Book Review: The Devil in the Castle


The Devil in the Castle

Each chapter of The Devil in the Castle is devoted to one of seven mansions. Woven throughout are Saint Teresa’s own words, as well as Burke’s clear and thorough explanations, making this book thought-provoking yet easy to comprehend.

In each chapter, Burke explains what is happening in the soul as it responds to God’s invitation to a life of prayer. He indicates how the soul progresses from one mansion to the next, and he provides the essential prayer practices needed to advance into each mansion. Burke also explains what the soul can expect from the Lord, such as how He uses consolation and desolation in prayer to invite the soul into deeper dependence on Him.

The majority of The Devil in the Castle, however, outlines the various goals and tactics of the devil within each of the seven mansions.

As the soul progresses in the castle—from the first mansion to the seventh—it becomes closer to God and thus stronger. Here, the devil loses his power, and therefore, his tactics have to adapt to the soul’s dwelling place within the castle. Sometimes his tactics remain similar, but they become much more subtle in hopes that the soul will fumble.

Each chapter concludes with a very helpful summary that serves as a great reference point for future review. Reflection questions allow this book to be a prayerful aid in advancing in the spiritual life. At the end of the book, Burke gives a step-by-step guide on what to do next, in light of a greater awareness of the war the devil has raged on our souls. He also includes a substantial section of “Resources for Continued Spiritual Growth.”

Why I Loved This Book

Many years ago, I attempted to read Saint Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle and it felt so beyond me. I didn’t understand what she was even talking about! And I quickly gave up. Perhaps I wasn’t ready for it, or maybe it just wasn’t the right time for me to explore this spiritual treasure, or maybe it was a badly-written translation.

But throughout the years, I continued to feel as if this Doctor of the Church was too advanced for me; that she was out of my reach.

Until I read The Devil in the Castle.

Dan Burke has introduced me to a saintly friend who is not beyond me at all, but who wants to guide me beyond the outer chamber of my soul and into its very depths. For she knows that in the interior castle I will find the love and light of the Lord Who deeply wants to share that inner chamber with me. And not only in eternity, but in the here and now, in the everyday encounter with Him through prayer and living a life centered on Christ.

But like any good friend, Saint Teresa also warns me of the pitfalls that lie ahead as I advance in the spiritual life. In fact, she insists that I understand what is happening. And for this new awareness, I am especially grateful.

As I continue on my own journey within my interior castle, I feel more equipped to notice the devil’s plan to derail me. I also feel more confident in hearing the promptings of the Holy Spirit over the noise of this world. And I think I’m almost ready to give Interior Castle another try.

This post was originally published on the blog at Blessed is She and is reprinted here with permission.

Image: Deposit Photos.

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