Malankara World Journal Tribute to Mother Teresa (15th Death Anniversary)
Volume 2 No. 96 September 9, 2012
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Table of Contents
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This special edition of Malankara World honors the memory of Mother Teresa,
often described as the "Indian Saint." The fifteenth anniversary of her death
was on September 5, 2012. It is appropriate that Mother Teresa was called to her
eternal home between the Shunoyo feast and the feast of the Nativity of St.
Mary, as she was a great believer in the intercession of the Mother of God.
Mother Teresa was once asked: "What will save the world?" She answered as follows:
Mother Teresa truly reflected the light of Jesus on her face. To those who encountered her, they saw Jesus in her.
Mother Teresa believed in the power of the Eucharist. She had no doubt that Eucharist is the living sacrifice and that it is truly the body and blood of Jesus. She believed that she was the 'bride of Jesus."
Mother Theresa said, "If they cut you into little pieces, know that every little piece belongs to Christ."
Mother Teresa believed in serving. Like her master, who told his disciples that in the kingdom of God, the leader should serve the lowest, Mother Teresa served willingly, without any complaint or compromise.
And like Jesus, she believed that the Gospel proclaimed the power of love. She loved the poor and lowly with humility and obedience.
Once a reporter saw Mother Teresa cleaning the maggots out of a wretched man's wound.
Mother Teresa believed in the institution of family. Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother was asked, "What can you do to promote world peace?
She answered, "Go home and love your family. And love your friends. Love them without measure."
Mother Teresa inspired many people to serve others. One of those is HE Geevarghese Mor Coorilose who was inspired to found the Theeram Centers (aka the India Center for Social Change), a charitable organization for mentally challenged children and adults. The Malayalam word 'Theeram' means a shore; Theeram centers serve as a shore of love and care for hundreds of children with special needs in Kerala. It currently has ten vocational training centers that provides training for about 200 mentally challenged boys and girls. Theeram also has started an old age home in the Tsunami-hit area of Alappadu in Karunagappally, Kerala. They are also building a new center with boarding facilities in Vakathanam, Kerala.
I had an opportunity to visit Theeram Center Head Quarters in Cheeranchira (Nalunnackal) a few months ago. The Director of the center, Very Rev. Kuriakose Corepiscopa Moolayil, a member of Malankara World Board, gave a tour of the facilities. It is amazing what they are doing in Theeram. You get an appreciation for the work of Mother Teresa first-hand when you see facilities such as Theeram. It is "love in action" as commanded by Jesus. For more information about Theeram please visit http://www.icsctheeram.org/
Dr. Jacob Mathew
|Something Beautiful for God - The Gift of Mother Teresa|
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was widely regarded as a saint in her own lifetime. A symbol of goodness for people everywhere, she was also the recipient of countless awards, including the 1979 Nobel Prize for Peace.
When she died on September 5, 1997, her congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, encompassed 594 homes in 123 countries. She left behind her more than 3,800 sisters, nearly 380 brothers, 13 priests, and countless co-workers, all committed to living in her spirit throughout the world. She herself was fast-tracked to beatification in 2003 and will likely be canonized within the next few years.
Hers is quite a success story, even though she insisted that she was called to be faithful, not successful. But for all her popularity and success, not many know about the way in which God formed her and prepared her for her calling.
Discerning Her Call.
She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910, the youngest of three children of Albanian parents. She grew up in the multi-ethnic, multi-faith town of Skopje, where her father was a successful businessman. By her own account, her childhood was happy, and on the day of her First Holy Communion (at the age of five), she was graced with a "love of souls," a gift from God that would come to characterize her whole life.
The sudden death of Agnes' much-loved father in 1919 left the family financially insecure. But it also left Agnes' faith to be fuelled by her devout mother and by priests at the local church. By the age of twelve, she felt called to be a missionary among the poor, but she was reluctant to leave her mother alone. In addition to this reluctance, she also had times of doubt: Was she really called to "belong completely to God"? A few years later, a Croatian priest introduced her to St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises, where she found the answer that she was looking for. The thought of mission work filled her with joy, despite the challenges and sufferings it entailed. And that joy was all the confirmation she needed.
