Dealing with the issue of progress in contemplative prayer, St Teresa says in Interior Castle that after we have moved beyond the First and Second Dwelling Places by our consistency in practising prayer, growth in self-knowledge, humility, and eradication of most of our sins and occasions of sin, we arrive at the Third Dwelling Place or railway station, as discussed by Ruth Burrows in the work I am discussing hereunder.
Isn’t that a significant milestone in our journey? Ruth Burrows OCD, in her work, Fire Upon the Earth, and as we recall from our reading of St Teresa’s Interior Castle, tell us that we should not rest or stop there but keep going.
Teresa tells us, as confirmed by Ruth, we need to welcome, and never shirk from, “the painful awareness of our sinful self”. Perhaps we are frightened to stand before God in our nakedness and depend on His merciful love, which is all we need.
“What has happened is that the roots of our basic selfishness have been left untouched”.
“Fear of the Lord means we have a keen realization that only his judgments matter. My actions have the value he sees them to have and no other. What we are in our own eyes, what we are in the eyes of others is of no consequence yet how easily we forget this in practice”.
Perhaps that is what Iain Matthew OCD means when he says, in The Impact of God, on page 139, that St John of the Cross is anxious that we move beyond statues to “the living image within, who is Christ crucified”.