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St. Teresa of Avila
Interior Castle

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But now you will say to me: How did the soul see it and understand it if it can neither see nor understand? I am not saying that it saw it at the time,121 but that it sees it clearly afterwards, and not because it is a vision, but because of a certainty which remains in the soul, which can be put there only by God. I know of a person who had not learned that God was in all things by presence and power and essence; God granted her a favour of this kind, which convinced her of this so firmly122 that, although one of those half-learned men whom I have been talking about, and whom she asked in what way God was in us (until God granted him an understanding of it he knew as little of it as she), told her that He was in us only by grace, she had the truth so firmly implanted within her that she did not believe him, and asked others, who told her the truth, which was a great consolation to her.123
Do not make the mistake of thinking that this certainty has anything to do with bodily form -- with the presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for example, unseen by us, in the Most Holy Sacrament. It has nothing to do with this -- only with His Divinity. How, you will ask, can we become so convinced of what we have not seen? That I do not know, it is the work of God. But I know I am speaking the truth; and if anyone has not that certainty, I should say that what he has experienced is not union of the whole soul with God but only union of one of the faculties or some one of the many other kinds of favour which God grants the soul. In all these matters we must stop looking for reasons why they happened; if our understanding cannot grasp them, why should we try to perplex it? It suffices us to know that He Who brings this to pass is all-powerful,124 and as it is God Who does it and we, however hard we work, are quite incapable of achieving it, let us not try to become capable of understanding it either.




121 Gracián amends the following phrase to read: "but that there has since remained with it, as it thinks, a certainty, etc."


122 Gracián alters this phrase to: "which made her understand this in such a way."


123 St. Teresa refers to this experience of hers in Life, Chap. XVIII (Image Books Edition, p. 180). Later, a favour which she received (Relations, LIV: Vol. I, p. 361.) enlightened her further on this point. According to Yepes (II, xx) she asked him for theological guidance about it just before she began the Interior Castle.


124 The rest of this paragraph was omitted by Luis de León.





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