Agnes' eventual departure to become a Loreto Sister was nonetheless difficult. When, at the age of eighteen, she told her mother, it was only after a delay that she received her blessing - along with the reminder that her daughter must now be "only all for God and Jesus."
From Sister to Mother
When Agnes set sail for India in 1928, she had chosen Teresa as her religious name. She was at pains to emphasize that this was not after the great Teresa of Ávila but after Thérèse of Lisieux, the "Little Flower." Agnes loved how Thérèse pointed the way to holiness through fidelity in small things and how she spoke of the immense power of suffering to win God's grace for others. She was also touched by Thérèse's desire to "love Jesus as he had never been loved before," a reminder of the words Agnes' mother used. But there must have been something prophetic in this choice of names as well, for just as Agnes would in her later years, Thérèse had experienced a spiritual darkness that she endured only through faith - a "blind" faith that offered no consolation.
For more than fifteen years, Sister Teresa taught history and geography in a responsible, but unexceptional, way. Her sisters in Loreto remembered her for her industriousness, her readiness to perform menial tasks, her ill-fitting sandals, and her fun-loving nature. But something else was going on inside her. In 1931, for example, she spent time helping out at a small medical station that served the suffering poor. Already by this time she saw an intimate and mysterious relationship between the poor and the vulnerable Christ. In the hospital pharmacy, there hung a picture of Christ the Redeemer surrounded by a throng of people on whose faces were engraved the torments of their lives. As she confronted the needs of the waiting throngs, Sister Teresa would look at that picture and think: "Jesus, it is for you and for souls!"
In 1937, shortly before making her final vows and becoming 'Mother Teresa,' she wrote to her spiritual director of how she had joyfully carried the cross with Jesus. She told how crosses used to frighten her. But now, she embraced suffering, and because of this, "Jesus and I live in love." The precise nature of these crosses, which had made her weep, remained unspecified. She may have been referring to her experience as an Albanian of being an outsider in Loreto life in India. But more profoundly, she referred to a 'darkness' that was her companion: a darkness that would become the subject of a number of letters to successive spiritual directors and priests, published only after her death. These letters give the impression that Mother Teresa experienced both interior suffering and spiritual dryness, a feeling that God was absent despite her great thirst for him.
Refuse Him Nothing
Such was Mother Teresa's love for God that in 1942, like Thérèse of Lisieux, she made a private vow never to refuse him anything. She was determined that this vow would touch every aspect of her life, that she would say "yes" to God in every circumstance, no matter how challenging or difficult it might be. This vow dealt not only with the heroic aspects of holiness but the everyday routines of life as well. In the spirit of St. Thérèse's 'Little Way,' she promised to do small things with great love. Every action, every sacrifice, was to be motivated by love.
On September 10, 1946, on a train to Darjeeling and in the course of a subsequent retreat, Mother Teresa had a powerful experience of the Lord in which he asked her to leave Loreto and found a new congregation in Calcutta dedicated to the "wholehearted free service of the poorest of the poor." The goal of this congregation would be to meet Jesus' thirst for souls as he hung on the cross. Remembering her vow, Mother Teresa knew that she could not refuse him. Jesus' thirst - his longing for the love of the broken bodies of the poor and his desire to offer himself as spiritual drink to these poor - was at the heart of all that followed. Jesus wanted their love, and he wanted to give himself to them so that they would be free to give themselves back to him.
But before she could step out in faith to fulfill this vision, she had to convince her spiritual director and her religious superiors that this "second calling" was indeed valid. Loreto had taught her obedience, but for a while their directions to wait appeared to be in direct conflict with God's will. She insisted on the need to respond swiftly, but in obedience she submitted to the church's directives, painful though it was. Finally, in April 1948, Rome granted her an "indult of exclaustration," allowing her to start life in the slums while still remaining a religious sister.
