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The Diamond Castle

Adapted from the Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

by Theresa Marie Lynn, M.T.S.

Illustration by Al Cassidy

“We know we have souls. But we seldom consider the precious things that

can be found in this soul, or who dwells within it, or its high value.”

— Saint Teresa of Avila —


Introduction by Theresa Lynn, M.T.S.

Today in America, castles at the Disney theme

parks, princess costumes, wizards, and magic fill

the imaginative hearts and minds of our children.

While they can create happy playtimes, a young mind

may believe that this type of play can be realized

concretely in some future reality. It is many a little girl

who “wants to be a princess when she grows up.” In the

end, the entertainment of Disney, which promises a place

“where dreams come true” and where “magic happens”

points to what St. Teresa of Avila called, “building castles

in the air.”

It is my hope that by bringing The Diamond Castle to

young children, it will help them to make the distinction

between the real castle that lies within themselves and

leads them to know and love God, and the castles that are

just for momentary pleasure. One castle lasts forever; the

other castles fall and there is only one real King, Christ

Jesus. Saint Teresa always refers to him as His Majesty.

Saint Teresa’s metaphor is the anti-thesis to the

charm of make-believe. Our children’s hearts are so open

to what is beautiful and good. As parents and catechists

we must help them to know what is true and what is

make-believe. When they are taught what is true and

lasting they can discern as they grow to what is authentic

beauty and authentic goodness.

The Diamond Castle first came to mind when

I was teaching my third and fourth grade religious

education students. The lessons included multisyllable

Catholic terms flowing from our beautiful

doctrines surrounding, Sacrament, Paschal Mystery

and the Eucharist. The children in my classes seemed

to not have any problem with these “big words.” In

addition, the curriculum offered the teaching of the four

types of prayer, went over the beatitudes, moral lessons,

and what is venial and mortal sin, the virtues, and the

gifts of the Holy Spirit and corporal works of Mercy.

Their verbal skills and amicable behavior in class

also impressed me. They would answer theological and

religious education questions that I would present to

them and their profound answers and correct responses

were not only edifying to me, but showed me how the

Holy Spirit was working in their young minds. Often,

to see what they knew, I would ask them questions

about things they had not even been taught yet. These

young students seemed to be really starting to grasp the

mysteries of the Church.

Each class started with a blank sheet of paper for the

students to take notes with colored markers and crayons.

Usually, I would start with a lesson that was outside of

that week’s textbook instructions. I would typically begin

with Church history. History can be illustrated with a

timeline. I would have them draw a line with an arrow

on both ends and a vertical line through the middle for

the time Christ entered into history. We plotted salvation

history before Christ (BC), and after Christ (AD), or Old

Testament and Old Covenant and New Testament and

New Covenant times.

The first question I would ask my students was,

“How long ago did Jesus live?” There were various

answers from 100 to a million years ago. This showed

me that their concept of history and time was still being

formulated. It showed me they needed the basics as well

as learning the terms which would help them in what

would be their future dialogue with others about who the


Church is, and what she believes. When did the people

throughout salvation history, like Moses and Abraham

live? After Christ, when was St. Teresa of Avila born?

What did it look like on the timeline?

Prayer was a big lesson and an important activity in

each week’s class. Springing from the implementation

of Vatican II’s “universal call to holiness,” prayer gained

its own section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

and religious education materials have followed this

initiative by including lessons on prayer. At the third and

fourth grade level, students are learning new prayers like

the Memorarae and the types of prayer; petition, praise,

thanksgiving, adoration.

Beyond the types of prayer and memorizing the

standard prayers, since I saw that the student’s intellects

seemed open and capable of learning deeper theological

concepts, I thought of introducing them to what it meant

to have a “spiritual life.” I wanted to share with the

students what I had learned about holiness and the soul’s

union with God, while studying theology at the Institute

for Pastoral Theology with Ave Maria University. The

first place to start would be to teach them that they have

a soul and who dwells there.

However, I did not find any lesson on the soul as part

of the textbook curriculum. I was inspired to realize that

Saint Teresa of Avila’s use of castle imagery, to depict the

soul and how God is experienced there, could provide a

creative way for teaching a lesson on the soul.

St. Teresa of Avila recommends that you think of the

soul as a beautiful diamond castle where the His Majesty

the King of Glory resides. I had the students draw their

own diamond castle. Using the Index in the back of The

Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, translated by

Father Kieran Kavanaugh, O.C.D. and Otilio Rodriguez,

O.C.D., I picked out symbols from the list, that I thought

they could grasp. Young minds and even adults aren’t

ready in the first lesson for many of the symbols and

their meaning that St. Teresa uses throughout the Interior

Castle. But the basic symbols of vermin for sin and light

for Christ’s presence were easy for them to understand

and incorporate into their drawings and they were already

familiar. Their drawings were edifying. Some drew

hearts with castles in the center of the page to illustrate

Christ and His merciful Love. I did not suggest the use

of the heart to them, they thought of it on their own. The

“heart” is so much a part of Catholic spirituality.

Drawings of the diamond castle were so inspiring to

me that I decided to put the lesson down on paper. It is

my prayerful hope that The Diamond Castle will be the

first in a series of books that will teach children about

their soul and union with God. It starts your child on a

journey that Saint Bonaventure described as “a journey

of the mind to God.” I am thankful to Al Cassidy, the

illustrator, of the diamond castle image. It truly should

stir your child’s imagination and illustrate the beauty of

the soul that St. Teresa of Avila speaks of in her spiritual

works.

