Thursday, June 3, 2010

Teresa the Amiable

I became interested in Teresa Gonzalez-Quevedo when I read somewhere that she had developed a spiritual regimen which she called "A Code of Amiability." Except for the invocation in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary ("Mother most amiable"), I can't recall when last I heard that adjective nor if ever I have described anyone by it.

I'm not sure whether Thomas Aquinas ever included amiability on his list of virtues.

My Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines amiable as "having or showing pleasant, good-natured personal qualities." It further clarifies the idea with "friendly, sociable...agreeable...lovable."

The Gonzalez-Quevedo description of amiability imposes obligations:
1. To smile until a kindly smile forms readily on one's lips.
2. To repress a sign of impatience at the very start.
3. To add a word of benevolence when giving orders.
4. To reply positively when asked to do a favor.
5. To lend a helping hand to the unfortunate.
6. To please those toward whom one feels repugnance.
7. To study and satisfy the tastes of those with whom one lives.
8. To respect everyone.
9. To avoid complaining.
10. To correct, if one must, with kindness.

How great it would be to have a friend or acquaintance who lived that Code of Amiability. That person would be a saint!

As it turns out, Maria Teresa Josefina Justina Gonzalez-Quevedo is on the road to canonization. On June 9, 1983, Pope John Paul II declared this young Spanish girl from Madrid to be "Venerable."
She was born on April 12, 1930, into a well-to-do family. Her father was a well-known doctor. Like St. Therese the Little Flower, Teresa Gonzalez-Quevedo entered the Carmelite order at an early age and developed for herself a spirituality of "little things," doing her best to please God in the ordinary experiences and duties of every day life.

Teresa died in the convent on April 8, 1950, four days before her 20th birthday. On her deathbed, she raised her hands heavenward and whispered, "How beautiful it is..."
Those who knew her recalled her eagerness to visit the sick and her willingness to help her fellow novices and Sisters in the convent in any way she could. She was, they said, a model of amiability.

As her photos suggest, Teresa was a beautiful young woman, with blond hair, almond shaped eyes, and an engaging smile. Family and friends thought she carried herself with an air of elegance, but it was her inner beauty (her kindness, patience, willingness to help) that won the greatest admiration.

On one occasion, in a moment of adolescent religious fervor, young Teresa prayed to the Blessed Virgin, "Oh, Mother, grant me the grace of a religious vocation!" Later, recalling her prayer, she told a friend, "I was terribly frightened, thinking, 'And what if Our Lady really grants me this grace'?"

And the grace was given. And, despite family objections, young Teresa accepted it amiably.

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