02/01/2013, 00.00
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On Candlemas, Saint Teresa of Avila's example shows how to fight violence against women

by Nirmala Carvalho
Tomorrow the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the 17th Day of Consecrated Life. For a former Hindu from the Brahmin class, now a cloistered Carmelite nun, the consecrated are a "bridge between God and man," called to radiate the light of Christ. As a woman and a nun, the founder of the Carmelite order is a model to embark on the new evangelisation and to stop discrimination, selective abortions and female foeticides.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "Violence against women is a 'terrible evil'. This is especially significant for us at the Carmelite monastery, as we are celebrating the 'feminine genius' of Saint Teresa of Avila," said Sister Mary Joseph (pictured), a cloistered nun from the Carmelite monastery in Andheri East, Mumbai, who was born into the Brahmin class.

Tomorrow the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the 17th Day of Consecrated Life, also known as 'Candlemas', symbol of life that marks the meeting of Simeon and Anne with Jesus in the Temple where they recognise Him as the expected Messiah, the 'light of men'.

"We consecrated are called to radiate the light of Christ," Sister Mary Joseph said, "We bear witness with our lives and work. We are a 'bridge' for all the people who encounter God. We Carmelites have withdrawn from the world to embrace everyone in Christ's heart."

Tomorrow has special meaning for her and her fellow nuns, coming especially in the Year of Faith and New Evangelisation. It is in fact the 450th anniversary of the founding of the Monastery of St Joseph by Saint Teresa of Avila, marking the beginning of the order's reform.

In his message for the occasion, Benedict XVI described Teresa of Avila as a model of the new evangelisation for all Christians, because she "evangelised unhesitatingly, showing tireless ardour, employing methods free from inertia, and using expressions bathed in light".

At a time when India is still shaken by the New Delhi gang rape case, debating violence against women, the saint's example as a nun and a woman "is particularly significant," for it "drives us to pray with greater intensity for all Indian women victims of discrimination." For Sister Mary Joseph, the latter "begins before birth with selective abortion and female infanticide."

"Vocation is a gift from God," she said. "It is so great, one cannot explain it." For her, "Faith" is a treasure, a [pearl of great value".

"As a community, we are called by God to bear witness to his love through worship and prayers, with the Word of God and the Eucharist as the centre of our lives. Our aim is to support the Church and intercede for humankind."

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