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Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Nada te turbe

Today's feast of St Teresa marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of the 500th anniversary of her death in 1515. No doubt it will be filled with conferences, books and articles, and the Carmelites will have prepared themselves for an upsurge in interest in their way of life and spirituality. So I know this little blogpost will be only a tiny drop in the vast Teresian ocean - an ocean made even vaster by the huge presence, personality and heart of Teresa herself.

One of her best-known pieces of writing is her "bookmark", nada te turbe, which translates as:

Let nothing disturb you,

nothing frighten you,

All things are passing;

God never changes.

Patience obtains all things.

Whoever has God lacks nothing;

God alone is enough.


It is, in a way, a prayer of two parts: a call to trust, with the reassurance of the certainty and permanence of God, followed by the reminder that this God is all we need. And whenever I hear it I am reminded of a prayer by Julian of Norwich, a mystic who died about a hundred years before Teresa's birth, but whose spirituality and writings are equally timeless:

God, of your goodness, give me yourself; you are enough for me, and anything less that I could ask for would not do you full honour. And if I ask anything that is less, I shall always lack something, but in you alone I have everything.

Teresa's legacy is alive in the Carmelite family around the world, especially the women who live her spirit and rule in a diversity of ways, as can be seen in this international virtual choir singing a new arrangement of nada te turbe. The song is beguilingly beautiful, reminding us that beneath the starkness and struggle of absolute trust and God alone, lies a well of deep serenity and joy. May Teresa - and Julian - pray for us, that we may know the truth of this in our hearts and our lives.


 

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