Saint Teresa's Bookmark
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 Avila (with thanks for the recommendation to Don Greco)
Grace and peace to you on this Saturday and the Feast of St. Mark.
As we prepare for another Sunday of worship via Facebook Live and gathering online rather than in person, I (like many of you, I imagine) are wondering when we will return to our customary way of spending Sunday mornings, let alone life in general.
While it is certainly natural and entirely appropriate to ask these questions, I am also aware that as people of hope, we walk by faith and not by sight. Even though we can’t clearly see when we may be able to gather together again, nor what that gathering might look like, we can persevere in this long journey with these words from St. Teresa in mind: “Everything changes. God alone is unchanging.”
Discussions are underway with our Bishop, in consultation with clergy, lay leaders, and experts in public health, to plot the path for a return. There are numerous logistics to consider given the size of varying congregations, average age of our congregants, square footage of churches, availability of cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment, and disparate rates of spread/recovery. There are lots of factors to consider, including theological and sacramental issues, but most importantly the health and safety of all people. Please pray for God’s wisdom to guide us.
The short answer is we don’t know how much longer it will be before we can all gather together to celebrate Holy Eucharist. But in the waiting I hope we can draw comfort from St. Teresa’s reminder, “Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone is enough.” Perhaps making that a prayer we say throughout the day can help get us through each day: “Oh God, I have you so I lack nothing.
I also suggest adding structure and routine to your days wherever possible. Sundays are a great place to start, especially as it relates to “attending” worship. Set a time to “attend” church. We go “live” at 8:00 am, but rather than watching it “whenever” schedule a time on Sunday to watch it. Better yet, consult the whole family—maybe even those outside of your household—and agree on a time for everybody to join in simultaneously. If possible, watch it on the biggest screen you have to increase the sense of being there. Try to make it feel as much like a regular Sunday as possible by showering and dressing like you’re really going to church. Maybe plan a meal either before or after to discuss the readings or the sermon.
We may not know exactly when this time of isolation, suffering, and loss will end, but we definitely know that God is here with us in the midst of it, and will most definitely be here when it ends because nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.