Leaving Loreto was the hardest thing Mother Teresa had to do. She was stepping out into one of the darkest, most disease-ridden areas of the world. And she was going there alone. She was aware of her inadequacy and the delicacy of her situation as a solitary woman. The Loreto Order was highly regarded in Calcutta. Could abandoning it really be God's will? Some even condemned the move as wiles of the devil. But she was determined to deny Jesus nothing, not even the suffering that came from gossip, misunderstanding, and isolation.
A Life Filled with Joy
The work began with a tiny school where Mother Teresa taught her "students" by scratching the alphabet in the dust and introducing them to the rudiments of hygiene. Tortured with fear and loneliness, and not very good at begging, she was painfully aware of the need for prayerful support. Gradually, some of her former pupils joined her, and in 1950 her new congregation was formally established. In 1952, she wrote to a friend in Belgium whose ill health prevented her from joining the congregation and asked her to offer her suffering to the Lord as a form of intercession for her work. And thus began the "Sick and Suffering Co-Workers," whose numbers continued to grow alongside the Missionaries of Charity.
It wasn't just religious sisters who joined her, either. Lay people came, and she eventually founded a lay branch of her congregation, as well as an order of priests. She opened soup kitchens, children's homes, homes for the dying, leprosy clinics, and homes for AIDS victims. A prayerful woman whose outreach was fueled by contemplation, she was constantly uncomfortable with her growing popularity, and especially with the increased requests for her to speak at conferences and gatherings all over the world. But again, she did not refuse the Lord, no matter how much it cost her.
While the world acclaimed her, Mother Teresa came to see this very world, not just the world of the poor but the world of the middle class and the world of the well-off, as an open Calvary. Her travels to wealthier countries convinced her that spiritual poverty was a bigger problem than the physical poverty of the "Third World" in which she worked. Faithful to the last in her determination to love God as he had never been loved before and in spite of the physical hardships and spiritual suffering she endured, Mother Teresa's life was filled with joy. Why? Because she always found Jesus in the poor. Because every act of love brought her 'face-to-face with God.'
Mother Teresa's address at the National Prayer Breakfast,
February 3, 1994
On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"
As we have gathered here to pray together, I think it will be beautiful if we begin with a prayer that expresses very well what Jesus wants us to do for the least. St. Francis of Assisi understood very well these words of Jesus and His life is very well expressed by a prayer. And this prayer, which we say every day after Holy Communion, always surprises me very much, because it is very fitting for each one of us. And I always wonder whether 800 years ago when St. Francis lived, they had the same difficulties that we have today. I think that some of you already have this prayer of peace - so we will pray it together.
Let us thank God for the opportunity He has given us today to have come here to pray together. We have come here especially to pray for peace, joy and love. We are reminded that Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor. He had told us what is that good news when He said: "My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." He came not to give the peace of the world which is only that we don't bother each other. He came to give the peace of heart which comes from loving - from doing good to others.
And God loved the world so much that He gave His son - it was a giving. God gave His son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with Him? As soon as Jesus came into Mary's life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the unborn child - the child in the womb of Elizabeth - leapt with joy. While still in the womb of Mary - Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist who leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth. The unborn was the first one to proclaim the coming of Christ.
And as if that were not enough, as if it were not enough that God the Son should become one of us and bring peace and joy while still in the womb of Mary, Jesus also died on the Cross to show that greater love. He died for you and for me, and for the leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street, no only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and everywhere. Our Sisters serve these poor people in 105 countries throughout the world. Jesus insisted that we love one another as He loves each one of us. Jesus gave His life to love us and He tells us that we also have to give whatever it takes to do good to one another. And in the Gospel Jesus says very clearly: "Love as I have loved you."
