works on my Kindle too. I think some of it is free online.

  19. Mary I do love your writing and the thoughts you share. I think somewhere deeeeeeep inside I know I am not even close to where I should be...but how to get there? Really? I feel like even though I don't want to be influenced by the world and society, I am. It is so distracting and keeping me from doing what I need to do. There are just so many ways to stay numb it seems! :)

  20. Hi Mary,
    I am so bad at checking back on others blogs for the comments. I just wanted to say thanks to Vicky too.
    The discussion here is always insightful but fun too.
    Oh and did my castle comment lead you all to think I was any where the interior? I'm lucky if I even reach the moat :)
    Loving Fenelon as you predicted. I am trying to read it slowly as the Introduction suggests~lots of highlighting going on.

  21. I'm glad I checked out your comments today - always such lively discussions! And did anybody happen to leave a boat here in the moat once you made it INTO the castle? I'm getting pretty tired of glugging around in here.

  22. We are the work of His hands, I think that is the salient point. I don't get depressed about not being a great saint like St. Ignatius or St. Teresa. Humility is surely critical, but there is also some confidence when we are able to love and have the grace of feeling tenderness to our Lord. Even times where I know my self-discipline is no where near St. Ignatius, nor my faithfulness in prayer that of St. Teresa, I know that the fact that I am still praying, and still loving and know that Jesus is my Savior and he loves me and will lead me as the lamb I am, I am not depressed or daunted. Only filled with hope!

  23. Hi Colleen (CDG),
    Sorry that it took me so long to reply to your comment - I was at a wedding yesterday.
    I know I am not where I should be either. The world "distracts" me too. I want to live more simply but often become caught up in the distractions that surround us. It's difficult sometimes to weed through what is good and what is "not so good" spiritually.

  24. Hi Karin,
    Funny :) Well, may the "barque of Peter" bring us safely across ;)

    Glad you are enjoying the book. I read from it a number of times each week - it really speaks to me.

  25. Hi Colleen,
    I loved your comment. Accepting where we are at without getting disturbed in spirit is very helpful I think. God will guide his lambs home :) We are blessed to have the saints intercession too!

  26. Hi Nancy,
    My apologies for missing your comment. I think we'd all have to swim across if Peter didn't leave his barque anchored there :)

  27. I will have to look at the downloadable ebooks by Fenelon. I've seen him quoted in many places but never pursued his work.

    It's funny you wrote about the Mansions. Our pastor gave us a handout on the Mansions and when I got done looking at it, my thought was that I would have to spend an awful long time in purgatory with God doing some hefty scouring before permanent union with Him is possible. That doesn't discourage me because, as you say, we are a work in progress and sooner or later He'll get the job done.