Listening to a directee talk of their recent pilgrimage to Walsingham and the way they were touched by the altar of the Annunciation and Holy House caused me to realise the way in which both of these speak powerfully of God’s invitation into an ever deepening relationship; with Him.
The Annunciation reminds us that God is constantly and graciously calling us to say ‘yes’ to his invitation that we should give birth to the image of him within us. The movement, then, from that altar at Walsingham into the Holy House is a symbolic movement into the inner room where the Divine presence of Jesus and Mary dwell. The House is our Heart and we enter it through an ever-open door to give attention to him who is enthroned there. Teresa of Avila, of course, expounds this journey in her book The Interior Castle where she writes that the entrance into this ‘Castle’ or ‘Mansion’ is through interior prayer (meditation) and how the person who responds to God’s invitation into the Castle by needs to be cleansed of sin and practice humility. In the same way, the entrance into the Basilica of the Incarnation in Bethlehem is through a low door which requires the pilgrim to bend low in order to pass through. One moves further into the Castle through deepening prayer and a growth of loving desire for God, something of which the pilgrim seeking God in the Holy House will be deeply aware. There are further rooms which are accessed by an increase of this love until ‘betrothal’ occurs in the final room, or Mansion.
All this is symbolic of the way the Heart is to be that Interior Castle in which God abides in Christ. If we give real attention to the Heart then that Divine Love will gradually melt our defences and draw us more deeply into union with the One who is always present to us. The Heart is, if you like, the locus of God’s hospitality.
‘O come to my Heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my Heart for Thee.’