Jesus died on the Cross because that is what it took for Him to do good to us - to save us from our selfishness in sin. He gave up everything to do the Father's will - to show us that we too must be willing to give up everything to do God's will - to love one another as He loves each of us. If we are not willing to give whatever it takes to do good to one another, sin is still in us. That is why we too must give to each other until it hurts.
It is not enough for us to say: "I love God," but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don't love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.
It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in His image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must "put on Christ" as Scripture tells us. And so, we have been created to love as He loves us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, "You did it to Me." On the last day He will say to those on His right, "whatever you did to the least of these, you did to Me, and He will also say to those on His left, whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do it for Me."
When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, "I thirst." Jesus is thirsting for
our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst
for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to
do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give
I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and forgotten them - maybe. I saw that in that home these old people had everything - good food, comfortable place, television, everything, but everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: "Why do these people who have every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?"
I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile. And Sister said: "This is the way it is nearly everyday. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten." And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we willing to give until it hurts in order to be with our families, or do we put our own interests first? These are the questions we must ask ourselves, especially as we begin this year of the family. We must remember that love begins at home and we must also remember that 'the future of humanity passes through the family.'
I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given to drugs. And I tried to find out why. Why is it like that, when those in the West have so many more things than those in the East? And the answer was: 'Because there is no one in the family to receive them.' Our children depend on us for everything - their health, their nutrition, their security, their coming to know and love God. For all of this, they look to us with trust, hope and expectation. But often father and mother are so busy they have no time for their children, or perhaps they are not even married or have given up on their marriage. So their children go to the streets and get involved in drugs or other things. We are talking of love of the child, which is were love and peace must begin. These are the things that break peace.
But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.
By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today - abortion which brings people to such blindness.
And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere - "Let us bring the child back." The child is God's gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things - to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.
But what does God say to us? He says: "Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand." We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.
The beautiful gift God has given our congregation is to fight abortion by adoption. We have already, from our house in Calcutta, over 3,000 children adoption. And I can't tell you what joy, what love, what peace those children have brought into those families. It has been a real gift of God for them and for us. I remember one of the little ones was very sick, so I sent for the father and the mother and I asked them: "Please give me back the sick child. I will give you a healthy one." And the father looked at me and said, "Mother Teresa, take my life first than take the child." So beautiful to see it--so much love, so much joy that little one has brought into that family. So pray for us that we continue this beautiful gift. And also I offer you--our Sisters are here--anybody who doesn't want the child, please give it to me. I want the child.
I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption - by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: "Please don't destroy the child; we will take the child." So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: "Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child." And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child - but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said, "Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me." By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.
Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children's home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.
I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.
I also know that there are great problems in the world - that many spouses do not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all, and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion.
The poor are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. Once one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning and said: "You people who have practiced chastity, you are the best people to teach us natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other." And what this poor person said is very true. These poor people maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home to live in, but they can still be great people when they are spiritually rich.
When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. But a person who is shut out, who feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out of society - that spiritual poverty is much harder to overcome. And abortion, which often follows from contraception, brings a people to be spiritually poor, and that is the worst poverty and the most difficult to overcome.
Those who are materially poor can be very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: "You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks worse." So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: "thank you" - and she died.
I could not help but examine my conscience before her. And I asked: "What would I say if I were in her place?" And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said: "I am hungry, I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain," or something. But she gave me much more - she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. Then there was the man we picked up from the drain, half eaten by worms and, after we had brought him to the home, he only said, "I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die as an angel, loved and cared for." Then, after we had removed all the worms from his body, all he said, with a big smile, was: "Sister, I am going home to God" - and he died. It was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that without blaming anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel - this is the greatness of people who are spiritually rich even when they are materially poor.
We are not social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of some people, but we must be contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we must bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that prays together, stays together. There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do.
If we are contemplatives in the heart of the world with all its problems, these problems can never discourage us. We must always remember what God ells us in Scripture: "Even if a mother could forget the child in her womb" - something impossible, but even if she could forget - "I will never forget you."
