Quotes From and About St. Teresa Margaret

(Canonization Banner of St. Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart)

(All the below taken from http://www.stteresamargaret.org/Quotes.html)

Quotes from and about Saint Teresa Margaret. [1]

 “Lord, I shall be yours, whatever the cost, despite all repugnance.” Page 41.

Preparing to enter Carmel
… the Prioress suggested that, for one intending to enter Carmel, she could think of no better practice than “to accustom herself to mortify her own will in all things, however trifling, and to yield willingly her own rights in order to convenience others, pleasantly agreeing with their opinions, treating all with a genuine kindness, thus making a continual and entire sacrifice of the self to God.” …  Anna Maria (St. Teresa Margaret) had now, from an authoritative source, the secret of the essential spirit of Carmel: the holocaust of one’s will, rather than the rigid adherence to exterior acts and mortifications…  Page 42

She  who is silent everywhere finds peace. Page 74

She who desires peace must see, suffer and be silent.  Pages 74 & 109.

Rather than continually dwelling on her misery and worthlessness, she merely let all thought of self fall away before the infinite majesty of God; and truly the most profitable and genuine way of despising self is to forget oneself altogether.  Page 79.

However, self-knowledge unlike self-love does not depress with the sight of one’s imperfections. “I can do all things in Him who gives me strength,” she repeated with St. Paul, refusing to be downcast. God could and would supply all she lacked, and Father Ildefonse testified: “The effect of self-knowledge did not discourage her, but rather forced her to throw herself on the goodness and mercy of God. She said to me once, ‘From myself, nothing; from God, everything … the smaller and weak­er I am in myself, the richer and stronger I shall be in Him … He shall be the more glorious in His mercy as I am more despicable in my sins and nothingness.’”  Page 80

On her practice of poverty and detachment, Teresa Margaret framed the following counsel: “Always receive with equal contentment from God’s hand either consolations or sufferings, peace or distress, health or illness. Ask nothing, refuse nothing, but always be ready to do and to suffer anything that comes from His Providence.” Page 81 

She who does not know how to conform her will to that of others will never be perfect.  Page 83

Let the nuns take great care not to excuse themselves for their faults except when absolutely necessary.  By acting in this way they will make great progress in humility.   Page 84.

“Knowing that a bride cannot be pleasing to her spouse unless she endeavors to become what he wishes her to be … I will always think of my neighbors as beings made in your likeness, produced by your divine love, redeemed at the price of your precious Blood, looking upon them with true Christian charity, which you command. I will sympathize with their troubles, excuse their faults, always speak well of them, and never willingly fail in charity towards them in thought, word, or deed.” Page 97

I am resolved to give complete obedience in everything without exception, not only to my superiors, but also to my equals and inferiors, so as to learn from you, my God, who made yourself obedient in far more difficult circumstances than those in which I find myself.” Page 97

“Habitual examination of conscience”
“I propose to have no other purpose in all my activities, either interior or ex­terior, than the motive of love alone, by constantly asking myself: ‘Now what am I doing in this action? Do I love God?’ If I should notice any obstacle to pure love, I shall take myself in hand and recall that I must seek to return my love for His love.”  Page 131

“Since nature resists good, even though the spirit may be willing, I resolve to enter upon a continual warfare against self. The arms with which I shall do battle are prayer, the presence of God, silence; yet I am aware how little I am able to use these weapons. Nevertheless I shall arm myself with complete confidence in you, patience, humility and conformity with your divine will … but who shall help me to fight a continual battle against enemies such as those which make war on me? You, my God, have declared yourself my captain; you have raised the standard of the Cross, saying: ‘Take up the cross and follow in my footsteps.’ To correspond with this invitation, I promise to resist your love no longer; rather, I will follow you to Calvary without hesitation.” Page 132

On the Hidden Life
St. Teresa Margaret can almost be named “the saint of the hidden life,” so thoroughly did she absorb its meaning and mystery. The life of Jesus and Mary at Nazareth is indeed the model par excellence for all religious, but this silent and self-effacing saint penetrated deeply into it, and gave its application such wide horizons that she can really be said to have proposed something essentially original.

