Service, Covid-19 and Contemplation
Fr Simon writes:
I received an email today from the Centre for Action and Contemplation, which is led by Fr Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest. One of the articles included in the email was about Teresa of Ávila, for whom I have a great fondness. Fr Richard spoke very helpfully to the situation we are all in at this present time, so I offer them to you for your reflection. Here are Fr Richard's words:
As of today, like many of you, I have been in self-isolation for several weeks… my prayers are with the innumerable people who are ill with COVID-19 and so many who are grieving loved ones who have died.
My heart is heavy for the health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers who continue to put themselves at risk every day.
I’m also concerned about the many people now facing financial challenges, or whose marginalization has only been made worse by the virus. This type of prayer leads us to experience solidarity with the suffering.
St. Teresa of Ávila icon © Cecilia Lawrence
For all the helpers, including people like yourselves who are doing what you can to meet the needs of loved ones and those who are suffering, I offer this excerpt of a prayer from my friend Mirabai Starr, who is a translator of Teresa of Ávila’s works:
You [Teresa] lived that beautiful balance
Between active service
And quiet contemplation.
Teach us to be of use in this troubled world
At the same time that we cultivate
With the Beloved who lives inside us.
(from Mirabai Starr, Saint Teresa of Ávila: Passionate Mystic (Sounds True: 2013), vii.)
Teresa was canonized (declared a saint) in 1622 and named the first woman Doctor of the Church in 1970. A Doctor of the Church is someone whose teaching can be trusted… One of Teresa’s most famous teachings is a poem known as “Teresa’s Bookmark” that was found in her own prayer book after her death:
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing upset you.
God alone is unchanging.
With patience all things are possible.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.
(Teresa of Ávila, “Nada te turbe,” from Starr, Passionate Mystic, 24)
I hope Teresa’s words will bring you some comfort in this challenging time.
Adapted from Richard Rohr,
Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate . . . Seeing God in All Things
(Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010)