Teresa: Living for Others

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Saturday letter2

I did not get to know her very thoroughly. When she was small, I went to play at her house because her brother, Javier, was one of my ‘best friends’ in primary school. To show that that was a lasting friendship, Javier (to whom I send a big hug) and me, every time we see each other, we recite our parents’ phone numbers and our birth dates, although, as he says, I play with advantage because his phone number is very easy to remember and he was born on the same day as one of my brothers.

As I write this, I am flying to Abidjan, to repatriate the body of Teresa, who died in an accident in Cote d’Ivoire two days ago.

Years later, I met her unexpectedly at a meeting in Canigó, my daughters’ school. I recognized her instantly. The frank smile, the clean and transparent look. We exchanged a few words and I immediately detected the sense of humour so characteristic of his family (his father taught me Political Law!) After that, we coincided in other several events.

Always attentive to everything, willing to help, not wanting to overshadow anyone, letting others shine, with the light she was lending to them. She was assuming new responsibilities, according to her preparation and dispositions. Now she was assistant director.

I say I did not know her very much, but that is not true at all. Teresa was – she still is now on her way to Heaven – a numerary of Opus Dei. And I know well what that is, if only because I have a daughter who is also a member of Opus Dei. I know what it means.

It means transforming motherhood of the body into spiritual motherhood, with that aptitude for growing the human heart has when it gives itself undivided to God and it is able to anticipate in some way the intimate union with Him that we will all reach in the next life.

It means forgetting oneself and putting all the talents – usually many – at the service of others, to bring as many souls as possible to God and to human happiness. It means adorning your face with a permanent smile, with the shining eyes of a clean love without conditions, with arms always open to whoever wants to take refuge in them. It means joyfully enduring all misunderstandings, and always returning good for evil, sometimes watering her soil and other’s soil with tears, that they may grow and bear fruit. It means not having anything of your own and, at the same time, making everything available to others, living a detached and generous life, dedicated to others.

 It means volunteering to go to Cote d’Ivoire with a group of girls, while most people are preparing to enjoy a well-deserved vacation. It means leaving your life behind in a bend of the road, and from there, quietly and effectively, planting in many souls an indiscernible seed that will grow in the hearts of all her friends, in their parents, relatives, and in all those who, like us, close to that human and supernatural pain, pray for Teresa. It means, as Teresa would say, that God knows better and that everything that happens is for the good of those who love Him, although sometimes it takes years to understand it.

 Rosarii Fernandez, Lagos