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St. Teresa of the Andes Leads Us to Christ

By Susan Ciancio

On July 13, we celebrate the first Chilean to be canonized a saint. St. Teresa of the Andes was born in Chile in 1900, and from a young age, she knew she wanted to serve God as a Carmelite nun. She entered a Carmelite monastery when she was 19 and took her vows—and the name Teresa—soon after. Always a sickly young woman, Teresa died less than a year later. But she had made a lasting impact on those around her—and now on the world.

Her mission, she said, was to make God known and loved. And her vision for those living in the Carmelite order was that life should consist of three things: “to love; to suffer; and to pray for the conversion of sinners, the sanctification of priests, and for the Church.”

As we reflect on her short life and on her love of God and devotion to the faith, let us think about how we can implement her vision for the Carmelite order in our lives.

1. To love

Thomas Aquinas taught that loving someone means wanting what is best for them—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It is our responsibility as parents and as husbands or wives to help our children and spouses reach heaven. What does that look like on a daily basis? It means we teach them about God, we pray together, we live our faith, and we serve as holy examples.

To that end, let us think about the ways we can help our family grow closer to God. We can read holy books, we can watch films with pro-life themes, and we can partake in works of service to help others. Living a faith-filled life teaches them to do the same.

2. To suffer

Nobody wants to suffer, but we all suffer in many ways throughout our days—in ways small and large and everything in between. When we suffer, we can allow that suffering to help others by offering it up for our friends or family or for a soul in purgatory. Teaching our children that our suffering has value for others will help them be more joyful when things don’t go their way, when they are sick, or when something bad happens.

3. To pray

In addition to the prayers of petition for those we know and to the prayers of thanks we give for our blessings, St. Teresa teaches that we should pray for the conversion of sinners, the sanctification of priests, and for the Church. These are petitions we may not often think of in our daily prayers. So often we focus on those we know, but let us remember these three intentions, especially the souls of sinners, who desperately need our prayers to return to Christ. We can even offer up our sufferings for them.

In her diary, Teresa once wrote, “I am God’s. . . . He created me and is my beginning and my end.”

God should be our primary focus. Loving and serving Him in all that we do will lead us to eternity with Him. Let us use St. Teresa’s holy example to grow closer to God and to lead others to Him.