And so here I am talking with you. I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people first. And find out about your next-door neighbors. Do you know who they are?
I had the most extraordinary experience of love of neighbor with a Hindu family. A gentleman came to our house and said: "Mother Teresa, there is a family who have not eaten for so long. Do something." So I took some rice and went there immediately. And I saw the children - their eyes shining with hunger. I don't know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And the mother of the family took the rice I gave her and went out. When she came back, I asked her: "Where did you go? What did you do?" And she gave me a very simple answer: "They are hungry also." What struck me was that she knew - and who are they? A Muslim family - and she knew. I didn't bring any more rice that evening because I wanted them, Hindus and Muslims, to enjoy the joy of sharing.
But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy and peace with their mother because she had the love to give until it hurts. And you see this is where love begins - at home in the family.
So, as the example of this family shows, God will never forget us and there is something you and I can always do. We can keep the joy of loving Jesus in our hearts, and share that joy with all we come in contact with. Let us make that one point - that no child will be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, or killed and thrown away. And give until it hurts - with a smile.
As you know, we have a number of homes here in the United States, where people need tender love and care. This is the joy of sharing. Come and share. We have the young people suffering with AIDS. They need that tender love and care. But such beautiful--I've never yet seen a young man or anybody displeased or angry or frightened, really going home to God. Such a beautiful smile, always. So let us pray that we have the gift of sharing the joy with others and giving until it hurts.
Because I talk so much of giving with a smile, once a professor from the United States asked me: "Are you married?" And I said: "Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at my spouse, Jesus, because He can be very demanding - sometimes." This is really something true. And this is where love comes in - when it is demanding, and yet we can give it with joy.
One of the most demanding things for me is travelling everywhere - and with no publicity. I have said to Jesus that if I don't go to heaven for anything else, I will be going to heaven for all the travelling with all the publicity, because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go home to God.
If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak - the unborn child - must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for.
Let us love one another as God loves each one of us. And where does this love begin? In our own home. How does it begin? By praying together Prayer for us that we continue God's work with great love. The sisters, the brothers, and the fathers and the lay missionaries of Charity and co-workers: we are all one heart full of love, that we may bring that joy of love everywhere we go. And my prayer for you is that through this love for one another, for this peace and joy in the family, that you may grow in holiness. Holiness is not the luxury of the few; it is a simply duty, for you and for me, because Jesus has very clearly stated, "Be ye holy as my father in heaven is holy." So let us pray for each other that we grow in love for each other, and through this love become holy as Jesus wants us to be for he died out of love for us.
One day I met a lady who was dying of cancer in a most terrible condition. And I told her, I say, "You know, this terrible pain is only the kiss of Jesus--a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you." And she joined her hands together and said, "Mother Teresa, please tell Jesus to stop kissing me."
So pray for us that we continue God's work with great love and I will pray for you, for all your families. And also I want to thank the families who have been so generous in giving their daughters to us to consecrate their life to Jesus by the vow of poverty, chastity, obedience, and by giving wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. This is our fourth vow in our congregation. And we have a novitiate in San Francisco where we have many beautiful vocations who are wanting to give their whole life to Jesus in the service of the poorest of the poor.
So once more I thank you for giving you children to God. And pray for us that we continue God's work with great love.
God bless you all!
When Mother Teresa addressed the United Nations in 1985 she used this prayer:
Make us worthy Lord to serve our fellow men throughout the world,
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted,
For it is by forgetting self that one finds.
The poor people are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things.
The other day one of them came to thank and said: "You people who have vowed chastity you are the best people to teach us family planning. Because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other."
And I think they said a beautiful sentence. And these are people who maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home where to live, but they are great people. The poor are very wonderful people.
As we have gathered here together to thank God for the Nobel Peace Prize, I think it will be beautiful that we pray the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi which always surprises me very much - we pray this prayer every day after Holy Communion, because it is very fitting for each one of us, and I always wonder that 4-500 years ago as St. Francis of Assisi composed this prayer that they had the same difficulties that we have today, as we compose this prayer that fits very nicely for us also. I think some of you already have got it - so we will pray together.
