Teresa of the Andes and her Carmelite vocation
Juanita Solar Fernandez, is born in Santiago, Chile, July 13, 1900. With cheerful character, simplicity, and readiness to serve and sacrifice herself for others she says to us: “God is infinite joy and he communicates it to us”. Enamored with Jesus Christ she enters to the Carmel of the Andes at the age of 19. Thence she unfolds an abundant correspondence, attracting all to Jesus, “that crazy of Love has made me crazy”. She dies the 12th of April of 1920, leaving between her sisters a track of holiness.
Only in GOD I have found eternal love
Santiago, March 25, 1919
My very dear Daddy:
Only yesterday we arrived at Bucalemu, after spending some very delightful days with those very affectionate uncles of ours. Still, as I told you in my last letter, the days we spent at your side have a special place of preference.
For a long time, Daddy, I’ve been wanting to confide to you a secret, which I’ve kept in the deepest recesses of my soul my whole life long. But, I don’t know what fear burdened down on my soul when I wanted to confide this to you. So, I’ve always been very reserved with everyone about it. But now I want to confide the secret to you with full confidence that you’ll keep it with the greatest care.
I wanted to be happy and searched for happiness everywhere. I dreamed of being very rich, but I saw that over night rich people can become poor. And even if at times it doesn’t happen, one sees that on the one hand riches abound, and on the other hand, people are overwhelmed by poverty of affection and unity. I’ve thought of happiness in the affection of a perfect young man, but the very idea that some day he might love me with less enthusiasm or that he could die, leaving me alone in the struggles of life, makes me reject the idea that by marrying I’ll be happy. No. This doesn’t satisfy me. For me, happiness is not found there. Where, then, I ask myself, is it to be found? Then I understood that I hadn’t been born for earthly things but for eternal ones. Why go on denying this fact any longer? Only in God has my heart found its rest. With God my soul found itself fully satisfied, so that I desire nothing in this world but to belong to Him completely.
Oh, Daddy darling: the great favor God has given me is not hidden from my soul. I am the least worthy of His daughters, yet God’s Infinite Love has crossed the immense abyss existing between Himself and His poor creature. He has come down to me and elevated me to the dignity of being His bride. Who am I, but a poor creature? Yet He has not looked at my misery. In His Infinite Goodness and despite my lowliness, He has loved me infinitely. Yes, Daddy, only in GOD have I found eternal love. How can I please God? How can I repay Him, if not with love? Who can love me more than Our Lord who is infinite and immutable? You, Daddy, will ask me how long I’ve been thinking of all this. And I will tell you everything so that you may see that no one has influenced me.
From the time I was a little girl, I really loved the Most Holy Virgin, to whom I confided all my dealings. Only to Her did I unburden myself, and I never underwent a joy that I didn’t reveal to her. She responded to that love. She protected me and listened to everything I asked her. And she taught me to love Our Lord. She placed the seed of a vocation in my soul. But still, without my understanding the grace she was granting me and without my even worrying about it, I had a little flirtation and amused myself as much as I could. But when I came down with a case of appendicitis and saw myself very sick, I began thinking about what life was all about; and one day when I was alone in my room, weary of staying in bed, I heard the voice of the Sacred Heart asking me if I belonged entirely to Him. I don’t think it was an illusion, because at that instant I saw myself transformed. Till then I had been searching for the love of creatures, and now I desired God alone. Illumined by grace from on high, I understood that the world was too small for my immortal soul; and that only with the Infinite could my desires be satisfied, because the world and all that’s in it is limited, whereas, by belonging to God, my soul would never tire of loving and contemplating Him, because in Him the horizons are infinite.
How can I doubt my vocation then, when, even though I was gravely ill and at the point of death, I had no doubt whatsoever or did I want anything else? As you can see, Daddy, no one influenced me, since I never told this to any one else and always strove to keep it a secret.
I don’t know how I can thank Our Lord as I should for such a great favor, because since He’s all powerful, omnipotent, He has no need of anyone; yet, He concerns Himself with loving and choosing me to make me His bride. Imagine to what dignity He is raising me: to be the bride of the King of heaven and earth, the Lord of lords. Oh, Papa, how can I repay Him! Moreover, He’s taking me from the world, where there are so many dangers for a soul, where the waters of corruption all await her, to take me to dwell with Him in the tabernacle where He lives. If to grant me such a great good, an enemy were to call me, would that not be reason to follow immediately? Now it’s no enemy but our greatest Friend and Benefactor. It is God Himself who deigned to ask me to give myself to Him. How can I not hasten to make the complete offering of myself so as not to keep Him waiting. Daddy, I’ve already given myself over to Him, and I’m prepared to follow Him wherever He wants. Can I allow myself to be distrustful and fearful when He’s the Way, the Truth and the Life?
