Women can symbolize today’s civilization. In magazines and movie screens, in advertising and art, they reign like queens. Yet it is easy to see their royalty as artificial: divas who hold court today are forgotten tomorrow.
In contrast, from this perspective the biographies of Christianity’s greatest female saints and their teachings once again become current.
Teresa, the reformer of Carmel during the Protestant revolution, under the suspicious gaze of the kings and lords of Spain, faced with the threat of the Inquisition in her country, achieved her freedom through poverty. It is the unique freedom of God’s children.
She remade her existence into an eminent adventure to overcome human with divine. She brought beauty, the poetry of holiness, back to the center of our individual and social existence.
At the time there was a form of self-righteousness that you might just as well have called misogyny. Catherine of Siena had already suffered it and had been silenced because she was a woman – she who never stopped urging men, including the high and mighty, to not behave like little girls.
St. Teresa gave herself entirely to God and inspired other women to do so.
The obsession of our modern days lies in a continuous, frenetic demand for recognition and riches. Teresa taught us to free ourselves from this slavery and recover our serenity and peace.
In her writings she explains her reasons with evidence, a light that enchants souls – even those of men today who are in the clutches of business. She is a strong woman who speaks only to serve God with energy and perseverance.
She knew of the influence that a woman consecrated to God can have on society. Her life and writings demonstrate the essence of the Gospel revolution, in our hearts and in the people, uncovering yet again the essentials of love that, through our neighbors, opens access to God. It puts God in the spirit, in the law, in institutions, in customs. Teresa, with the grace of a mother and teacher, taught to speak continuously with God, a conversation that everyone can carry out within the temple of their souls, even while on the road, even surrounded by noise.
I believe that day after day the number of women and men who are guided by Teresa’s wisdom will increase. They will rediscover their reason for being, going back with her to the source. Action will blossom more and more from contemplation.
Yet here – we could say with the saint – Martha and Mary almost always align, since the interior works on the exterior … When exterior works come from these roots, there are admirable, sweetly scented flowers that blossom from the tree of divine love.
Teresa was a courageous astronaut of the divine, as well as also a practical woman who knew the world. And because she knew the world, she stood out in heaven.
If her teachings were to expand even to our own homes, unions, politics, factories and the world, it would become a sort of Carmel, where Teresa took on the feminine royalty of she who was blessed among women.
Igino Giordani, Fides, n.7–12, 1962, pp.185–187.