One summer, as a seminarian, I participated in an Appalachian ministry program in Kentucky and during that same time period I was reading some of the writings of St. Teresa of Avila – the saint whose feast the Church celebrates today. One quiet afternoon I was taking a “siesta” in my room and I had a vision, a dream (I am not sure which) where I was standing on the bank of one side of a river. There was a bridge that spanned across the river, but I had no desire to cross it. On the other side of the river there was a beautiful woman standing in a full white habit. She looked at me and smiled. Now, again, was it a dream or a vision or just my imagination running wild – I don’t know – but, it has been at least eighteen years now since that summer afternoon and I still remember that smile and it brings with it joy and peace.
St. Teresa is one of my favorite saints. She lived a life devoted to Christ and the Church (even as some in the Church held her in suspicion). She was strong willed and intelligent. Today, recognized as a Doctor of the Church, she offers a profound wisdom founded in a deep knowledge of grace working in the human condition.
Today’s second reading in the Office of Readings is a brief excerpt from one of her writings. As I reflected on the reading I was struck by the very simple admonition, “Keep Christ near”. This must be a profound truth for each disciple of Christ. No matter what circumstance, situation or season we find ourselves in; we must keep Christ near and in this we will know God’s blessings, protection and strength.
If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see what if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his graces, God desires that these graces must come to us from the hands of Christ, through his most sacred humanity, in which God takes delight.
Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me, I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example.
What more do we desire from such a good friend at our side? Unlike our friends in the world, he will never abandon us when we are troubled or distressed. Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near…
Below, is a clip of the Taize version of Teresa’s poem, “Eficacia De La Paciencia” (“Efficacy of Patience”). Often known as “Nada te turbe”. Truly, they are words to live by.
Nada te turbe,
Nada te espante,
Todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda,
Todo lo alcanza;
Quien a Dios tiene
Nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.
Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing scare you,
All is fleeting,
God alone is unchanging.
Who possesses God
God alone suffices.