Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Interior Castle Meditations: Part One

In fact, however acute our intellects may be, ... we can hardly form any conception of the soul's great dignity and beauty. ... As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or who dwells within them, or how percious they are - those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul's beauty. All our interest ins centered in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle - that is to say, in these bodies of ours.
Because we are made in the image and likeness of God, it will be impossible for us, in this lifetime, to truly understand the immense beauty and value of our souls. It is a shame too! Beacuase we do not value them as they should be valued, we do not work to save them from the stain of sin as we should. When we brush off holiness, saying that our sins are not actually sins, we do this in thinking of the here and now - not the eternal. Perhaps because they seem so common and non-extraordinary to us, we do not think twice about the things we submit ourselves to. It is often times because of our great stupidity that our souls are in great danger. That is exactly why we should seek to know and understand, as much as is possible on eath, our Creator, in whose image and likeness we have have been created. As long as we divulge in things of the world and neglect the true discovery of self, we forever put out souls in jeopardy. That is not to say that God abandons us but that we willingly seperate ourselves from Him who is God.
It should be noted here that it is not the spring, or the brilliant sun which is in the centre of the soul, that loses its splendour and beauty, for they are always within it and nothing can take away their beauty. If a thick black cloth be placed over a crystal in the sunshine, however, it is clear that although the sun may be sining upon it, its brightness will have no effect upon the crystal.
We will, in essence, live outside of ourselves as long as we do this. If the castle is our soul and we live , as St. Teresa says, in the outer wall of the castle, we live not for the light and certainly not in the light which is the center and core of each us. But the point that I was trying to get at was this: Because our soul is created by God in His own image (and because we will never understand the things of God) we can never appreciate the greatness (and expansiveness) of our own soul. (What humility this thought can bring!) Even more important to stress, in my mind, is the thought that comes from this: If I value my soul above all things now and my understanding of its importance is so foolish and far from true understanding, how amazing is my soul! How much more faithfully should I guard it!
The soul of the righteous man is nothing but a paradise, in which , as God tells us, He takes His delight.
This thought is so great (so overwhelming) as it is, and to know that what I feel and understand about its significance is so far from the whole understanding and significance makes me wonder how any man could allow himself to sin - or to sin without severe personal punishment. I realize that, as humans, sin is 'a part of our nature'. I also realize that as God loves us, He also wishes for us to love ourselves and out of that love, forgive - not only oursevles, but others too. For if God, so powerful and mighty, so pure and holy, should forgive us (in His great mercy), who are we to withhold forgiveness, great sinners that we all are? So though I understand that punishment in this way is not holy or "righteous", it still begs the question: Why? Why do we care so little to (1) find out more about ourselves (and therefore our Creator - as we are made in His image) and (2) to prevent the near occassion of sin. Certainly we should wish to keep our souls pure and stainless - these souls that are more precious than our ability to understand.

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