Christ Has No Body But Yours: Teresa of Avila


Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world
Christ now has no body on earth but yours
Teresa of Avila
Mystic 1
Postscript: In April 2013 a concerned blogger wrote asking if I could pinpoint this saying as definitely having come from Teresa, as he had been searching and could not find it anywhere. His problem was with the heresy of being asked to say this in church. I replied, saying that the above can be fully understood when viewed as mystical literature and is not heretical in that understanding.  However, it still bothered him and he has come up with the origin of this piece and I thought it would be nice to include its true origins that he has researched.  It appears that although it is attributed to Teresa, it is not in fact hers, and so I am copying the origins below. His concerns for heresy have been answered by his determination!  Stephanie
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From:   http://mimuspolyglottos.blogspot.com/2011/11/whose-hands-another-possible-case-of.html

“[T]he work is principally by two authors: Methodist minister Mark Guy Pearse (1842-1930), and Quaker medical missionary Sarah Elizabeth Rowntree (dates unknown.) But the poem circulates in various versions which also show minor adjustments by others.

 In my present reconstruction (which may change as I gain additional information) the Rev. Mr. Pearse is responsible for the second half of the poem. He spoke as follows in a sermon delivered on January 3rd, 1888, in Steinway Hall, Portman Square, London:

“Now you, my brothers and sisters, are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out upon this world, and yours are the lips through which His love is to speak; yours are the hands with which He is to bless men, and yours the feet with which He is to go about doing good–through His Church, which is His body.” Evangelical Christendom, v. 42, February 1st, 1888, p. 46

Pearse cites no sources for his words other than, of course, the Bible.
A few years later Sarah Elizabeth Rowntree used Mr. Pearse’s words, which she acknowledged to be his, and to which she added the first  half of the poem. Here is the report from the Quaker periodical The British Friend:

Sarah Eliza Rowntree gave an interesting account of the recent establishment of the “Home” in Pearl Street, and the progress of the Mission there. She appealed for more workers to assist its further usefulness, concluding with some words of Mark Guy Pearse, “Remember Christ has no human body now upon the earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours, my brothers and sisters, are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion has to look upon the world, and yours are the lips with which His love has to speak. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless men now, and yours the feet with which He is to go about doing good through His Church which is His body.”The British Friend, volume 1, number 1, 1892, p. 15″

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Of course it would serve us well to remember that Quakers do not speak unless they feel guided to by Holy Spirit, that is their philosophy…so although the source is not Teresa, we may acknowledge that it does indeed come from the teacher, the comforter, the one whom Christ sent to be with us. It stands as mystical literature, understood for its truth of meaning in contemplative revelation.
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One thought on “Christ Has No Body But Yours: Teresa of Avila

  1. Another Saint whose writings I really must read.

    I’m having one of those reading situations where there’s too many books and not enough hours in the day at the moment.

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