Let Nothing Disturb You

Wisdom from Carmel regarding the latest news from Rome

Hello everyone,

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Today in a Nutshell

Let’s address the proverbial elephant in the room: today, as many expected, Pope Francis released his new motu proprio on the traditional Latin Mass, creating far more restrictions than before, and sending a shockwave through the Roman Catholic Church. In time, I will write a full analysis on this document and its accompanying letter. I wish I could tell you that I saw the news, read the document, and spent the rest of day in solemn prayer and ascetical exercises. Unfortunately, I didn’t. In lieu of a proper analysis, allow me to just speak candidly and openly about how my day went.

I woke up at 6:10 a.m. and immediately took a shower. Because my wife works remotely, I need to watch our 3 month-old daughter during the day. It’s the summer, meaning I do not have to go to the university to teach, and I’m on my own in terms of research and preparation for my doctoral program. Usually, or at least ideally, I get ready quickly, and head to the living room where I am surrounded by a crucifix, my smartphone, a candle or two, a TV remote, an Xbox controller, my laptop, my tablet, and a few books. Even though our daughter is only 3 months, I try to start our mornings with prayer. As she is hungry upon waking, I need to fix her a bottle. As she eats, I pray (we’re still working on the blessing before meals).

However, today, I made the foolish mistake of checking my phone before prayer. And, at the early hour of 6:30 a.m., I saw news of Pope Francis’ motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, and immediately went on the Vatican website to read it. After a quick read, I decided to go back to my normal routine, until I saw other news about his accompanying letter to the motu proprio, which he addressed to the bishops of the world. I then logged onto Twitter and Facebook to see what others had to say about it, and, let’s just say that I never ended up praying this morning.

Or midday.

Or evening.

In fact, I think the first thing that came forth from my lips that could be considered prayer was a thanksgiving to Almighty God when my daughter fell asleep. I proceeded to follow up that thanksgiving with more time spent on the Internet, reading the motu proprio, reading about the motu proprio, reading about other people’s readings about the motu proprio, and so on. I was on Twitter and Facebook for a large majority of the day. I was, as you might say, “doomscrolling”. The more I scrolled, the more I glanced, the more anxious and angry I felt. Again, I’m not going to go into the details about this document and its spirit, but let’s just say, I did not sanctify my day very well. By the time my wife was finished and I could focus on my own work, I simply could not do so. I felt burnt out.

I am tempted to offer a hot-take or hard analysis on the motu proprio, but I think it is best if I wait. Our current culture is one of instant gratification and hits of dopamine. I was inspired by Mr. Gregory DiPippo at the blog, New Liturgical Movement (one of my favorites, which I read daily), who said that his own commentary “will be issued later today, after prayer, a good long walk, and a lot of coffee.” I lacked all three of those things today, and it showed.

The grace of today was when my wife, seeing how distracted and frustrated I was, told me to put my phone down and spend time playing with our daughter. Yes, the Church has issues, yes, the motu proprio was extremely disheartening, yes, the gloating from liberals and lecturing from moderates on “holy obedience” made my blood pressure spike, but at the end of the day, what is truly important—that is, where I will be sanctified in the here and now—is my wife and daughter. May the LORD help me always keep that at the front of my mind.

And so, no commentary from me today on Traditionis Custodes. I will take the weekend to read, reflect, and yes— pray! But if you are struggling with that last one, you are not alone. Ironically enough, before I put down the phone for the day, I saw a post about Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whose feast the Church celebrates today. Seeing that reminded me of one of my favorite saints, whose writings on prayer and the spiritual life were transformative to me: St. Teresa of Avila (1515 - 1582)

Following her death, the nuns found a bookmark in her breviary. It was old and worn, like most things in her possession. On the bookmark was the following (in Spanish, her native tongue):

In English:

Let nothing trouble you,

nothing frighten you.

All things are passing;

God never changes.

Patient endurance attains all things.

Whoever possesses God lacks nothing:

God alone suffices.

-

There is a beautiful musical rendition of this prayer. In light of today’s news, and whatever may be on your heart, I encourage you to pray it with me tonight.

Thank you for subscribing to the Roman Orthodoxy Substack, and stay tuned for next week’s more substantial post, in which I cover the motu proprio and some of the aspects of Roman Orthodoxy that will hopefully be exciting for you.