HOLINESS


Christian holiness consists in imitating Christ by living the Gospel in the most perfect way. Nonetheless each saint lives the Gospel in a particular way. What is the proper character of Teresa's holiness? Without trying to be exhaustive let us stress a few points:

Prayer. Juanita understood that prayer was essential to live united with Christ. Since her childhood she used to dedicate time to silent prayer. She tried to constantly live in the presence of God. In her letters she encourages the members of her family and her friends to pray. She was an apostle of prayer. Here are a few statement of Juanita about the importance of prayer:

• "A soul united to Jesus and identified with him can everything. It seems to me that this can be reached only by prayer" (Letter 130).

• "It is in prayer that the soul learns to know Jesus and thus to love him. Since love cannot be satisfied with difference but with equality, the result is union in similarity" (Letter 141).

• "I can say that my life is a continuous prayer, for everything I do I do it out out of love for my Jesus" (Letter 52).

• "God is my heaven here below. I live with him. Even when I am walking, we speak together without being interrupted by anyone. If you would know him enough, you would love him. If you would stay with him for one hour, you would know heaven on earth" (Letter 40).

An intense love for Christ. Christian holiness can be summed up in the love for Christ taking full possession of the soul. Since her childhood Juanita gave her heart to Christ. Her love for Jesus has reached a summit quite extraordinary for such a young girl.

• "What do you want, Lucho: Jesus Christ, this mad of love, made me mad" (Letter 107).

• "To the extent that we know this God made man, we come to love him madly. I would like you to know him in order to be truly in love with him… How not to love this Jesus of our soul? he is uncreated Beauty, eternal Wisdom, Goodness, Life, Love… Oh! Love Jesus. Who can love you better? He thirsts for your heart" (Letter 136).

Sacrifice. Putting the love of Christ above everything else necessarily entails sacrifices. For Juanita sacrifice consisted mainly in renouncing her own will to always prefer the will of God, in forgetting herself to help and serve the others.

• "Isn't love shown in sacrifice? When I think about Jesus' love, then everything I can offer him seems to me so little" (Letter 156).

• "The more we love, the more we need sacrifice and the more we ardently desire it" (Letter 121).

• "We need sacrifice, renouncement to our own will to reach complete union with Our Lord" (Letter 39).

• "I shall foster to work for the happiness of others" (Diary §20).

For Juanita one of the greatest sacrifices of her life was to leave her family she loved so much to follow Christ. See what she writes in letters 73 (to her father) and 81 (to her brother Lucho) at the time of her entrance into Carmel.


Friendship
. Juanita had a very loving heart, very desiring to establish bonds of friendship. Many letters show how much she loved her friends and enjoyed spending time with them. She regularly asked to receive news from them. At the same time she tried to sanctify her friendships, understanding that the grace of God, far from destroying a true human friendship, purifies it and ennobles it.

• "I understand the value of a good friend. I was truly feeling the need to expand myself into someone who understands me and feels what I feel. How much good you did to me!" (Letter 31).

• "Let us thank God to have united our souls by the bond of true friendship, which consists in mutually perfectioning ourselves to get closer to God" (Letter 82).

• "When God's love takes possession of a heart, it transforms it, it makes human love divine, so to speak" (Letter 44).

Joy. Certainly one of the most striking aspects of Teresa's holiness. She had understood that "God is infinite joy". She had the joy of God in her heart and was radiating it through her face and through her letters. Teresa's joy was neither easy nor superficial. It was the fruit of her great love for God, of her total gift of herself to Christ, of the generosity with which she accomplished the will of God and worked hard with the Lord's grace to purify her heart from pride and egoism. In this way Teresa allowed God's joy to overflow in her heart.

• "Who can make me happier than God? In him I find everything" (Letter 81).

• "I am happy and shall never cease to be so because I belong to my God. At every moment I find in him my heaven and an eternal and immutable love. I don't desire anything but him and this love grows in my soul inasmuch I see myself introduced in the the bosom of his divine love and adorable perfections" (Letter 148).

• "It is impossible to imagine how happy I am. I feel peace, so intimate a joy that I tell myself that if people in the world would see this happiness, all would run to shut themselves in convents" (Letter 133).

• "I am the happiest creature in the world. God is infinite joy" (Letter 101).

• "I am the happiest creature. I don't desire anything more because my whole being is satiated by God who is Love" (Letter 110).

See also the story of the miracle approved for Teresa' canonization.

 Print this page