St. Teresa of Avila| Mystic, Doctor of the Church

Deacon Corner | October 15, 2021

"As far as I can understand, the door of entry into this castle is prayer and meditation…the soul is advised to enter within itself." (from Interior Castle)

Reflection: Seeing Beyond the Veil

We are all souls with our own castles, but not all of us may desire to move from the outer to the inner court. Happy to remain on the outskirts, we do not come to know the wonderful place or the riches that wait for us on the inside. “Where their treasure is, there is their heart also” (Mt 6:21). Attached to our preoccupations and worries, we live behind a veil of ignorance about the truth of our being. 

Teresa implored us to see beyond the veil and to travel through all the royal rooms; the way of entry, she found, was through prayer and meditation. In our human evolutionary journey we have become too self-reliant and to eager to claim credit for the things we have achieved. What of divine assistance? What of divine law? We forget that beyond us is a universal force supplying life at every moment – with every breath we take, with every sun that rises and sets. 

When we come to prayer with a humble heart, the door is opened much wider than when we think we are still affecting everything. Throughout her writings Teresa never tired of reminding us of the great benefits of entering genuine humility; that is, of allowing the ego to release control. When we do this, our prayers can become pure and spontaneous thoughts of the soul, or simply a state of being where we rest rather than constant petitions for what we want.

Teresa strongly disliked repetitive prayers and voiced her displeasure at this religious ritual: “Would we give a friend so little attention? she asked. She actively encouraged praying with thought and feeling and demanded respectful interaction with the Divine, not simply uttering words out of habit or hope. She also introduced the practice of meditation to the Carmelite Order and was considered an expert on this subject, which her numerous writings attest to. 

Believing herself incapable of meditation after many attempts, Teresa (temporarily) gave up the practice. She warned against such nonsense and called for perseverance, saying that we need to release any expectation of what we think should happen and to rely on God to guide us.

There are many rooms in the caste, she reminded us, and we may be taken to any of these rooms at any time – it is not up to us to decide where we need to go. Our meditations and prayers take us into places of deep peace, or longing and pain; unbidden memories may surface, or feelings of lightness and grace may pervade our soul. As we journey toward the center of our being, may we be open to visiting all the rooms in our castle. 

Meditation

Relax into the quietness of your being. Lay down your need to control and agree to let the Divine guide you. Breathe, and trust that you will be taken where you need to go. Breathe deeper and deeper into your being – let yourself go to wherever you are being taken.  

(Source: Falling into the Arms of God: Meditations with Teresa of Avila by Megan Don)

Tags: Meditation, Carmelite Order, St. Teresa of Avila
 

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