the

Who is the Youngest Carmelite Saint? - St. Teresa of the Andes

there are a surprising number of young

female carmelite saints

saint mariam of jesus crucified died in

bethlehem at age 31.

saint elizabeth of the trinity was only

26 when she passed away

in dijon france and most famously

saint therese was the tender age of 24

when she died in lazu however

there is another lesser-known carmelite

saint

who was only 19 years old when she left

this world

to be united with god in heaven saint

teresa of jesus

of the andes over the last few months

i've developed

a new appreciation for this energetic

charming young latin

american saint through her love for

adventure and the outdoors

her contagious joy and her incredible

passion for jesus

she speaks to my heart so i'd like to

take a few minutes

to introduce you to her

this year marks the 100th anniversary of

her death

so i believe that saint theresa of the

andes has something powerful to say to

us

here and now especially to the young

people of today

you would think that there wouldn't be

much to say about a life so brief

but saint teresa's 19 years were more

vibrant and full

than the lives of many people who lived

to be three or four times that age

and yet her life was also shockingly

ordinary

she was born wanna or juanita

on july 13 1900 in santiago chile

she was raised in a loving faithful

family

growing up with two sisters and three

brothers

like you and i juanita was not born a

saint

her diary reveals that from a fairly

young age

she struggled with vanity she was a

beautiful young woman and had to fight

the temptation

to enjoy the fact that others admired

her physical appearance

as a girl she was also extremely

passionate and strong-willed

being overwhelmed by fits of anger when

she did not get her way

many saints have radical moments of

conversion that completely changed their

lives

but i think that juanita was more like

most of us

she grew in virtue slowly by saying yes

to god's grace

in little ways in her life day in and

day out

juanita was strongly influenced by

reading the writings of saint therese

who died just three years before her

birth

and saint elizabeth of the trinity who

died when she was only three years old

little did she know that halfway across

the world from those young carmelite

saints in france

she would so closely follow in their

footsteps

one thing that i find attractive about

st teresa's life

was her adventurous spirit and great

love for the outdoors

she enjoyed riding horses and searched

for waterfalls

swimming in the ocean and playing tennis

with her friends

in one of her letters when she was 18

years old she recalls hiking by a serene

river

as she was praising god for the beauty

of his creation

she heard a startling noise beneath her

and looked down

to realize that she had stepped on a

snake

she wrote that she released a scream so

great

that she doesn't think one like it has

ever come from the

human mouth and she ran away in a panic

juanita loved the beautiful chilean

mountains

and was able to find intimacy with god

in the beauty of nature

juanita was also a young woman of deep

meaningful relationships

she had a particular love for her

younger sister rebecca

who would later become a carmelite nun

herself after juanita's death

she also had a special love for her

parents even though it wasn't always

easy for her

she wrote some beautiful letters to her

father imploring him to strengthen his

relationship with god

and begging him to share his loneliness

and suffering with her

so that she could pray for him juanita

also had a close

yet unique relationship with her older

brother luis

who had stopped believing in god

she continued writing to him throughout

her life patiently

and tactfully drawing him closer to god

through her great love

he would eventually return to the faith

after her death

and would attribute his conversion to

her miraculous intercession

besides her family juanita also had many

close friends

she loved spending time with them at

school or on outdoor adventures

or singing and playing the piano

she wrote what she called newsy letters

to her friends

even from carmel she was a young woman

of meaningful relationships

who was always concerned about how her

beloved friends were doing

she had a great capacity to meet people

where they were at

writing to some friends about the

heights of mystical union with god

and to others about more mundane matters

simply encouraging them to make a little

time for prayer and for mass

in the midst of her busy life of family

friends in school

juanita still found time to serve others

by volunteering at our church

and caring for the poor she also devoted

herself to a life of deep prayer

despite the many responsibilities of her

life before entering carmel

she shows us that we don't have to live

in a monastery to commit ourselves to

daily prayer

and to find profound intimacy with god

she wrote when a soul truly loves

and this we see even in human love she

wants only to be

with the loved one gazing always upon

the beloved

sharing the intimacy of her heart being

drawn ever closer and closer

saint teresa of the andes is a witness

that god is offering the young people

of today powerful graces and prayer to

transform them

into the holy men and women that are so

much needed

in our troubled world

after answering god's call to become a

carmelite nun at age 18

receiving the name teresa of jesus after

the carmelite foundress

teresa of avila she would die only 11

months later

she lived a short 19 years and nine

months

19 years and nine months filled to the

brim

with faith love and joy

more than anything it was her

exceptional joy that is the most

incredible characteristic of her life

her meaningful relationships her service

to others

her carmelite vocation and eventually

her illness

and death were marked with a contagious

joy

in one letter to her sister not long

before she entered carmel

she explains how she had become famous

for her fits of laughter

she recalls somewhat embarrassed that

once the priest

who was saying the grace after the meal

had to stop his prayer halfway through

because he had been infected with her

laughter

i believe that this is the message that

saint teresa of the andes has for us

today

our world is so overwhelmed with despair

fear anger and deep suffering

young people today struggle to build

meaningful relationships

to feel loved and connected and to find

meaning in their lives

saint teresa of the andes shows us that

when we give ourselves completely

over to god's love all things become joy

this doesn't always take away the pain

but it gives us the perspective to see

that god is somehow working through it

all in his great love for us

this is a message that we truly need to

hear

saint teresa of jesus of the andes pray

for us