Some Awesome People

Thursday, April 12, 2012

St. Teresa of Los Andes


Feastday: April 12

One needn’t live a long life to leave a deep imprint. Teresa of Los Andes is proof of that.

As a young girl growing up in Santiago, Chile, in the early 1900s, she read an autobiography of a French-born saint—Thérèse, popularly known as the Little Flower. The experience deepened her desire to serve God and clarified the path she would follow. At age 19 she became a Carmelite nun, taking the name of Teresa.

After only a week after she entered the monastery, she wrote: "...I feel divine love in such a way that there are moments when I believe I'm unable to endure it. I want to be a pure host and continually sacrifice myself for priests and sinners." That inner happiness as a Carmelite continued until her premature death. Her wish to "sacrifice myself" was certainly answered in the short time she remained alive, for she underwent immense suffering, not only physically, but interiorly: homesickness, worry for her family, especially her brother, Miguel, doubts concerning faith, spiritual dryness, etc.

The convent offered the simple lifestyle Teresa desired and the joy of living in a community of women completely devoted to God. She focused her days on prayer and sacrifice. “I am God’s,” she wrote in her diary. “He created me and is my beginning and my end.”

Toward the end of her short life, Teresa began an apostolate of letter-writing, sharing her thoughts on the spiritual life with many people. At age 20 she contracted typhus and quickly took her final vows. She died a short time later, during Holy Week.

Teresa remains popular with the estimated 100,000 pilgrims who visit her shrine in Los Andes each year. She is Chile’s first saint.

Teresa possessed an enormous capacity to love and to be loved, joined with extraordinary intelligance. God allowed her to experience his presence. Knowing him, she loved him; and loving him, she bound herself totally to him, even through many interior trials. The Church holds her up as a preeminent model for children and young adults: a real person to whom they can relate.

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