In Other Times…


Apprehension, unrest, and fear are common in these unpredictable pandemic years. The Saint of Avila, Teresa, points us to a way through these difficulties.

Newsdesk (18/07/2021 2:20, Gaudium Press) One morning, on getting out of bed, one feels one’s strength faltering. A sort of shivering overtakes the body; on placing a hand on the forehead, one senses that the body temperature seems warmer than usual: in fact, the thermometer reads 37.5º, indicating a fever. A short time later, there is no sense of smell. The tasty dish that pleased one so much is no longer delicious: the taste buds are not functioning either. Breathing begins to become labored and difficult: the lungs are straining to supply adequate oxygen to the body. This brings one to the conclusion: “Covid”.

A terrible agitation sets in and one immediately takes certain steps: a call is made to a relative or acquaintance who has already been through this situation, unloading on him a flood of questions regarding the various symptoms and discomfort caused by this virus; one attempts to consult a good doctor as soon as possible, as well as taking the prescribed medication, without neglecting home remedies; one keeps as much distance as possible from other people, isolating oneself in the house and…

Not so long ago, people’s reactions to alarming circumstances such as this were completely different from what we are now experiencing.

History reports that in the 16th century, when Saint Teresa of Avila was only four years old, a terrible plague spread through the whole Iberian Peninsula, affecting many men and women. She learned of her neighbours who, afflicted by the plague, were falling ill one after another.

In Avila, St. Teresa’s native city, the General Council of Castile met to decide the response of the competent authorities in the face of this terrible pandemic; no natural means seemed to solve the problem. The priests, together with the General Council, the magistrates, and the whole population, went in procession together to the church of the city, dedicated to St. Thomas, to implore God to save them from the terrible calamity. Together in the sanctuary, they took the intact Sacred Host from La Guardia – once profaned and stolen but miraculously unharmed – and carried it to the cathedral accompanied by penitential hymns. There, the Divine Body of Our Lord was adored day and night for a week.

St. Teresa comments: “The Lord in His Mercy heeded the fervent supplications of the residents of Avila, for the city was soon cleansed of the disease.” – whereas in the rest of the Peninsula the plague remained for another three years[1].

If it is true that in the present situation the precautions of social distancing, the wearing of masks, and the restrictions surrounding the gathering of people are non-negotiable, it is also true that prayer and assiduous frequenting of the Sacraments, in these pandemic circumstances, should be welcomed by souls brimming with faith and truly guided in the ways of God.

By Guilherme Motta

[1] WALSH, William. Teresa of Avila. Trad. Henrique B. Ruas and José M. de Almeida. Lisbon: Herder, p. 14.

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