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St. Teresa of Avila: Alone God Suffices

Happy Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin and Doctor!

Let nothing disturb you, nothing affright you; All things are

passing; God never changes;

Patient endurance attains all things;

Whoever has God lacks nothing.

Alone God suffices.

-Prayer by St. Teresa of Avila

To meditate on the lives and teachings of the saints is always timely, and St. Teresa’s famous prayer is particularly well suited for our own time, filled as it is with seemingly innumerable reasons for anxiety and fear. But in this simple, beautiful prayer, this great Doctor of the Church has something of rich depth to teach us, yet something that is utterly practical.

The Christian Tradition has always looked to the martyrs as exemplars par excellence of the life of Christian virtue because that they have so perfectly imitated Christ’s life. Accordingly, St. Teresa thought of the religious life and the pursuit of Christian virtue lived by those who want “to be among God’s closest friends” as “one long martyrdom” (The Way of Perfection, Ch. 12). The virtues central to this endeavor in the mind of Terese, are contained in this prayer. “Let nothing disturb you, nothing affright you” speaks of the virtue of fortitude. “All things are passing, God never changes” speaks of the virtues of humility and detachment which Teresa considered “sovereign” among the virtues (ibid., Ch. 10). “Patient endurance” speaks literally of the virtue of patience but also its twin sister, perseverance. And where are all these virtues leading but one place, charity, the form and perfection of all virtues that attains to unity with God and everlasting happiness: “whoever has God lacks nothing, Alone God suffices.”

St. Teresa, great exemplar and teacher of Christian virtue, pray for us that we too, might be enflamed by the Holy Spirit and be found “forever imitating the Captain of Love, Jesus” (ibid., Ch. 6) so as to draw others closer to Him, and one day be bound eternally in the fervent love of our Triune God.

Your servant in Christ,

Tony

One thought on “St. Teresa of Avila: Alone God Suffices

  1. This little prayer was one of my mom’s favorite prayers, and she taught it to my sister and I, only in Spanish!

    Thanks, Tony, for explaining to us how the virtues are contained in this prayer!

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