Celebrating the Fifth Centenary of Saint Teresa is, above all, setting out to discover that among the ashes of this world, the embers of another possible world still smolder, a world that is much more just and much more humane. Remembering her has the power to make...
Once there existed a woman who lived in a time in which, even more than today, men controlled history, driven by an insatiable thirst for power that led them to confront each other in innumerable wars and exploit innocent peoples. She lived behind the walls of a cloistered convent, and there she received sad news that spoke of confrontations even among those who shared her own religion, persons who died without knowing the God whom she loved.
She touched, in that way, all the pain of the world, she gazed on all the pain of that time while thinking she could do nothing because she was a woman and merely because of that fact, already suspect; because she was barely permitted to pronounce a word; because those who would listen to her would not take her into account, believing she was incompetent.
That woman was called Teresa of Jesus, and on March 28, 2015, five hundred years from her date of birth will be completed. She also knew, just as we do, that history was managed by only a few, but she never believed she was incapable of changing things. That, perhaps, is the principal difference between us and her.
Placed before God, she knew him as Friend and Master, as Living Book in which to understand her own truth and the truth of the world. In Christ, her Beloved, God revealed himself to be concerned about history, concerned about men and women of all times, concerned about her.
Teresa knew that, in giving his life for all, Jesus had marked out a path and was asking her to follow his footsteps and that, walking with Him, she also could contribute to a change in history, to transforming the earthly city into the city of God, to trace upon this world the Kingdom. And she set out upon the way.
She founded small communities of women determined to show the world that love can change the course of history. In them, her daughters lived (and even today live) loving each other, able to renounce everything for others, without imposing themselves, without overcoming the temptation of avarice and exaggerated self preoccupation that ends in causing us to disengage from others, knowing that each man and each woman is a companion on the way whose life is a word which I must respect and listen to.
Celebrating the Fifth Centenary of Saint Teresa is, above all, setting out to discover that among the ashes of this world, the embers of another possible world still smolder, a world that is much more just and much more humane. Remembering her has the power to make you aware of how much you can do to change things, if you decide to change yourself, to choose another life that is simpler and more committed, more in line with the Gospel of Jesus, the Gospel of love.
In that way, we can ensure that the Centenary will not be just a simple “archeological celebration” or a romantic escape to a glorious past which is wistfully longed for, and we will be able to make it a time of renovation and spiritual reactivation, of rejuvenation.
Celebrating this commemoration in this way will help us, from Saint Teresa’s hand, meet the present and future with courage, creativity, and decisiveness, wagering for a world that is more just, more caring, in which every person can discover that he or she is unique and unrepeatable, is loved and is called to be joyful, but who will not come to be that if closed up in oneself and unable to open up to God and others.