Let us thank God for the opportunity that we all have together today, for this gift of peace that reminds us that we have been created to live that peace, and Jesus became man to bring that good news to the poor. He being God became man in all things like us except sin, and he proclaimed very clearly that he had come to give the good news. The news was peace to all of goodwill and this is something that we all want - the peace of heart - and God loved the world so much that he gave his son - it was a giving - it is as much as if to say it hurt God to give, because he loved the world so much that he gave his son, and he gave him to Virgin Mary, and what did she do with him?
As soon as he came in her life - immediately she went in haste to give that good news, and as she came into the house of her cousin, the child - the unborn child - the child in the womb of Elizabeth, leapt with joy. He was that little unborn child, was the first messenger of peace. He recognized the Prince of Peace, he recognized that Christ has come to bring the good news for you and for me. And as if that was not enough - it was not enough to become a man - he died on the cross to show that greater love, and he died for you and for me and for that leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and New York, and London, and Oslo - and insisted that we love one another as he loves each one of us.
And we read that in the Gospel very clearly - love as I have loved you - as I love you - as the Father has loved me, I love you - and the harder the Father loved him, he gave him to us, and how much we love one another, we, too, must give each other until it hurts.
It is not enough for us to say: I love God, but I do not love my neighbor. St. John says you are a liar if you say you love God and you don't love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live.
And so this is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. It hurt Jesus to love us, it hurt him. And to make sure we remember his great love he made himself the bread of life to satisfy our hunger for his love. Our hunger for God, because we have been created for that love. We have been created in his image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us.
Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people.
This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.
I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face.
And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: "This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten."
See - this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect to love. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried, and these are difficult days for everybody. Are we there, are we there to receive them, is the mother there to receive the child?
I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given into drugs, and I tried to find out why - why is it like that, and the answer was: Because there is no one in the family to receive them. Father and mother are so busy they have no time. Young parents are in some institution and the child takes back to the street and gets involved in something.
We are talking of peace. These are things that break peace, but I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing - direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: 'Even if a mother could forget her child - I will not forget you - I have carved you in the palm of my hand.'
We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you. And today the greatest means - the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here - our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us. Our children, we want them, we love them, but what of the millions.
Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child - what is left for me to kill you and you kill me - there is nothing between.
And this I appeal in India, I appeal everywhere: Let us bring the child back, and this year being the child's year: What have we done for the child? At the beginning of the year I told, I spoke everywhere and I said: Let us make this year that we make every single child born, and unborn, wanted. And today is the end of the year, have we really made the children wanted?
I will give you something terrifying. We are fighting abortion by adoption, we have saved thousands of lives, we have sent words to all the clinics, to the hospitals, police stations - please don't destroy the child, we will take the child. So every hour of the day and night it is always somebody, we have quite a number of unwedded mothers - tell them come, we will take care of you, we will take the child from you, and we will get a home for the child. And we have a tremendous demand from families who have no children, that is the blessing of God for us.
And also, we are doing another thing which is very beautiful - we are teaching our beggars, our leprosy patients, our slum dwellers, our people of the street, natural family planning. And in Calcutta alone in six years - it is all in Calcutta - we have had 61,273 babies less from the families who would have had, but because they practise this natural way of abstaining, of self-control, out of love for each other. We teach them the temperature meter which is very beautiful, very simple, and our poor people understand. And you know what they have told me? Our family is healthy, our family is united, and we can have a baby whenever we want. So clear - those people in the street, those beggars - and I think that if our people can do like that how much more you and all the others who can know the ways and means without destroying the life that God has created in us.
The poor people are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. The other day one of them came to thank and said: "You people who have vowed chastity, you are the best people to teach us family planning. Because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other." And I think they said a beautiful sentence. And these are people who may have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home where to live, but they are great people.
