God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her
Light of Christ for the whole Chilean Church, Sister Teresa of the Andes, Teresa of Jesus, is the Discalced Carmelite nun and the firstfruit of holiness of the Teresian Carmel of Latin America, who today is incorporated into the number of the Saints of the universal Church.
As we heard in the first reading from the book of Samuel, the figure of Teresa stands out not because of “his appearance or his great stature”. “The Lord sees not as man sees,” the scripture tells us; “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. For this reason, in her young life of just over 19 years, in her 11 months as a Carmelite, God made the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, to shine admirably in her, so that she serves as a beacon and guide with the radiance of the divine to a world that seems to have become blinded.
The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister:
“Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!
To a secularized society that lives with its back turned on God, this Chilean Carmelite, who with lively joy is presented as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, offers the limpid testimony of an existence that proclaims to the men and women of today that loving, adoring, and serving God are the greatness and joy, the freedom and the full realization of the human creature. The life of Blessed Teresa cries quietly from the cloister: “Sólo Dios basta — God alone is enough!”
And she especially cries out to young people, hungry for truth and in search of a light that gives meaning to their lives. To young people who are hounded by continuous messages and stimuli of an eroticized culture, and a society that confuses genuine love, which is giving, with the hedonistic use of the other person, this young virgin of the Andes today proclaims the beauty and bliss that emanate from pure hearts.
A Carmelite never forgets
In her tender love for Christ, Teresa finds the essence of the Christian message: to love, to suffer, to pray, and to serve. In her family, she learned to love God above all things. And in feeling herself to be the exclusive possession of her Creator, her love for her neighbor becomes even more intense and definitive. This is stated in one of her letters: “When I love, it is forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From her small cell, she accompanies the souls that she loved in the world.”
Her enkindled love leads Teresa to desire to suffer with Jesus and like Jesus: “To suffer and love, like the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” she tells us. She wants to be an immaculate host offered in continuous and silent sacrifice for sinners. “We are co-redeemers of the world,” she will say later, “and the redemption of souls is not accomplished without a cross.”
The Carmelite is the priest’s sister
The young Chilean saint was eminently a contemplative soul. For long hours at the tabernacle and before the cross that had a prominent place in her cell, she prays and worships, pleads and atones for the redemption of the world, animating the apostolate of missionaries with the power of the Spirit and, especially, that of priests. “The Carmelite,” she will tell us, “is the priest’s sister.”
However, being contemplative like Mary of Bethany does not exempt Teresa from serving like Martha. In a world where one shamelessly struggles to excel, to possess, and to dominate, she teaches us that happiness is in being the last and the servant of all, following the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of many.
We are co-redeemers of the world
Now, from eternity, Saint Teresa of the Andes continues interceding as an advocate for an endless number of brothers and sisters. She who found her heaven on earth espoused to Jesus, now contemplates him without veils or shadows, and from her immediate closeness, she intercedes for those who seek the light of Christ.
Saint John Paul II
Excerpts from his homily for the Mass of Canonization of Teresa of Jesus of the Andes and Claudine Thévenet
21 March 1993
See more photos from Claudio Quezada’s Flickr album from the Santuario here