and you know the way …

see Easter 5 (year A)
“many mansions”

Arches in San Vitale

Christ prepares a place but just as I get there he disappears, just as he did at Emmaus. For he is going to prepare the next place for me. For in the house of the Holy One there are many mansions/ dwelling places/ resting places/ rooms. Teresa of Avila said, “Let us now imagine that this castle, as I have said, contains many mansions, some above, others below, others at each side; and in the center and midst of them all is the chiefest mansion where the most secret things pass between God and the soul.”* Each sphere of consciousness draws me forward toward the next sphere. When I shed my body will this pattern continue from glory to glory, from intimacy to intimacy, toward the Throne, the Source, the Uncreated Light, Pure Love? I don’t know, but I’m guessing so.

Teresa continues, “We ourselves are the castle; and it would be absurd to tell someone to enter a room when he was in it already! But you must understand that there are many ways of “being” in a place.” And she says, “As far as I can understand, the door of entry into this castle is prayer and meditation.” And, “You must not imagine these mansions as arranged in a row, one behind another, but fix your attention on the center, the room or palace occupied by the King.  Think of a palmetto, which has many outer rinds surrounding the savoury part within, all of which must be taken away before the center can be eaten.  Just so around this central room are many more, as there also are above it. In speaking of the soul we must always think of it as spacious, ample and lofty; and this can be done without the least exaggeration, for the soul’s capacity is much greater than we can realize, and this Sun, which IS in the palace, reaches every part of it.”

Each of these mansions encompasses a way of God-consciousness.  When a person masters the way of a particular “mansion,” the stability and comfort of that mode of being-with-God disappears and the soul agonizes through a night of faith. Eventually the soul begins to appropriate a new and truer consciousness of God.  This painful process unfolds again and again throughout life.

“I go before you to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also.”
“But you keep disappearing! I never catch up.”
“You have a long way to go, my love.”

* all quotes from Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) The Interior Castle (translated and edited by E. Allison Peers)

One Response to “and you know the way …”

  1. claire Says:

    So this is what it is. As I reach a mansion and am ready to kick off my shoes and settle it, so soon I find that another mansion is calling me and I must pick up my staff all over again and push on…

    Thank you.

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