The 4 Teresas and the Cardinal Virtues

In episode 8 of his Catholicism series, Bishop Robert E. Barron presents four holy women of the last 150 years in regard to the cardinal virtue most evident in their life and apostolate. Saint Katharine Drexel exemplifies the virtue of justice, saint Therese of the Child Jesus prudence, saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein ) courage, saint Teresa of Calcutta temperance. Each one of them is of course a paragon of several other natural virtues, in addition to being heroic in faith, hope and charity, which is the main requisite for beatification.

I did not know Saint Katharine Drexel before and I am very pleased I do now. She is a an outstanding model of faith and love, especially for Americans and for modern times, but the fact that the other three bear the name of the great saint Teresa de Jesus (of Avila) gave me the idea to take my favorite saint, the one I know best, as another example of the cardinal virtue of justice. So we have a saint Teresa for each one of the four cardinal virtues.

Justice has some different nuances to it. Bishop Barron took the aspect of social justice to apply particularly to saint Katharine Drexel, because of her apostolate dealing with the effects of racism in the United States. His choice is perfectly worthy, but I will take my example from the very root of justice, which is supernatural justice.

God’s justice is a perfect balance of mercy and retribution. Fortunately for us sinners, the only merit necessary to be admitted in the presence of the living God for eternity is to love Jesus and obey the commandments. More precisely, the requirements consist in acknowledging our sins, repenting, giving back penance for the Lord’s mercy, and doing works of mercy in our turn. To make sure we have all the chances to accomplish that, even minimally, God lavishes his grace on us. If one yields to it, the power of grace can make even the worst sinner turn to perfect love, sometimes suddenly, like a saint Paul or, still more spectacularly, the Good Thief.

What the Good Thief did on the cross was to defend the Messiah’s honor against the blasphemy of his companion. Both knew well who Jesus claimed He was; only one of them recognized Jesus was the love of God in person, and gave back love for love. He did what was good and just, and thus became instantly a just man, that is, in essence, a saint. Holiness, or the lack thereof, is the only thing determining eternal retribution. It depends on our answer to the commandment to be good, just, and loving, as our heavenly Father wants us to be.

This was exactly the motivation of Saint Teresa de Jesus: she wanted God to be better known and loved, and rightly praised, honored and obeyed. She said as much many times in her writings, about her foundations and her ardent prayers for the conversion of sinners and heretics. She used all her gifts and influence to bring as many people as she could to do the same, because “God alone suffices”.

The poem “Let Nothing Disturb You, God Alone Suffices” by saint Teresa de Jesus follows.


“Let Nothing Disturb You, God Alone Suffices”
by saint Teresa de Jesus of Avila (1515-1582)

(Spanish, English and French versions)

Nada te turbe
(Sólo Dios basta)

Nada te turbe,
nada te espante,
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda;
la paciencia
todo lo alcanza;
quien a Dios tiene
nada le falta:
Sólo Dios basta.

Eleva tu pensamiento,
al cielo sube,
por nada te acongojes,
nada te turbe.

A Jesucristo sigue
con pecho grande,
y, venga lo que venga,
nada te espante.

¿Ves la gloria del mundo?
Es gloria vana;
nada tiene de estable,
todo se pasa.

Aspira a lo celeste,
que siempre dura;
fiel y rico en promesas,
Dios no se muda.

Ámala cual merece
bondad inmensa;
pero no hay amor fino
sin la paciencia.

Confianza y fe viva
mantenga el alma,
que quien cree y espera
todo lo alcanza.

Del infierno acosado
aunque se viere,
burlará sus furores
quien a Dios tiene.

Vénganle desamparos,
cruces, desgracias;
siendo Dios tu tesoro
nada te falta.

Id, pues, bienes del mundo;
id dichas vanas;
aunque todo lo pierda,
sólo Dios basta.


Let Nothing Disturb You,
God Alone Suffices

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
everything passes,
but God stays.
reaches it all;
he who has God
nothing lacks:
God alone suffices.

Lift your thinking,
raise up to heaven,
let nothing anguish you,
let nothing disturb you.

Follow Jesus Christ
with an open heart,
and, no matter what may come,
let nothing frighten you.

See the glory of the world?
It’s vainglory;
it is not everlasting,
everything passes.

Yearn for the celestial
that lasts forever:
faithful and rich in promises,
God doesn’t change.

Love all that should be loved,
with immense kindness;
but there is no fine love
without the patience.

Confidence and alive faith
the soul maintain,
he who believes and hopes
will obtain all.

Although harassed by hell
one may see himself,
he who has God
will defeat its rage.

Come abandonment,
crosses, misfortune;
God being your treasure,
you lack nothing.

Go, then, worldly goods
go, vain happiness;
even if everything is lost
God alone suffices.


(Que rien ne te trouble)
Dieu seul suffit

Que rien ne te trouble,
que rien ne t’effraie,
tout passe,
Dieu seul ne change pas,
la patience
obtient tout;
celui qui possède Dieu
ne manque de rien :
Dieu seul suffit.

Élève ta pensée,
monte au ciel,
ne t’angoisse de rien,
que rien ne te trouble.

Suis Jésus Christ
de grand cœur,
et, quoi qu’il arrive,
que rien ne t’effraie.

Tu vois la gloire du monde ?
C’est une vaine gloire ;
rien ne dure,
tout passe.

Aspire à ce qui est céleste,
qui dure toujours;
fidèle et riche en promesses,
Dieu ne change pas.

Aime tout ce qui mérite d’être aimé,
avec une bonté immense;
mais il n’y a pas d’amour vrai
sans la patience.

Que confiance et foi vive
maintiennent l’âme,
celui qui croit et espère
obtient tout.

Même s’il se voit
assailli par l’enfer,
il résistera à tous les assauts
celui qui possède Dieu.

Que viennent abandons,
croix, malheurs,
si Dieu est ton trésor,
tu ne manques de rien.

Allez-vous-en donc, biens du monde;
allez-vous-en, vains bonheurs;
même quand tout est perdu,
Dieu seul suffit.