In every sense, my dear Daddy, I depend on you. So it’s necessary, that you give your consent, too. I know perfectly well that if you allowed Lucia to marry Chiro, for your heart is so generous, should I doubt that you’ll give me your consent to belong to God, since by that “yes” from your paternal heart a fountain of happiness will gush out for your poor daughter? No. I know you. You are incapable of refusing me this, because I know that you’ve never refused to make any sacrifice for your children. I know how much it will cost you. There’s nothing more dear on earth for a father than his own children. Still, Daddy, it’s Our Lord who’s claiming me. Can you refuse me this, when from the Cross He was unable to refuse you every drop of His divine blood? It’s the Virgin of Perpetual Help who’s begging your daughter so that She may make her the bride of Her Adorable Son. Can you refuse me this request?
Don’t think, Daddy, that everything I’m telling you isn’t breaking my heart to pieces. You know me well, and you know that I’m incapable of causing you any suffering on purpose. But even though my heart is bleeding, I must follow God’s voice; it’s necessary to leave the beings to which the soul finds itself intimately bound, in order to go and dwell with the God of love who knows how to reward the slightest sacrifice. How much more will He reward great sacrifices.
Your daughter must leave these things behind. But keep in mind: that it’s not for a man but for God. I wouldn’t have done this for anyone else but for God who has an absolute right over us. Let that be your consolation: that I didn’t leave for a man; and, that after God, it is you and my mother who are the ones I love most on this earth.
Also think of how short life is, and that after this painful existence, we’ll find ourselves re-united for all eternity. So it’s for this reason that I’ll go to Carmel: to assure my salvation and that of all my loved ones. Your Carmelite daughter is one who’ll be forever at the foot of the altar for her loved ones, and she’ll be delivered from the thousand worries of those living in the world. The most Holy Virgin wanted her to belong to the Carmelite Order, because it was the first community that gave her homage and honored her. She never fails to bless her Carmelite daughters. So, Daddy, your daughter has chosen the better part. I’ll belong completely to God, and He’ll be completely mine. There will be no separation possible between you and your daughter. Those who love one another are never apart. So, when you give yourself to the to hard work of the farm, Daddy, when you’re worn out with so many sacrifices, and fatigued and alone, with no one in whom you can find rest, when you feel almost dead, then you’ll only need to go to the foot of the altar. There you’ll find your daughter, who’s also alone, too, before the Divine Prisoner, raising her voice in supplication, and begging Him to accept your sacrifice and also her own, that, in return, He may grant you enthusiasm and courage in your work and consolation in your sorrow. How can He turn a deaf ear to the prayer of one who given up everything and who, in her poverty, has no one else to whom to turn. No, Daddy, God is generous, especially because the constancy of my uninterrupted prayer will move Him to crown your sacrifices. My mother and brothers will have someone constantly offering up ardent prayers for them; someone who loves them deeply and who is immolating and sacrificing herself perpetually for the needs of their souls and of their bodies. Yes. In the convent I want to be the family’s guardian angel. Even though I know myself unworthy, I hope to become this, since I’ll always be united to the All-powerful One.
Don’t refuse me this permission, Daddy. The Most Holy Virgin will be my Advocate. She’ll know better than I how to make you understand that the life of prayer and penance I long to embrace contains for me my whole ideal of happiness in this life and will assure me of happiness for all eternity.
I know that the whole society will disapprove of my decision, but it’s because their eyes are closed to the light of faith. The souls they call “unfortunate” are the only ones who know how to be happy, because they find everything in God. In the world there are always horrible sufferings. No one can honestly say: “I’m happy.” But when you go to a cloister, from every cell comes forth words that are sincere, because solitude and the kind of life these people have embraced they would not exchange for anything in this life. Proof of it is that they always remain in their convents. And this is understandable, since in the world everything is egotism, inconstancy and hypocrisy. You’ve experienced this, Daddy. And how can we expect anything better from poor miserable creatures?
So please grant me your consent, my dear Daddy. “He who gives quickly, gives doubly.” Be generous with God, who’ll reward you in this life and in the next, and don’t force me to go out into society. I know full well the life that leaves the soul an empty place that no one but God can fill. It often leads to remorse. Don’t let me be placed in the midst of the kind of corruption that reigns today. My resolution’s been made. Even if someone were to grant me the most advantageous offer, I’d reject it. Where God’s concerned, who can compare with Him? No. I must consecrate myself to God quickly, before the world can stain me. Daddy, will you refuse me this permission for the month of May? There’s little time left, it’s true, but I’ll pray to God and to the Most Holy Virgin to give you the strength needed to say the “yes” that’ll make me happy. On repeated occasions you said you would not refuse your permission, because it would give you great comfort to have a daughter a nun.
The convent I’ve chosen is at Los Andes. It’s the one that God has assigned me, because I’ve never known any Carmelites. I assure you, no one put this idea in my head and I don’t act on impulses. God desires this. May His adorable Will be accomplished.
I await you answer anxiously. In the meantime, I’m begging Our Lord and His Most Holy Virgin to grant you the strength to make the sacrifice, because without Them, I wouldn’t have had the courage to separate myself from you.
Please accept the many kisses and hugs of your daughter who loves you so.