VIDEO MESSAGE FROM HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS «EXCEPTIONAL WOMAN.
FIFTY YEARS OF THE DOCTORATE OF SANIT TERESA DE JESÚS »
[Santa Teresa de Jesús de Ávila Catholic University, April 12-15, 2021]
I greet the participants of the university congress with which the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Teresa of Jesus as Doctor of the Church is commemorated.
The expression "exceptional woman", which gives the title to your meeting, was used by Saint Paul VI  . We are before a person who stood out in many dimensions. However, it should not be forgotten that her recognized relevance in these dimensions is nothing more than the consequence of what was important to her: her encounter with the Lord, her "determined determination", as she says, to persevere in union with Him. through prayer  , her firm intention to carry out the mission that had been entrusted to her by the Lord, to whom she offers herself simply saying, with that simple language and even one would say, even as a peasant: «I am yours, for You I was born, / what do you have me do? » . Teresa of Jesus is exceptional, first of all, because she is holy. Her docility to the Spirit unites her to Christ and she remains "all fired up in the love of God"  . With beautiful words he expresses his experience saying: «I have already given myself and gave, / and in such a way I have exchanged, / who is my Beloved for me, / and I am for my Beloved»  . Jesus had taught that "out of what the heart overflows the mouth speaks" ( Lk 6:45). The audacity, creativity and excellence of Saint Teresa as a reformer are the fruit of the inner presence of the Lord.
We say that we are not living in a time of change, but rather a change of time  . And in this sense, our days have many similarities with those of the 16th century in which the Saint lived. As then, we Christians are now called to continue to renew the face of the earth through us, the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Ps 104,30 Vlg ), in the certainty that in the last term they are the saints who allow the world to advance toward its ultimate goal.
It is good to remember the universal call to holiness of which the Second Vatican Council spoke (cf. LG 39-42). “All Christians, of whatever state or condition, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of love. This sanctity favors, also in earthly society, a more humane lifestyle. To achieve this perfection, believers must use their strength, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, to give themselves totally to the glory and to the service of others "- thus number 40 of the Lumen Gentium -. Holiness is not only for some "specialists of the divine", but it is the vocation of all believers. The union with Christ, which mystics like Saint Teresa experience in a special way by pure grace, we receive through Baptism. The saints stimulate and motivate us, but they are not there for us to literally try to copy them, holiness is not copied, because even that could lead us away from the unique and different path that the Lord has for each one of us. What matters is that each believer discerns his own path  , each of us has his own path of holiness, of meeting the Lord.
In fact, Saint Teresa herself warns her nuns that prayer is not to experience extraordinary things, but to unite ourselves to Christ. And the sign that this union is real are the works of charity. "This is what prayer is for, my daughters," he says in Las Moradas -; this is what this spiritual marriage is for: that works, works are always born " . Already before, in that same book, he had warned: «when I see souls that are very diligent to understand the prayer they have and very hooded when they are in it, it seems that they do not dare to bubble or shake their thought because of taste and devotion that they have had, make me see how little they understand the path through which the union is reached, and they think that the whole business is there. No, sisters, no; works the Lord wants; and if you see a sick woman to whom you can give some relief, do not give yourself anything to lose that devotion and take pity on her ... this is the true union with her will »  . Also in Las Moradas he says this. In short, "what measures the perfection of people is their degree of charity, not the amount of data, accumulated knowledge" , other things like that.
