Reading chapter 7 of the sixth mansion, I have decided it is best to read Teresa one chapter at a time. There is too much on which to think to do it any more quickly than this. And I am also sure I do not do any justice to her work as I translate her thought into a modern way of thinking. For example I had compared what I was reading to perplexity (which though St. Paul spoke of it seems rather modern) and this is a little remiss for Teresa knows all along as to what is the desire of her soul even if the path taken must be carefully traveled evident today as I read that mortal flesh can never dispel with meditation and meditation especially on that which is knowable in the lives of the blessed Virgin and the saints. (Saints?) This does not entirely sound like modern perplexity.
I also have to be aware of how she uses the words heart and soul. Moderns are very familiar with the former, but only pretend to know the later. Already I have decided to find a works of exegesis on her text. I have already found one written by a professor at the Gregorian University in Rome that I will read. I will first though wait until I finish The Interior Castle and give it time to sink in before seeking these out.
As of today I have started to read her work as being more about longing than confusion (and I do not refer here to the type of confusion that may come from evil of which her work also speaks.) The modern mind, of course, is quite good at moving from perplexity to longing. It is how we discern the destiny of everything from vocation to love. Teresa’s work though touches on something even more profound, one that anyone who has come to faith from its absence can relate to, though perhaps not as mystically as Teresa.
Keeping her language free of my own understanding is one of the reasons I have slowed down my pace. It is not that my use of language is poor, but it is from an earthly and modern place. I cannot even imagine how much has to have been written about her experience in our day and giving it over to the modern mind. Even my use of the word longing may not be appropriate as I understand too much in terms of sehnsucht and filter it through the likes of CS Lewis and my own experience of the place not known.
It is best I suppose to then take Teresa in small doses and to be discerning about what is read. I will get around to the history and exegesis later, but for now she must be allowed to speak without these.
Image: St. Teresa of Avila statue at Serra Church, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Creative Commons license Dominus Vobiscum