Happy birthday, Teresa! That is the heartfelt wish of all who have
known you, and therefore love you: your daughters and sons, your large family, that
recognizes you as mother and teacher; those Christians who you have caused to discover “what a good friend Jesus is” and how our life is changed by learning to be with him in simplicity and love, limiting ourselves to gazing on him who gazes at us. That is the wish offered to you by so many believers of different religions whom you taught the strength and universal value or prayer humbly offered for a world that suffers. And lastly, that is the wish of so many men and women who have learned from you the unexplored dimensions of their humanity and whose hearts have grown, whose souls have breathed.
You did not keep for yourself the life the Lord gave you. You learned daily how to
surrender it completely into His hands, so that He would make it His, His gift to the Church and
the world. The less you belonged to yourself, the more you belonged to him; the more you gave yourself, the more He brought you into participation with His life, His relationship with
the Father, and his offering for the world.
Thank you, Teresa, for the gift of that life spent for us! Thank you for continuing to
accompany us with your teaching and discernment. You, of all people, know how easy it is to
deceive oneself in the spiritual life, create false illusions for oneself. Thank you for “setting us
straight,” for freeing us from tortuous paths that always circle around ourselves and close us
off from others.
Thank you because you kindle hope within us again and always! Like Nicodemus, we
too sometimes say, “How can a person once grown old be born again?” How can the Lord
transform us, renew us? You never lost hope and have taught us not to lose it, because God
does not leave at a halfway point those who are determined to reach the goal, the fount of
living water: “It’s also necessary to begin with the assurance that if we don’t let ourselves be
conquered, we will obtain our goal; this without a doubt, for no matter how small the gain,
one will end up being very rich. Don’t be afraid that the Lord will leave you to die of thirst, for
He calls us to drink from this fount. I have already said this and would like to say it many times,
for the devil intimidates persons who don’t yet fully know the goodness of the Lord through
experience, even though they know it through faith. But it is a great thing to have experienced
the friendship and favour He shows toward those who journey on this road and how He takes care of almost all the expenses” (Way 23, 5).
Lastly, thank you for having taught us to laugh at ourselves, to not take ourselves so
seriously! Thank you for your good sense of humour that gives us back the true measure of our
littleness and misery and the immense greatness of God! With you we will eternally sing the
Infinite mercies of God.
Father Saverio Cannistrà