When I read in the Gospel “that Mary went in haste to the hill country of Judea” (Lk 1:39) to perform her loving service for her cousin Elizabeth, I imagine her passing by so beautiful, so calm and so majestic, so absorbed in recollection of the Word of God within her. Like Him, her prayer was always this: “Ecce, here I am!” Who? “The servant of the Lord,” (Lk 1:38) the lowliest of His creatures: she, His Mother! Her humility was so real for she was always forgetful, unaware, freed from self. And she could sing: “The Almighty has done great things for me, henceforth all peoples will call me blessed.” (Lk 1:49, 48)
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Last Retreat, Fifteenth Day
You, brother B., and whoever may succeed you as prior, must always keep in mind and put into practice what our Lord said in the Gospel: Whoever has a mind to become a leader among you must make himself servant to the rest, and whichever of you would be first must become your bondsman.
Saint Albert of Jerusalem The Carmelite Rule, No. 22
16 May is the liturgical memorial of Saint Simon Stock, an Englishman who was an early prior general of the Carmelite order who, as far as we can ascertain from the earliest sources, died about 1265 in Bordeaux, France. His relics are venerated at the Carmelite Priory in Aylesford (Kent), England.
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
She is the model of all
who live by the Spirit of the gospel;
As we look up to her in prayer we learn
from her mind to love you above all things,
from her spirit to be rapt in contemplation of your Word, and
from her heart to serve the needs of others.