Saint Teresa teaches us that the path that made her an exceptional woman and a person of reference throughout the centuries, the path of prayer, is open to all who humbly open themselves to the action of the Spirit in their lives, and that the sign that we are advancing on that path is to be ever more humble, more attentive to the needs of our brothers, better children of the holy People of God. Such a path is not opened to those who consider themselves to be pure and perfect, the Cathars of all centuries, but to those who, aware of their sins, discover the beauty of God's mercy, who welcomes all, redeems to all, and to all he calls his friendship. It is interesting how the conscience of one's own sinful being is what opens the door to the path of holiness. Saint Teresa, who considered herself very "mean and miserable," This is how he defines himself, recognizes that God's goodness "is greater than all the evils we can do, and he does not remember our ingratitude ... Remember his words and look at what he has done to me," she says, "that first I got tired of offend him, that His Majesty stopped forgiving me. We first get tired of offending God, of walking in strange ways, than God of forgiving us. He never tires of forgiving. We get tired of asking for forgiveness, and therein lies the danger. «The Lord never tires of giving, nor can his mercies be exhausted. Let us not tire of receiving » We first get tired of offending God, of walking in strange ways, than God of forgiving us. He never tires of forgiving. We get tired of asking for forgiveness, and therein lies the danger. «The Lord never tires of giving, nor can his mercies be exhausted. Let us not tire of receiving » We first get tired of offending God, of walking in strange ways, than God of forgiving us. He never tires of forgiving. We get tired of asking for forgiveness, and therein lies the danger. «The Lord never tires of giving, nor can his mercies be exhausted. Let us not tire of receiving » opening the heart with humility. One of his favorite passages of Scripture was the first verse of Psalm 89 of which he made, in a sense, the motto of his life: "I will sing forever the mercies of the Lord." That "mercy" of God.
Prayer made Saint Teresa an exceptional woman, a creative and innovative woman. Through prayer, she discovered the ideal of fraternity that she wanted to make a reality in the convents founded by her: "here all must be friends, all must love each other, all must love each other, all must help each other" . And when I see the "fights" in a convent, within a convent, or the "fights" between convents, "that if I am from here", "that I am from there", "that if I interpret this way", " that if I accept this from the Church, that if I do not accept it ”. The poor nuns forgot about the founder, what she taught them. In prayer she knew that she was treated as a wife and friend by the risen Christ. Through prayer he opened himself to hope. And with this thought I want to end this greeting. We live, as the doctor of the Church, hard times, not easy times that need faithful friends of God, strong friends . The great temptation is to give in to disappointment, resignation, the dire and unfounded omen that everything is going to go wrong. That infertile pessimism, that pessimism of people incapable of giving life. Some people, frightened by these thoughts, tend to shut themselves up, to take refuge in small things. I remember the example of a convent, where all its nuns took refuge in little things. The convent was called Santa ... I will not say who, and it was in that city, but they called it the "Convent little thing, little thing, little thing", because they were all locked up in little things, as a refuge, in selfish projects that do not build the community, rather they destroy it. Instead, prayer opens us, allows us to taste that God is great, that he is beyond the horizon, that God is good, that he loves us and that history has not escaped his hands. We may pass through dark ravines (cf.Ps 23,4), do not be afraid of them if the Lord is with you, but He does not stop walking by our side and leading us to the goal that we all long for: eternal life. We can have the courage to do great things, because we know that we are favored by God  . And together with him, we are capable of reaching any challenge, because in reality only his company is what our heart desires and the one that gives us the fullness and joy of which we have been created. This was summarized by the Saint in a well-known prayer that I invite you to pray frequently:
Nothing disturbs you,
nothing frightens you;
God does not change.
Whoever has God lacks
God alone is sufficient.
May Jesus bless you, and the Virgin and Saint Joseph accompany you. And please don't forget to pray for me. Thanks.
 Homily on the Proclamation of Saint Teresa of Jesus as Doctor of the Church (September 27, 1970).
 Cf. Way of Perfection (Valladolid Codex), 21,2.
 Poesías , 5 (the numbering is cited according to the edition of Editorial de Espiritualidad, Madrid 1994 4 ).
 Cf. Vida , 29,13.
 Poetry , 2.
 Cf. Address to the Roman curia on the occasion of the Christmas greetings (December 21, 2019).
 Cf. Gaudete et exsultate , 11.
 Abodes VII, 4.6.
 Purple V, 3,11.
 Gaudete et exsultate , 37.
 Life , 19.15.
 Path of perfection (Valladolid Codex), 4.7.
 Cf. Vida , 15.5.
 Cf. Vida , 10.6: "it is impossible, according to our nature - in my opinion - to have courage for great things who does not understand that they are favored by God."