Hello everybody. I just got back from vacation and meant to post yesterday, however I was so cooked that I had to post today. What a fitting day to post for a blog authored by a young man discerning a call to the Carmelite Spirituality: today is the feast of St. Teresa of the Andes.
Teresa was born in Santiago, Chile, on July 13, 1900, to a wealthy and aristocratic family. Juanita (her baptismal name) was a special little child with amazing gifts, such as the ability to talk with Jesus and The Blessed Mother, astounding knowledge, spiritual maturity beyond her years, and quite a temper (as did St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Teresa of Avila). She also had a profound sense of humility. However, as we all know, Christ tries those who are close to Himself, as “gold tested in fire.”Juantia had many crosses which included: her long and frequent illnesses, the loss of her family wealth due to her father’s poor economic skill, and the fact that almost no one understood her vocation. Even the sisters at the boarding school she attened were skeptical of her sanctity. These trials served to strengthen Juanita’s vocation and she grew to realize that she was nothing; Christ was her Lord, Master and Spouse, and He was in charge of her and her all. “My resolution was to renounce every comfort, my tastes and even my own will, knowing that I’m a poor slave who possesses nothing, but that God gives me everything (God the Joy of My Life Biography and Diary of St. Teresa of the Andes, Fr. Michael D. Griffin O.C.D. 295).” The more she emptied herself in love of Christ her Spouse, the more He filled her with His grace. Despite her family’s pleading and displeasure, Juanita entered the austere Discalced Carmelite Convent of Los Andes. The date was May 7, 1919, the feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph, and she was a mere 18 years old. She was given the name Teresa of Jesus. However, she spent not even a year in Carmel, her little paradise on earth. In Holy Week of 1920, Teresa came down with Typhoid. She first showed signs of this last illness on Good Friday. During the time between falling ill and her death, Teresa received the last Sacraments with the greatest joy and also was permitted to make her final vows and be fully clothed in the habit of the Order. Teresa died on Monday, April 12, 1919 – three months short of her twentieth birthday.
Teresa – in the eyes of the world – had wasted her gifts, talents, youth, and wealth, by entering a Carmelite Cloister, and living a contemplative life. However, Christ has different eyes. He saw that his littlest spouse was highly exulted. Teresa’s remains are venerated by 100,000 pilgrims a month in the Sanctuary of Auco-Rinconada of Los Andes. She was beatified by now Blessed Pope John Paul II in Santiago, Chile on April 3, 1987. Seven years later, on March 21, 1993, Teresa was canonized by Blessed Pope John Paul II.
So why am I writing so much about this Saint and why is my devotion to this “Littlest Spouse of Christ” so strong? It is because, as Blessed Pope John Paul II said in her canonization homily:
“In a secularized society which turns its back on God, this Chilean Carmelite whom to my great joy I present as a model of perennial youth of the Gospel, gives the shining witness of a life which proclaims to the men and women of our day that it is in loving, adoring, and serving God that the human person finds greatness and joy, freedom and fulfillment. The life of Blessed Teresa cries out from within her cloister ‘God alone suffices (A New Hymn to God Fr. Michael D. Griffin O.C.D. 13).’“
If you wish to learn more about this great Carmelite Saint, seek out the joyful Discalced Carmelite Friar who often sits at the greeting desk at the Basilica of Holy Hill. Fr. Michael D. Griffin O.C.D., is the humblest man I have ever met. He also happens to be a world expert on St. Teresa of the Andes and has authored several books (I have 5 in my personal library) on her cause and her life. He too is a shining example of the Carmelite Life, when lived in total love and service to Christ, The Lord.
St. Teresa of the Andes – Pray for us!!!