Homily of beatification of Teresa de los Andes

Teresa de Los Andes was beatified by John Paul II on April 3, 1987, in O'Higgins Park in Santiago in the presence of one million people. The pope presided the mass which was concelebrated by all the bishops of Chile and 400 priests. We give here below the first part of the homily dedicated to Teresa de Los Andes.

1. "There are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 12:13).

These words of St Paul, with which he culminates his "Hymn to Charity", resound with new tones in this Eucharistic Celebration.

Yes, "the greatest of these is love".

Such are the words brought to life by Sister Teresa of Los Andes, whom today I have the grace and joy to proclaim Blessed. Today, my dear brothers and sisters of Santiago and of all Chile, is a great day in the life of your Church and nation.

A most beloved daughter of the Chilean Church, Sr Teresa is raised to the glory of the altar on the country that gave her birth. In her, God's pilgrim people find a guide in their journey towards the heavenly Jerusalem.

Moved by faith, hope and love, we walk as pilgrims towards God who is Love, and our souls are filled with joy as we discover that this spiritual pilgrimage has its crown in glory, to which Christ Our Lord wants to lead all of us.

At the beginning we heard a brief biographical profile of Sister Teresa of Los Andes, a young Chilean girl, symbol of the faith and goodness of this people; a Discalced Carmelite, captivated by the heavenly Kingdom in the springtime of her life; the first fruits of the holiness of the Teresian Carmelites in Latin America.

In her brief autobiographical writings, she has left us the witness of a simple and attainable holiness, centred on the core of the Gospel: love, suffer, pray and serve.

The secret of her life completely directed towards holiness is summarized in familiarity with Christ, as a friend who is constantly present, and with the Virgin Mary, a close and loving Mother.

2. Ever since she was a child, Teresa of Los Andes experienced the grace of communion with Christ, which developed within her with the charm of her youth, full of vitality and cheerfulness, never lacking a sense of healthy amusement and play, and contact with nature, just as a true daughter of her time. She was a happy and dynamic young girl, open to God. And God made Christian love blossom in her, an open love, profoundly sensitive to the problems of her country and the aspirations of the Church.

The secret of her perfection could be none other than love: a great love for Christ, who fascinates her and moves her to consecrate herself to him forever, and to participate in the mystery of his passion and resurrection. At the same time she feels a filial love for the Virgin Mary, who draws her to imitate her virtues.

For her, God is infinite joy. This is the new hymn of Christian love which rises spontaneously from the soul of this young Chilean girl, in whose glorified face we can sense the grace of her transformation in Christ, in virtue of an understanding, serving, humble and patient love, a love which does not destroy human values, but rather elevates and transfigures them.

Yes, as Teresa of Los Andes says: "Jesus is our infinite happiness". That is why this new Blessed is a model of the Gospel life for the young people of Chile. Teresa, who heroically practiced the Christian virtues, spent the years of her adolescence and youth in the normal environment of a young girl of her time: in her daily life, she showed her piety in collaborating with the Church as a catechist, at school, with her friends, in the works of mercy, and in the times of rest and recreation. Her exemplary life evidenced a Christian humanism with the unmistakable seal of a lively intelligence, an agile delicacy, and the creative capacity typical of the Chilean people. I her we see an expression of the soul and character of your country as well as the perennial youth of Christ's Gospel which enthused and attracted Sister Teresa of Los Andes.

3. Today, the Church proclaims Sister Teresa of Los Andes Blessed, and from this day on, venerates and invokes her with this title.

Blessed, joyful, happy is the person who has made the evangelical beatitudes the centre of his life, and who has lived them with heroic intensity.

In this way our new Blessed, having put the beatitudes into practice, incarnated in her life the most perfect example of holiness, which is Christ himself.

In effect, Teresa of Los Andes irradiates the joy of those who are poor in spirit, meek and humble of heart, of those who suffer in silence, for this is how God purifies and sanctifies his chosen ones. She hungers and thirsts for justice, she loves God intensely and wants him to be loved and known by all. In her complete immolation, God made her have compassion for priests and for the conversion of sinners; peaceful and reconciling, she sows understanding and dialogue all around her. Above all, her life reflects the beatitude of purity of heart. In effect, she surrendered her life totally to Christ and Jesus opened her eyes to the contemplation of his mystery.

What is more, God allowed her here on earth to experience the joy and happiness of union with God in the service of our neighbour.

This is her message: only in God can one find happiness; God alone is infinite joy. Young ladies of Chile, girls of Latin America, discover in Sister Teresa the joy of living the Christian faith to its ultimate consequences! Take her as your model!

John Paul II