The poor are very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition - and I told the Sisters: "You take care of the other three, I will take of this one that looked worse." So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: "Thank you" - and she died.
I could not help but examine my conscience before her, and I asked what would I say if I was in her place. And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself, I would have said 'I am hungry, that I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain, or something,' but she gave me much more - she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face.
As that man whom we picked up from the drain, half eaten with worms, and we brought him to the home. "I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die like an angel, loved and cared for." And it was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that, who could die like that without blaming anybody, without cursing anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel - this is the greatness of our people. And that is why we believe what Jesus had said: "I was hungry - I was naked - I was homeless - I was unwanted, unloved, uncared for - and you did it to me."
I believe that we are not real social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we are touching the Body of Christ 24 hours. We have 24 hours in this presence, and so you and I. You too try to bring that presence of God in your family, for the family that prays together stays together. And I think that we in our family don't need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace - just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home. And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world.
There is so much suffering, so much hatred, so much misery, and we, with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. It is to God Almighty - how much we do it does not matter, because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.
Some time ago in Calcutta, we had great difficulty in getting sugar, and I don't know how the word got around to the children, and a little boy of four years old, a Hindu boy, went home and told his parents: "I will not eat sugar for three days; I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa for her children." After three days, his father and mother brought him to our home. I had never met them before, and this little one could scarcely pronounce my name, but he knew exactly what he had come to do. He knew that he wanted to share his love.
And this is why I have received such a lot of love from you all. From the time that I have come here I have simply been surrounded with love, and with real, real understanding love. It could feel as if everyone in India, everyone in Africa, is somebody very special to you. And I felt quite at home. I was telling Sister today. I feel in the Convent with the Sisters as if I am in Calcutta with my own Sisters. So completely at home here, right here.
And so here I am talking with you - I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people. And find out about your next-door neighbour - do you know who they are?
I had the most extraordinary experience with a Hindu family who had eight children. A gentleman came to our house and said: "Mother Teresa, there is a family with eight children, they had not eaten for so long - do something." So I took some rice and I went there immediately. And I saw the children - their eyes shinning with hunger - I don't know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And she took the rice, she divided the rice, and she went out. When she came back I asked her, "where did you go, what did you do?" And she gave me a very simple answer: "They are hungry also." What struck me most was that she knew - and who are they, a Muslim family - and she knew. I didn't bring more rice that evening because I wanted them to enjoy the joy of sharing. But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy with their mother because she had the love to give. And you see this is where love begins - at home. And I want you - and I am very grateful for what I have received. It has been a tremendous experience and I go back to India - I will be back by next week, the 15th I hope - and I will be able to bring your love.
And I know well that you have not given from your abundance, but you have given until it has hurt you. Today the little children they have - I was so surprised - there is so much joy for the children that are hungry. That the children like themselves will need love and care and tenderness, like they get so much from their parents. So let us thank God that we have had this opportunity to come to know each other, and this knowledge of each other has brought us very close. And we will be able to help not only the children of India and Africa, but will be able to help the children of the whole world, because as you know our Sisters are all over the world. And with this prize that I have received as a prize of peace, I am going to try to make the home for many people that have no home. Because I believe that love begins at home, and if we can create a home for the poor - I think that more and more love will spread. And we will be able through this understanding love to bring peace, be the good news to the poor. The poor in our own family first, in our country and in the world.
To be able to do this, our Sisters, our lives have to be woven with prayer. They have to be woven with Christ to be able to understand, to be able to share. Because today there is so much suffering - and I feel that the passion of Christ is being relived all over again - are we there to share that passion, to share that suffering of people. Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society - that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult. Our Sisters are working amongst that kind of people in the West. So you must pray for us that we may be able to be that good news, but we cannot do that without you, you have to do that here in your country. You must come to know the poor, maybe our people here have material things, everything, but I think that if we all look into our own homes, how difficult we find it sometimes to smile at each, other, and that the smile is the beginning of love.
