St. Teresa of Avila’s Bookmark
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.
An important mystery that is part of all our lives is that as beloved children of God, though we are called to share in the beauty of God, who is Love, that beauty will inevitably involve our being engaged in a spiritual battle. Whenever God has something really big in store to bless our socks off, the enemy tries to interrupt God’s plans. He’s on a leash, but he’ll do everything possible in his power to try to discourage, distract, and sway us from showing up. He can make us sick, he can disrupt relationships at home and at work; he can present all these different obstacles to try, in any way, to discourage us – which is his favorite weapon – and take away our resolve to seek God’s face, though we were once excited to do so for months previously. Finally, when the moment has come, and the week is here, so many things might seem to fall apart. That goes with the territory of seeking the Lord with all of our hearts, minds, and strength.
The Lord desires us to be strengthened in our faiths and in our will, uniting ourselves to His love, that nothing may separate us from the love of God. For that reason, because we do know what it means to experience the good fight of faith and spiritual battle, Saint Teresa’s bookmark speaks strongly to all of us and to many others, Secular Carmelite or not.
Our Holy Mother Saint Teresa’s beautiful bookmark is one of the most commonly known of all of her writings. It’s really an echo of the Lord’s words in the gospel of John. In the Last Supper discourse in Chapters 14 to 17, one of Saint Teresa’s favorite and the favorite of so many of the close friends of God, Jesus pours out His heart. He speaks of the most intimate thing to His friends. He’s trying to build them up, animating them and preparing them for perseverance; to be filled with the Spirit, to not allow any contradiction of the cross or any scandal of suffering to sway them from their purpose in being united to Himself. In building them up, he is preparing them to receive a new outpouring of the Spirit. He tells them not to be afraid. He tells them to allow the impact of the Father’s peace to remain prominent in every problem that they would eventually face.
By communicating the experience of grace to them, Jesus gives us focus on how to remain firm in a faith that is centered in Him. Saint Teresa’s bookmark echoes that essential Easter message that God is with us – in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, in season and out of season, in consolation and desolation. God is with us – in the springtime and in the desert, in the valley and in the mountain, whether in darkness or in the full light of the beautiful pasture – God is with us as the good shepherd (to be continued).
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.’