Today while beseeching our Lord to speak for me because I wasn’t able to think of anything to say nor did I know how to begin to carry out this obedience, there came to my mind what I shall now speak about, that which will provide us with a basis to begin with.
It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places [Jn 14:2].
For in reflecting upon it carefully, Sisters, we realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says He finds His delight [Pr 8:31].
So then, what do you think that abode will be like where a King so powerful, so wise, so pure, so full of all good things takes His delight? I don’t find anything comparable to the magnificent beauty of a soul and its marvelous capacity.
Indeed, our intellects, however keen, can hardly comprehend it, just as they cannot comprehend God; but He Himself says that He created us in His own image and likeness [Gen 1:26-27].
Well if this is true, as it is, there is no reason to tire ourselves in trying to comprehend the beauty of this castle.
Since this castle is a creature and the difference, therefore, between it and God is the same as that between the Creator and His creature, His Majesty in saying that the soul is made in His own image makes it almost impossible for us to understand the sublime dignity and beauty of the soul.
The Interior Castle, I, Chap. 1, no. 1
Teresa uses a variety of images to describe the soul, likening it to a beehive, a garden, and in this case, a castle. In doing so, she attempts to explain its innate fecund richness brought about through its creation.
Made in the image and likeness of God, our souls mirror the Divine in our natural interior profundity and in our capacity to do His loving and saving will. Moreover, our souls are where Christ resides and interacts with us, and desires to permeate with his light.
The experience of God, therefore, is not something beyond the human experience, but intimately connected to it. Indeed, the work of personal transformation takes place in this interior environment.
May we learn from Teresa how to appreciate and care for our souls, that we may radiate Christ to others and give thanks to God for making us his home.
Father Emiel Abalahin, O.Carm.
O Holy Mother Saint Teresa, look down from heaven and see: visit this vine and protect what thy right hand hath planted.
(Mention your intentions)
Merciful God, who by thy Spirit didst raise up thy servant Saint Teresa of Jesus to reveal to thy Church the way of perfection: grant that her teaching may awaken in us a longing for holiness until, assisted by her intercession, we attain to the perfect union of love in Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us!
All citations for this novena come from the 1985 edition of The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated from the Spanish by Kavanaugh, K; Rodriguez, O, published by ICS Publications, Washington DC.
Don’t become discouraged and give up prayer, says St. John of the Cross. We offer varying novenas to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as well as novenas to St. Joseph, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, and St. Edith Stein.Let us unite in prayer
I love this passage from the Interior Castle. The dignity of my soul, as daughter of God in His image. It doesn’t get any better than that. Yet so often I can be found lying among the reptiles in the ditch outside. These quotes and commentaries daily are one of the key helps which get me on my feet again and walking in through the door to be with God interiorly. Thank you for that. And I have a fair idea how you will respond: “At your service” – one of the Carmel things you taught me in life.