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Crossroads of the Marine Corps

God alone suffices

8 Sep 2016 | Lt. Curtiss P. Dwyer, CHC, USN; Command Chaplain – The Basic School Marine Corps Base Quantico

After she died, this was found in the prayer book of Saint Teresa of Avila, a Spanish nun who lived in the 16th century:

Let nothing disturb you.

Let nothing frighten you.

All things are passing:

God never changes.

Patience obtains all things.

Whoever has God lacks nothing.

God alone suffices.

God alone suffices. In her native Spanish, “Solo Dios Basta.”

We modern Americans are chronically busy – which is not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, and much better than idleness. Action, motion, is good insofar as it constitutes progress toward goodness, or God-ness. But it can also replace God. The results are predictable.

So much of what takes up our time is ultimately empty. Our perpetual motion doesn’t add up to anything that satisfies, has meaning, or stands the test of time. We’re plenty stimulated, but not fulfilled. Busyness plus lack-of-meaning becomes burnout. Running from one thing to another, we skim the surface – of relationships, work, life – and can feel lonely at the end of our hectic days. Marriages become, and begin to feel, merely ‘functional’ – and then dysfunctional. We run hither and thither, and even our recreation leaves us more exhausted. “Dissipation” is the word: the scattering of our selves among our activities, minor addictions, distractions.

Teresa was a dynamo. She reformed her religious order, authored books that stand today as masterpieces of the spiritual life, travelled constantly (in an era in which travel was long, dangerous and hard), and never slowed down. She had to remind herself, “God alone suffices.”

It isn’t the busyness, per se, which gets us: It’s the lack of authentic source. It’s about the connection between activity and our deepest selves, where we hear the authentic Voice of God. Not hearing God, we listen to our emptiness and attempt fulfillment by constant motion and self-assertion. But only God satisfies.

By referring everything we do to God, we are letting our activity come from Him. Over time, we become peaceful people of deep, gentle and meaningful application. Our lives heal, become beautiful, make mysterious sense and come into focus. Life isn’t easy, but it begins to project goodness as we find what we’ve chased in vain.

Let nothing disturb you…Only God satisfies.
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