Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lent XIV

Let us endeavour to do our best: beware of the poisonous reptiles--that is to say, the bad thoughts and aridities which are often permitted by God to assail and torment us so that we cannot repel them. Indeed, perchance we feel their sting! He allows this to teach us to be more on our guard in the future and to see whether we grieve much at offending Him. Therefore if you occasionally lapse into sin, do not lose heart and cease trying to advance, for God will draw good even out of our falls, like the merchant who sells theriac, who first takes poison, then the theriac, to prove the power of his elixir. This combat would suffice to teach us to amend our habits if we realized our failings in no other way, and would show us the injury we receive from a life of dissipation. Can any evil be greater than that we find at home? What peace can we hope to find elsewhere, if we have none within us? What friends or kindred can be so close and intimate as the powers of our soul, which, whether we will or no, must ever bear us company? These seem to wage war on us as if they knew the harm our vices had wrought them. 'Peace, peace be unto you,' my sisters, as our Lord said, and many a time proclaimed to His Apostles. Believe me, if we neither possess nor strive to obtain this peace at home, we shall never find it abroad.

St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, Second Mansions


  1. MrsDarwin9:33 AM

    The "poisonous reptiles" are a favorite image of mine, and so distinctly Teresian that I knew you were quoting Interior Castle immediately. Interior Castle is a difficult book for me, though it's written in such a clear style -- I've read the first mansions several times and the last ones never, because I always realize that I'm still standing out in the courtyard hanging out with the poisonous reptiles and the other people of goodwill who've at least gotten far enough to realize that there is a castle.

    Love this Lenten series.

  2. branemrys2:31 PM

    That's probably the right attitude to take. I think a lot of people fool themselves into thinking that they understand much of the later material, when in fact it is all just very indirect and figurative ways of talking about things that really need to be experienced for oneself before one fully understands them. And very few things are more dangerous than that. In any case, while I've read the last parts of the Interior Castle, I don't really understand them. (Actually, I probably did benefit from the reading just by realizing that I didn't.)

    I've been finding the Lenten series unexpectedly rewarding; I pick out the quotes about at least several days beforehand, so I'm not scrambling last minute to find them, but they always end up being worthwhile even though I've already looked at them -- a reminder when I need it, or else I see something important in the passage I didn't see originally.


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