Now let us speak about the type of soul that enters the second dwelling places and what such a soul does in them.
This stage pertains to those who have already begun to practice prayer and have understood how important it is not to stay in the first dwelling places. But they still don’t have the determination to remain in this second stage without turning back, for they don’t avoid the occasion of sin.
O Jesus, what an uproar the devils instigate here! And the afflictions of the poor soul: it doesn’t know whether to continue or to return to the first room. Reason, for its part, shows the soul that it is mistaken in thinking that these things of the world are not worth anything when compared to what it is aiming after. Faith, however, teaches it about where it will find fulfillment. The memory shows it where all these things end, holding before it the death of those who found great joy in them.
Ah, my Lord! Your help is necessary here; without it, one can do nothing.
It will seem to you that you are truly determined to undergo exterior trials, provided that God favors you interiorly. His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us. There’s no need for us to be advising Him about what He should give us, for He can rightly tell us that we don’t know what we’re asking for.
The whole aim of any person who is beginning prayer—and don’t forget this, because it’s very very important—should be that he work and prepare himself with determination and every possible effort to bring his will into conformity with God’s will.
Don’t think that in what concerns perfection there is some mystery or things unknown or still to be understood, for in perfect conformity to God’s will lies all our good.
Thus, if you should at times fall don’t become discouraged and stop striving to advance.
There is no other remedy for this evil of giving up prayer than to begin again; otherwise, the soul will gradually lose more each day—and please God that it will understand this fact.
Saint Teresa of Avila
The Interior Castle
The Second Dwelling Place
Chapter One (excerpts)
Teresa of Avila, St. 1985, The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, ICS Publications, Washington DC.