Saint Teresa’s Bookmark, standard translation
Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you
All things are passing
God never changes
Patience obtains all things
Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God
God alone suffices
Part of the healing work of the Holy Spirit is to attend to our needs, the bruises and wounds of our souls. But we must examine what needs Jesus’s attention. How can He most heal the hurts in your hearts in order that we are emptied and can let go of anything that would obstruct the outpouring of His Spirit?
If we’re wrestling with something unresolved, or disturbed, or in any way disrupting the tranquility of your soul, it can in a sense, occupy the space in our soul, that God in His presence wants to embrace. We need to empty ourselves, first and foremost, when we show up before God. The Penitential Rite at the beginning of the Mass is meant to help us empty ourselves, so that we may be filled with the lavishing of God’s love with the outpouring of the Spirit.
A unique translation of Saint Teresa’s bookmark was done by a Carmelite Friar named Father Anselm. This is how he translates that passage which is so precious to many of us:
All things pass, save God, who does not change
Be patient, and at last, thou shalt of all, fulfillment find.
Hold God, and nought shall fail thee.
For He alone is all.
This translation is so different that it’s hard to grasp it all in at once. Let’s look at it and the perspective of faith that it is offering us on how to clear our minds. Emptying our souls will inevitably involve clearing our minds of things we just need to cut the strings from: fear, worrying, considerations of your histories, your human relationships with each other. Just let the healing forgiveness of God’s heart help you to let go of everything.
The perspective that this prayer offers is God’s perspective of what is eternal in comparison to what is temporal. All things will change. Our moods will change. Our feelings are always in change. Our emotions are not the foundation of our faith because like the waves of the ocean, they are always in motion. Unreliable. Our faith is not about feelings. It involves feelings, at times, but that’s not the foundation that keeps us firm. Even when we’re feeling sad, desolate, or that God is distant, that is not a sign. Most often, for those who are faithful, those who are truly striving to stay in the state of grace, when we experience the darkness, that is not a sign that God’s love for us has changed. But it sure feels like it. Yeah it does, of course.
God does not change. His feelings aren’t up and down. We change all the time. When we see each other, we think ‘Oh, I haven’t seen this person in a long time, in four years. We used to belong to the same community but now we’re in two different branches and I haven’t seen him in a long time. Why did I get that reaction? Why didn’t I get a more joyful reaction? Why didn’t she smile when she saw me? Why did she look away? Why didn’t he greet me the way he greeted the other person?’ All this stinking thinking of comparing one another can enter into our heads, and it becomes distractions. It’s normal, it’s not sinful, we’re complex human beings and we need to be set free from those things.
For those of you who are married, sometimes, your spouse might get home and he or she is in a bad mood, and you don’t know why. You wonder, ‘Did I say something wrong? Did I do something? What’s going on?’ We immediately think that there’s something wrong with us because we’re not getting the affirmation or the response that builds us up.
When I’m feeling that way spiritually, down or distant from God, not consoled and distracted in prayer, I’m quick to presume that I must have done something wrong to deserve this. We need to move beyond those very human and earth-bound interpretations of our spiritual lives. We need to be set free from that by a deeper encounter with God’s Mercy. This encounter requires a lot of patience. “Patience obtains all things.” Through this encounter we discover true fulfillment and that “God alone suffices.” We don’t need to worry about all these lesser things. We don’t need to spend our energy, our attention, or our time, dwelling on these lesser things, putting third things first and first things third.
“God alone suffices.” That conviction of how God satisfies our hearts’ deepest longings, what we are made for at our core. The more we experience that reality, the truth of God’s love meeting us in the deepest part of ourselves, the more convinced we are. The more we are able to say with Saint Teresa with joy and utter conviction in the power of the Holy Spirit, Solo Dios Basta! Let it run through your bones. Solo Dios Basta! God alone suffices. He alone is all.
We have to hold on to God, as this translation says. There are times in our lives when all we can do is hold on to Him, and just cling to the cross. A true tree-hugger. Cling to the cross, like Saint Francis. When things get tough cling to the cross. Unite yourself to Him and just hold on. Sometimes, all we can do is just hold on. Jesus says, ‘It’s going to be OK. I know you don’t see past the clouds right now; I know that you don’t see beyond the bloody mess of the sweat, pain, and tears of Calvary in the way that may be expressing itself in your life right now but hold on. It’s going to be OK. Just hold on,’ “and nought shall fail thee for He alone is all.”
God’s miracles of mercy can begin to take shape and be poured out through patient perseverance in faith and not giving; in so doing, we allow God’s love to enlarge our faith and expand our hope to new horizons regarding who He is in us, with us and through us, and around us, and for us. These encounters oftentimes have to happen by passing some kind of crisis. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s mission is the miracle of God’s Merciful Love in each of our lives. End
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.
(SOURCE: Cristo Rey Retreat, SF, October 2015) Teresa 1- transcribed by TL
Copyright 2016, Fr. Robert Barcelos. All Rights Reserved
‘Arm yourselves with the armor of faith and the sword of truth. Pray for the grace to forgive and to ask for forgiveness – and for the healing of wounded bodies and souls.’