Monday, April 11, 2016

St. Teresa of the Andes, Discalced Carmelite Mystic

On April 12, the Church commemorates the feast of St. Teresa of the Andes, a Discalced Carmelite mystic and the first Chilean to be beatified or canonized.  St. Teresa of the Andes is the patron of youth and sick people.

Born in Santiago, Chile on July 13, 1900 to an upper class family, she was baptized Juana Enriqueta Josefina of the Sacred Hearts Fernandez Solar. Her family and friends called her Juanita. Her family was devout in their Catholic faith and lived it out in their daily lives with consistency. Juanita was a cheerful, happy, attractive, extroverted young woman, who was athletic and enjoyed sports. She reflected the light of Christ and her holiness touched all who interacted with her as she witnessed to others the power of God’s love working in her life. She served as a model to her peers, who often sought her out for encouragement and advice.

As a young girl, she read an autobiography of the French Saint Thérèse of Lisieux which had a profound influence on her life, helping her realize that she desired to live for God alone. Her own letters at that time reflect a deep spirituality and a strong devotion to Our Lady. When she was fourteen, Juanita decided to consecrate herself to God as a religious with the Discalced Carmelite Nuns. This desire became reality when she entered the monastery of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns at Los Andes at the age of 19. At that time, she was given the name Teresa of Jesus.  She contracted typhus and died the following year, after taking her final vows. She was beatified by John Paul II on April 3, 1987, at Santiago, Chile, and recommended as a model for youth. St. Teresa of the Andes was canonized on March 21, 1993 in St. Peter's Basilica. An estimated 100,000 pilgrims visit her shrine in Los Andes each year.

Quotes from St. Teresa of Andes

"Christ so foolish in his love, has driven me madly in love.”

"For a Carmelite, death has nothing to be afraid of. She is going to live her true life. She is going to fall into the arms of the one who loved her here on earth beyond all things. She is going to be immersed eternally into love."

"He leaves His angels and millions of people, to come into your soul, to consummate in you the most intimate union, to transform you into God, to nourish in you the life of grace with which you will attain heaven"

"I abyss myself in His magnificence and His wisdom but when I ponder His goodness, my heart can say nothing - I can only Adore."

"How is it that we do not die of love in seeing that God Himself could do no more than shed His divine blood for us drop by drop? When as man He was preparing for death, He made Himself our food in order to give us life. God becomes food, bread for his creatures. Is this not enough to make us die of love?"

“Perfection of life consists in drawing close to God. Heaven is the possession of God. In heaven God is contemplated, adored, loved. But to attain heaven it’s necessary to be detached from what is earthly. What is the life of a Carmelite if not one of contemplating, adoring and loving God incessantly? And she, by being desirous for that heaven, distances herself from the world and tries to detach herself as much as possible from everything earthly.”

“I have surrendered to Him. I made this commitment on the 8th December. It is impossible for me to tell you all I desire. My thoughts concern nothing but Him. He is my ideal, without limit. I breathe for that day I may go to Carmel, when I can busy myself with nothing but Him, to melt into Him and to live naught but His life: to love and to suffer for the salvation of souls. Yes, athirst I am for them because I know that is what my Jesus wants. Oh how much I love Him....”

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