It is a commonplace to use the life at Nazareth as a type of the Hidden Life, because the enclosed religious is completely withdrawn from the world. But in this sense Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were not “hidden,” at least not from their neighbors and the inhabitants of Nazareth and its environs. Probably, like small country towns the world over, everybody knew and discussed the least event around the village well, and anything that happened in Joseph’s house would be common knowledge, as with everybody else. But where one can claim that their hiddenness was absolute was that while all their exterior activities were watched, and every visitor noted, so well was their interior life concealed from all eyes, that they passed for the most ordinary and unremarkable among a community that was in itself insignificant. The revelation of miraculous powers in Jesus was received with shocked disbelief. They had known him since childhood and could vouch for his likeableness, kindness, generosity, no doubt – but not sanctity, let alone divinity! This was Teresa Margaret’s method of practicing the “hidden life.” Everyone in the community saw all she did, talked with her, worked with her, and were warm in their praise of her goodness and charity. But the real depths of her interior life were completely hidden and were one day to prove a revelation and surprise to these intimate daily companions. She passed every minute under their very noses, so to speak, but managed to remain unnoticed, keeping her soul’s secret for God alone. Page 75

“Obedience,” said St. Gregory the Great, “is rightly placed before all other sacrifices, for in offering a victim as sacrifice, one offers a life that is not one’s own; but when one obeys one is immolating one’s own will.”…  One may leave home, family, friends, renounce social position and material possessions, detach oneself from every created thing, but unless he dispossesses himself of his own will, the sacrifice is worthless … [and Teresa Margaret] developed what one biographer described as “the art of never doing her own will.”   … She had a strong character and a warm, ardent nature, and she seemed to sense that the con­flict between her own rebellious temperament and her desire for sanctity would be resolved by the perfection of her submission.  Pages 85-86

 “At the foot of the Cross,” wrote Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D., “suffering becomes more a proof of love than a punish­ment. Teresa Margaret became a saint not through multiplying penitential exercise, but by having effected an uninterrupted adhesion of her will to the crucified Redeemer.”  Page 135

Lest the fact that sympathy might provide some consolation – for it is well-known that a trial shared loses much of its cutting edge – she endeavored to conceal from those around her any pain or sorrow she endured, or the discomfort of fatigue, the weather, minor indispositions, or the small misunderstandings and inevitable frictions of community life. She continued to practice the incessant mortification of consistently pre­senting a smiling and serene exterior no matter how harassed she might be by interior sufferings or trials. Page 136

The grace of Deus caritas est
One Sunday after Pentecost, on the 28th of June, 1767, when Sister Teresa Margaret was officiating in choir, she read out the little chapter at Terce: “Deus caritas est.” She had heard these words repeatedly, Sunday after Sunday, for the past three years, but now it seemed as though she understood them for the first time – or rather, her understanding of them was raised to an entirely different plane. The verse struck her with the force of a revelation: “God is love; he who dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.” This dwelling had been the goal of all her striving, seeking as she did to imitate the interior life and hidden operations of Christ. From that day onwards the necessity of proving her love by deeds became so compelling a force that it was obvious to her sisters that some special grace had been given her. “Nobody comes to the Father except through Jesus,” she said. “To come to God who is everything and consequently all good, no fatigue must seem to us too great; we must not be put off either by the difficulties we meet on the way, but accept bitterness and welcome every kind of cross with eagerness. By these means, which are precisely those of Jesus Christ, it is not difficult to come to the true God, to live in charity, to walk in love.”

Despite her customary reticence and assiduity in concealing any graces or spiritual favors, the fact that something out of the ordinary had taken place on that Sunday morning was apparent to all. For days the young nun seemed quite out of herself, and the sudden illumination that the words had sent flooding into her soul is difficult to explain, because of the seeming triviality of the incident and her own habitual silence about such things. It marked the beginning of a new stage in her spiritual life, as Father Ildefonse was quick to observe. From this time, he noticed that the quiet, self-possessed and reserved sister appeared to withdraw even more into herself, becoming engrossed in a silent, determined, and conscious awareness of the presence within her, and her endeavors to attain to perfect union with Him. However, this withdrawal was a purely spiritual matter, and there was no suggestion of cutting herself adrift from the community, for she continued to give herself wholeheartedly to all, in her services as infirmarian, in companionship and sympathy at recreation, and in never avoiding her share of work on the grounds of seeking more solitude.

Speaking to Father Ildefonse one day, she tried to express to him something of the significance those words God is love now held for her, but she became almost incoherent in her emotion. “Just as the soul in the state of grace (which is charity) is in God, God is in her. Just as the soul lives the life of God, so does God in a certain way live IN her. And so it is that between them there is but a single life, a single love … God alone! The difference is that God has all by essence, whereas the creature has it only by participation and grace.” And, adds Father Ildefonse, “Note that these words came from a simple child who had never studied and knew no theology apart from what her instinct taught her.”  page 128

Father Ildephonse reflecting on her death remarked “she could not have lived very much longer so great was the strength of the love of God in her”. Page 73*

[1] All quotes are taken from God is Love (1964 edition) unless marked with an ‘*’ in which case they are taken from From the Sacred Heart to the Trinity.

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