Follower of Jesus (41)

Oct 15, 2017

Why Pain? (2)

How do we respond to seemingly

Random acts of terror:

Makes us wonder:

If this pain is present,

Is there a loving God? (2)

In order to understand at a deeper level how God views things, I want to quote Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). I will use several quotes from her writings titled “The Interior Castle”.

            “While I was beseeching Our Lord today that He would speak through me…..I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there were many rooms, just as in Heaven ‘There are many mansions’ (John 14:2).”

Note that Teresa was speaking of the soul that each of us carry deep within us that forms the True Self, or that which is The Image of God. This looking or view point is a challenge that each of us faces, as we have become deeply attached to our ego, which is our False Self, or the image we like to project, rather than the True Self, the image of God that is ours alone.

James Finley, one of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) core faculty member, describes further:

Teresa was given the metaphor of a beautiful castle inside of us to represent the soul where God dwells. In this castle, there are seven ‘mansions’ or dwelling places, which basically describe different stages along the spiritual journey. Teresa walks her readers all the way through to the seventh mansion, the state of mystical marriage or divine union, where we and God disappear as other than each other.” (2)

The whole of the spiritual journey is described in this beautiful union, where we are immersed in the union with God, and we cannot tell the difference. This is how we see through the eyes of God: for, as promised in the words of Jesus in John 14:20 quoted before, “I am in the father and you are in Me, and I am in you.”  What wondrous words we see: and so difficult to believe.

Teresa goes on, in the opening paragraphs of her treatise:

“I can find nothing with which to compare the great beauty of a soul and its great capacity. In fact, however acute our intellect may be, they will no more be able to attain a comprehension of this than to an understanding of God; for as God [ ] says, God[ ] created us in the image and likeness of God [ ] {Genesis 1:26). Now if this is so – and it is – there is no point fatiguing ourselves by attempting to comprehend the beauty of this castle; for, though is God’s [ ] creature …….we can hardly form any concept of the soul’s great dignity and beauty.”

As if this is not breathtaking as it stands, Teresa goes on to state:

“Now let us return to our beautiful and delightful castle (which is our soul) and see how we can enter it. I seem to rather to be talking nonsense; for if this castle is our soul, there can be no question of our entering it (since we are the soul we are going after). For we ourselves are the castle: and it would be absurd to tell someone to enter a room when he is in it already! But you must understand that there are many ways of ‘being’ in a place.” (1)

            These words make the head swim, for Teresa, almost 500 or so years ago, clearly was one of those mystics who saw the power of the words of Jesus. It is by climbing those seven mansions described by Teresa of Avila that we fully realize that we are the face of God, and see the true reality that only God sees in our life. The key to understanding these short paragraphs of Teresa is the very last statement quoted: “there are many ways of ‘being’ in a place.

We will continue to look at this, and say a few words on the ‘many ways of being’ that Teresa talks about in the next offering.


 Oh You who see Truth in all things, you know me inside and out. You know what I think or say before the words ever form in my mind. I lay myself into your warmth and love; absorb me and form me into truly Your Image and Likeness. I open my heart up to Your love, that it may flow through me to increase the love in our poor world that is so in need of seeing Your love, which is so overflowing but unseen by so many. Grant us the grace and internal peace, no matter what is happening, that is ours for the taking. We too often live in fear and confusion when facing the unknown in the future, and give us the understanding of our internal Being that is the castle within.

(1)Teresa of Avila, The Interior Castle, trans. E. Allyson Peers (Dover Publications: 2007, copyright 1946, 17.

(2)James Finley, Richard Rohr Daily Meditation, 10/8/17.


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My God has led me on an 80 year jaunt to ever more wondrous beauty. I am led to share this journey and gifts of God that have been showered upon me, not just for me but for whoever God brings into my path.

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