" I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle
made of a single diamond or of a very clear crystal,
in which there are many rooms,
just as in Heaven there are many mansions."
And so started Teresa of Avila's famous piece of literature
on interior life "Las Moradas" or "The Interior Castle"
written in the 16th Century
the words still leap off the pages and speak to us in this day and age.
A wonderful, inspirational, piece of literature offering love, hope, and help.
Should any of you feel inclined to read this in its entirety,
it is available free from CCEL
The following is an excerpt from the introduction of Teresa's treatise
which to us is so explicitly gentle and discriptive
that you feel so taken by it,
and we felt we would like to share this with you.
The story goes.....
"Towards the end of her life, probably near the end of the year 1579,
St. Teresa was travelling with three of her nuns from Medina del Campo,
across the bleak Castilian plateau,
on her way to St. Joséph's, Avila.
Accidentally (or, as it would be more accurate to say, providentially)
she fell in with an old friend,
a Hieronymite, Fray Diego de Yepes.
Their meeting took place at an inn in the town of Arévalo,
where he had arrived some time previously, and,
as was fitting, he had been given the most comfortable room.
When the little party of nuns, half frozen but still cheerful,
reached the inn, there was mutual delight at the encounter;
and Fray Diego not only gave up his room to them
but appointed himself their personal servant for the period of their stay.
They spent, so he tells us, "a very great part of the night"
in conversation about their Divine Master.
On the next day it was snowing so hard that no one could leave.
So Fray Diego said Mass for the four nuns and gave them Communion,
after which they spent the day
"as recollectedly as if they had been in their own convent".
In the evening, however,
St. Teresa had a long conversation with her former confessor,
who later was to become her biographer,
and in the course of this
she recounted to him the story of how
she came to write the Interior Castle.
The report of this narrative may suitably be given in the words of Fray Diego himself,
taken from a letter which he wrote to Fray Luis de León about nine years later.
'This holy Mother,' he writes,
'had been desirous of obtaining some insight into the beauty of a soul in grace.
Just at that time she was commanded to write a treatise on prayer,
about which she knew a great deal from experience.
On the eve of the festival of the Most Holy Trinity
she was thinking what subject she should choose for this treatise,
Who disposes all things in due form and order,
granted this desire of hers,
and gave her a subject.
'He showed her a most beautiful
made in the shape of a castle,
and containing seven mansions,
in the seventh and innermost
of which was the King of Glory,
in the greatest splendour, illumining and beautifying them all.
The nearer one got to the centre,
the stronger was the light;
outside the palace limits everything was foul, dark
and infested with toads, vipers and other venomous creatures.
'While she was wondering at this beauty,
which by God's grace can dwell in the human soul,
the light suddenly vanished.
Although the King of Glory did not leave the mansions,
the crystal globe was plunged into darkness,
became as black as coal and emitted an insufferable odour,
and the venomous creatures
outside the palace boundaries were permitted to enter the castle.
'This was a vision
which the holy Mother wished that everyone might see,
for it seemed to her that no mortal
seeing the beauty and splendour of grace,
which sin destroys and changes
into such hideousness and misery,
could possibly have the temerity
to offend God.
'It was about this vision that she told me on that day,
and she spoke so freely both of this and of other things
that she realized herself that she had done so
and on the next morning remarked to me:
'How I forgot myself last night! I cannot think how it happened.
These desires and this love of mine made me lose all sense of proportion.
Please God they may have done me some good!'
'I promised her not to repeat what she had said to anyone during her lifetime.'"
Many of us have a fascination for crystals, including ourselves.
By the lights and myriad pictures and facets that abound within them.
They have a quietening and calming effect.
Almost like the moth to the light, we feel drawn to them.
Could the reason be that a crystal is so like our own soul that we are drawn to it?