I don’t know if anyone has ever attempted an artistic

rendering of the diamond castle metaphor, but I believe

Al Cassidy accomplished it well. As I expressed to him on

more than one occasion, when Saint Faustina Kowalska

was following our Lord’s request to have the image of

his Divine Mercy painted and she was concerned that the

painting did not show our Lord as beautiful as he really

is, our Lord told her, “It is good enough.”


L

ong

ago, most of the nations in

the world were ruled by Kings

and Queens who lived in castles.

They reigned over their kingdoms from

their castle. Their castles were made

of stone and mortar.

During that time there lived

a nun named Sister Teresa of Jesus.

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Sister Teresa of Jesus was born March 28, 1515 and

died on October 4, 1582.

She was a nun in the Order of Carmel. Her Carmelite

convent was located in the area known as Avila in the

country of Spain.

Sister Teresa of Jesus spent all of her days with other

Carmelite Sisters in the convent. They would say

beautiful prayers together. They prayed prayers you

know like the Our Father and the Hail Mary.

Every day she would offer herself to God through

Christ at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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When Sister Teresa was alone praying she thought a lot

about how to pray.

She said she used to think of Jesus Christ, our Lord and

our God, as present within her. She said, “It was in this

way that I prayed.”

Sister Teresa of Jesus is known today as Saint Teresa of

Avila. She was canonized a saint by the Roman Catholic

Church in 1622.

Saints are some of the best teachers.

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Saint Teresa wrote about our bodies and their interior life.

Our interior life is the life inside us that is experienced in

what is called our soul. Normally, our attention is on our

bodies and daily activities. This is called our exterior life

or “active life.”

The convent could be a busy place. Even with the hustle

and bustle of Saint Teresa’s active life, she found the time

to pray.

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God guided Saint Teresa on how to

pray so within the interior life of her

soul, she could grow closer to Him.

Saint Teresa listened carefully to

His guidance.

She wrote down the lessons for

prayer and her own prayer

experiences to complete a book

called, the Interior Castle.

In the year 1577, on the eve of

Trinity Sunday, Saint Teresa said

that, “in a flash,” God showed her

the book.

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Saint Teresa says that you will have great

joy when you are close to Jesus in the

interior of your soul. She writes that it is

a joy that makes you forget about yourself

and all the things that might distract you

from putting God first in your life.

She says that the joy will be so great that

you will want to praise God and share

with others the love you have found

through the King of Glory.

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Your “knock” on the door

of the castle are your

prayers.

His Majesty will hear you

and the door to your

castle will open.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;

knock and the door will be open to you.”

- Matthew 7:7-

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1 - CALVARY

Represents uniting our souls when

we suffer to Christ’s suffering on

the Cross.

2 - ST. PETER’S BASILICA

Church of the Holy See, the Bishop

of Rome and Pope of the Roman

Catholic Church. Responsible for

teaching the children of God faith

and morals.

3 - ANGELS

They help protect our souls from

the vermin outside the castle and

help us to pray to His Majesty and

make intercession to the King of

the castle with our petitions.

4 - ROSE GARLAND

Helps to realize the beauty that one

will find in their soul through

prayer. Also is reminiscent of the

Blessed Mother and the Rosary and

St. Teresa of Lisieux.

5 - DIVINE MERCY RAYS

Depicts the Divine Mercy devotion

that a soul can pray to help them be

close to Christ. White is for water

and red is for Christ’s blood.

6 - VERMIN

Alligators, snakes and dragon flies

represent sin and temptation

distractions from praying. They try

to keep us from entering the

diamond castle. It keeps us from

realizing God’s presence in our

soul.

7 - FLOWERS

Light up the outside of the body or

the outside of the castle because

nature glorifies God.

8 - HOMES

Illustrate that the souls of the

children of God are part of a

community of souls in prayer.

9 - GATE

Partially opened illustrates His

Majesty’s invitation for the soul to

unite themselves in prayer with him

to the Father with the Holy Spirit.

10 - THE VIRGIN MARY

Our Lady, Queen of Heaven. She

prays for us to His Majesty if we

ask her because she is so close to

him in Heaven. She fits next to the

King of Glory in Heaven.

11 - TORCHES

Like at church there is always a

candle lit when Christ is present in

the tabernacle. Depicts that this

diamond castle has the presence of

God.

12 - SACRED HEART

Christ has loved us all with a

human heart. For this reason, the

Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by

our sins and for our salvation, “is

quite rightly considered the chief

sign and symbol of that... love with

which the divine Redeemer

continually loves the eternal Father

and all human beings” without

exception, (CCC,478).

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The Ten Commandments

The First Commandment

I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange

gods before me. Exodus 20:2

Because the Almighty has revealed Himself to us as our God and Lord,

we must not place anything above him or consider anything more

important or give any other thing or person priority over Him. To know

God and to serve and worship Him has absolute priority in our life.

YouCat, 352

The first commandment summons man to believe in God, to hope in him,

and to love him above all else. CCC, 2134

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About the author of The Diamond Castle

Theresa Marie Lynn lives in Overland Park, Kansas and grew up in Independence, Missouri. She received a

Master’s degree in Pastoral Theology in 2009 from the former Institute for Pastoral Theology at Ave Maria

University. She is a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel parish, which is the Diocesan Shrine to the Divine

Mercy and Saint Faustina Kowalska, and is located in Kansas City, Missouri.

Theresa blogs at EucharistMatters.blogspot.com and published

the evangelization website, SinglesoftheEucharist.org in 2006.

She works as a consultant in Catholic media for CruxNow.com.

The Diamond Castle Project, which includes this book and is

first in a series, also includes a gaming app to provide a blended

learning opportunity around the diamond castle metaphor.

TheDiamondCastleProject.com

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