Father Robert Barcelos, OCD: Lent – the second mansion: spiritual battle


Giacinto_Gimignani_, An Angel and Devil Fighting for the Soul (wiki commons)

St. Teresa’s only chapter on the Second Mansion, according to the translation of Allison Peers, is titled by one word – WAR. This a reason why you can see so many people who are “born again” go backwards. After their high or honeymoon or their jailhouse conversion, they return to the spirit of the world and to their old ways, their old lifestyles

This is not necessarily because of insincerity; it’s because the battle is strong at this stage. A lot comes against people, and the longer we’re away from the Lord, the fiercer the battle when we try to come back and stay with the Lord. Get ready for the battle. Get ready to throw down.

The longer we’re away, the bigger the battles. Part of this is simply battling against old weeds in our lives. We have to destroy the weed while it’s still a seed. The first moment a weed comes up in your thoughts, eradicate it, renounce it in Jesus’ name. Do not entertain it. Because the more that weed grows, the more it takes root in the soul and the harder it is to get rid of.

Destroy the weed while it is still a seed. We battle old weeds and thorns that will try to return to the surface. We battle to overcome badly acquired inclinations and habits of disorder, or negative forms of reacting to stress and crisis, or when things don’t go our way, or when we’re not acknowledged. We feel abandoned.

The lower faculties of the soul, which is called the psyche – the emotions, thoughts, the imagination – start to be attracted again to the things left behind for God. Now that I’m going through this battle, and I’m not feeling closeness to God, and the comfort of what it means to be faithful, and to belong to God, I start to get weak and my flesh starts to dominate; I have these inclinations to take refuge in the things of the world.

When experiencing spiritual consolation, the soul doesn’t have any attraction to the things of the world. It’s rubbish, easy to give up, no problem – as long as God is offering something better.

St. John of the Cross speaks of the metaphor of God putting spice on the mother’s breast of a breast-feeding child, in order to wean the child off of the nursing mother. God puts a spice, as it were, on the breast to make the child detach itself from these immediate sense consolations that keep us in an infant stage, and to prepare us to be able to eat the meat, and not rely on baby food. He hides His face

At this time, the old self tries to regain lost ground. The battle can be fierce, very fierce. The ascetical challenge here, in terms of how we respond, is mortification, self-denial of the appetites.

SOURCE: Teresa 5, Copyright 2018, Father Robert Barcelos, OCD

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