These are the first words of a beautiful and oft-quoted poem of Saint Teresa of Avila. I am now back in Canada after the pilgrimage to Spain for World Youth Days, yet the words remain with me after a visit to Avila, where St. Teresa lived and worked for many years.
“Nada te turbe; nada te espante; todo se pasa; Dios no se muda, la pacienza todo lo alcanza. Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta. Solo Dios basta.”
Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you, all things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. He who has God, finds he lacks nothing. God alone suffices.
-St. Teresa of Avila
My, how we worry and fret! So much to do, so many concerns. Anxiety reigns and we long for peace. Nada te turbe! Todo se pasa. Solo Dios basta. God alone is enough. When we live in communion with Him and surrender to His loving and providential care, the realities we face continue but worry about them ceases. These thoughts were running through my mind as I spent a prayerful day in the beautiful medieval town of Avila. I went there following World Youth Days in Madrid for a bit of rest.
This gave me the opportunity to visit the Carmelite Monastery of the Incarnation, where Saint Teresa lived for more than thirty years, three of them as prioress. There I celebrated Mass and offered it for our own Carmelite community in Devon, just outside of Edmonton.
I also was able to visit the Monastery of St. Joseph, the first foundation established by Saint Teresa as she began her work of reform. Certainly her life was not free of headaches! She had plenty of them as she initiated an important reform of her community. And yet in the midst of all the ceaseless difficulties, she could still peacefully teach: nada te turbe; nada te espante....Solo Dios basta. Whatever difficulties you are facing, do not fret. Anxieties arise when we face problems alone, relying only on our own abilities. Give it to God. Nothing is too big for Him. Surrender to the Lord and all comes into perspective. Solo Dios basta. When we live in communion with God and know His love and presence, we find that what we once thought was important and caused us grief begins to fade into insignificance, and we discover with joy and peace that all we truly need and desire is given. We lack nothing. Quien a Dios tiene, nada le falta.
From Avila I went to Barcelona with only one purpose in mind: to see the Church of the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) designed by Gaudi. It is truly a building of jaw-dropping magnificence, well worth the trip. Yet in the midst of this extraordinary edifice, what captured my mind and heart above all was a beautiful bronze sculpture on a wall in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
It is of the Holy Family, and surrounded on its frame by the word “Amen”, written three times. In striking fashion it conveys the Amen given by the child Jesus to his earthly father, St. Joseph, a sign of the perfect Amen given to his heavenly Father, as well as the wondrous Amen that both Joseph and Mary gave to Jesus, and through him, to the saving plan of the Father and their role within it. Their Amen serves as the model for our own. It is the surrender that gives peace, and awakens our hearts and lives to the truth of St Teresa’s words: Solo Dios basta.
Some important things to note for this coming week. First of all, I join with many in mourning the loss of two wonderful priests: Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, the former Archbishop of Toronto, and our own Father John Nowakowski. Fr Nowakowski served in this Archdiocese of Edmonton for more than fifty years, and is remembered as a dedicated priest, faithful to his calling from the Lord. While I was a Bishop in Ontario for five years, I had the opportunity and blessing of working closely with the Cardinal, and quickly came to admire his strength of conviction, his courage to speak, as well as the remarkable humility with which he listened to others. He, too, was faithful to his Lord. Each in his own way gave his Amen to the saving plan of the Lord and to their particular calling within its unfolding. May they rest in peace.
Also our school divisions are celebrating Masses this week to mark the opening of another school year. Let’s not fail to pray often for our schools. They are a great gift and task. May they continue to grow to be environments of faith, where our students learn to give their Amen to the love and calling of Jesus, so that, by living in union with him and in joyful obedience to his call, they will, with St. Teresa, know within their hearts that solo Dios basta.