Light of Christ for all the Church in Chile: this is Sister Teresa of the Andes, Teresa de Jesús, a Discalced Carmelite nun and the first fruits of holiness of the Teresian Carmel in Latin America, who today is incorporated into the number of the Saints of the universal Church.
As in the first reading we heard from the book of Samuel, the figure of Teresa stands out not because of “her appearance or on the height of her stature”. “The Lord does not see as mortals see” — the sacred scriptures tell us — “they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. Therefore, in her young life of little more than nineteen years, in her eleven months as a Carmelite nun, God made the light of his Son Jesus Christ shine in her in an admirable way, so that she might serve as a beacon and guide to a world that seems to be blinded by the splendor of the divine. To a secularized society that lives with its back turned to God, this Chilean Carmelite, whom I joyfully present as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, offers the clear testimony of an existence that proclaims to the men and women of today that in loving, adoring and serving God are found the greatness and joy, the freedom and full realization of the human creature. The life of Blessed Teresa cries out quietly from the cloister: Sólo Dios basta! “God alone is enough”.
And she shouts this especially to young people, hungry for truth and in search of a light that gives meaning to their lives. To the youth who are solicited by constant messages and stimuli from an eroticized culture, and to a society that confuses genuine love, which is self-giving, with the hedonistic use of the other, this young virgin of the Andes proclaims today the beauty and beatitude that emanates from pure hearts.
In her tender love for Christ, Teresa found the essence of the Christian message: to love, suffer, pray, and serve. In the heart of her family, she learned to love God above all things. And feeling herself to be the exclusive possession of her Creator, her love for her neighbor becomes even more intense and definitive. This is what she affirms in one of her letters: “When I love, it’s forever. A Carmelite never forgets. From her small cell she accompanies the souls she loved in the world”.
Her burning love leads Teresa to desire to suffer with Jesus and like Jesus: “To suffer and to love, like the Lamb of God who bears 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 said later, “and the redemption of souls cannot be accomplished without the cross.”
The young Chilean Saint was eminently a contemplative soul. During long hours at the tabernacle and before the cross that presided over her cell, she prayed and adored, she pleaded and atoned for the redemption of the world, animating with the power of the Spirit the apostolate of the missionaries and, especially, that of the priests. “The Carmelite nun”, she would say to us, “is the sister of the priest”. However, being a contemplative like Mary of Bethany does not exempt Teresa from serving like Martha. In a world where there is a relentless struggle to excel, possess, and dominate, she teaches us that happiness lies in being the last and the servant of all, following the example of Jesus, who did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life for the redemption of the many.
Now, from eternity, St. Teresa of the Andes continues to intercede as an advocate for countless brothers and sisters. She who found her heaven on earth betrothing Jesus, now contemplates him without veils or shadows, and from her immediate closeness intercedes for those who seek the light of Christ.
Here is the Lenten message of today’s canonization: Christ is the light of the world!
Those who follow him “shall have the light of life.”
Saint John Paul II
Canonization of Teresa de Jesús de los Andes
Sunday, 21 March 1993
Translation from the Spanish text is the blogger’s own work product and may not be reproduced without permission.