Teresa and the Vows

When the rich young man of the Gospels asked Jesus what he must do to become perfect, the Lord replied, “Go, sell what you have, give to the poor, and come follow Me.” We are told that the young man went away sad, because he had many possessions. Jesus had called him to a life of perfect love for God. Only Jesus knows how many others down through the centuries He has given the same invitation to, and how many He is still calling today.

The positive answer to the rich young man’s question, “to follow in the footsteps of Jesus,” sets one on the journey of the way of perfection.

Through the profession of the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, one is - as it were - fixed to God. Jesus completed the fulfillment of His Father’s will for Him, by being nailed to the Cross with three nails. He showed the extent of God’s love for us. He became a holocaust of Divine Love.

Christ of Love - Crucifix in San Jose, Avila

By means of the three religious vows, one is completely consecrated to God in union with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. This consecration makes one totally available for the service of almighty God.

By oneself, who could aspire to such a life? No one. Jesus gave, and continues to give, the invitation… and the grace to follow it.

At the dawn of the establishment of the Discalced Carmelite nuns, Saint Teresa wrote:

“I resolved to do the little that was in my power; that is, to follow the evangelical counsels as perfectly as I could, and strive that these few nuns who live here with me do the same. I did this, trusting in the great goodness of God, Who never fails to help anyone who is determined to give up everything for Him.”

Teresa penned these words at a time like ours, “when the world was on fire and it seemed Christ was being crucified again.” The church of Vatican II, in the words of Pope Paul VI, reassures us, “what makes Religious life is that it aims at the perfection of Divine Love by means of the three evangelical counsels.”


“When I went to prayer and saw Christ on the cross, so poor and destitute, I could not bear to be rich and I implored Him to order matters that I might be poor as He was.” - Teresa of Jesus


“The Lord will grant you Love holy and pure. You will forget the world’s fears. The King of Majesty is now your betrothed.” - Teresa of Jesus


“There is no path which leads more quickly to the highest perfection than that of obedience.” - Teresa of Jesus

The fruit of a life lived in generous self-donation through the religious vows is exemplified in the following incident from Saint Teresa’s life. As she expressed it:

“One time Our Lord appeared to me and He gave me His right hand and said, ‘Behold this nail; it is a sign that you will be My bride from today on. Until now, you have not merited this; from now on, not only will you look after My honor as being the honor of your Creator, King, and God, but you will look after it as My true bride. My honor is yours, and yours Mine.’ ”
St. Teresa's Spiritual Marriage with Jesus