And so let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love, and once we begin to love each other naturally we want to do something. So you pray for our Sisters and for me and for our Brothers, and for our Co-Workers that are around the world. That we may remain faithful to the gift of God, to love Him and serve Him in the poor together with you. What we have done we should not have been able to do if you did not share with your prayers, with your gifts, this continual giving. But I don't want you to give me from your abundance, I want that you give me until it hurts.
The other day I received 15 dollars from a man who has been on his back for twenty years, and the only part that he can move is his right hand. And the only companion that he enjoys is smoking. And he said to me: "I do not smoke for one week, and I send you this money." It must have been a terrible sacrifice for him, but see how beautiful, how he shared, and with that money I bought bread and I gave to those who are hungry with a joy on both sides, he was giving and the poor were receiving. This is something that you and I - it is a gift of God to us to be able to share our love with others.
And let it be as it was for Jesus. Let us love one another as he loved us. Let us love Him with undivided love. And the joy of loving Him and each other - let us give now - that Christmas is coming so close. Let us keep that joy of loving Jesus in our hearts. And share that joy with all that we come in touch with. And that radiating joy is real, for we have no reason not to be happy because we have no Christ with us. Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor that we meet, Christ in the smile that we give and the smile that we receive. Let us make that one point: That no child will be unwanted, and also that we meet each other always with a smile, especially when it is difficult to smile.
I never forget some time ago about fourteen professors came from the United States from different universities. And they came to Calcutta to our house. Then we were talking about that they had been to the home for the dying. We have a home for the dying in Calcutta, where we have picked up more than 36,000 people only from the streets of Calcutta, and out of that big number more than 18,000 have died a beautiful death. They have just gone home to God; and they came to our house and we talked of love, of compassion, and then one of them asked me: "Say, Mother, please tell us something that we will remember," and I said to them: "Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. Smile at each other."
And then another one asked me: "Are you married?", and I said: "Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at Jesus because he can be very demanding sometimes." This is really something true, and there is where love comes - when it is demanding, and yet we can give it to Him with joy. Just as I have said today, I have said that if I don't go to Heaven for anything else I will be going to Heaven for all the publicity because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to Heaven. I think that this is something, that we must live life beautifully, we have Jesus with us and He loves us.
If we could only remember that God loves me, and I have an opportunity to love others as he loves me, not in big things, but in small things with great love, then Norway becomes a nest of love. And how beautiful it will be that from here a centre for peace has been given. That from here the joy of life of the unborn child comes out. If you become a burning light in the world of peace, then really the Nobel Peace Prize is a gift of the Norwegian people. God bless you!
Source: Mother Teresa, "Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech." December 11, 1979 Oslo, Norway.
by Nirmala Carvalho
Sister Amile Jose is 48 years old and has become a Missionary of Charity in 1983. She lives in the regional House at Royapuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Her apostolate is to visit families who are suffering and teaching catechism to children. She lived for three years with Mother Teresa and from her she learned not to ever complain about anything.
What is your apostolate?
Our apostolate is visiting the families and sharing in their joys and sufferings. Listening whole heartedly to their sufferings, and being fully attentive to their sorrows relieves them of nearly half of their pain. Later at Adoration, we pray and intercede for the families by name after we return from our home visits. People open their doors for us and open their hearts to us, the people unburden their lives and sorrows to us and feel the consolation and grace of Christ.
Catechetical work is another important apostolate, here at St Roque's Parish, we have 300 children who attend faith formation classes, yesterday itself 63 children were confirmed and last week 42 children received their first Holy Communion.
Share with us your personal experiences of Mother Teresa.
In 1984 -1986, I was in Mother House, Calcutta for my formation, Mother was a Woman of Prayer, I was most attracted and fascinated with the Mother's "eyes" - if she looked at me -, I felt she was looking into my soul, I shall always treasure this memory of Mother - her Eyes.
Interestingly, after Mother's death, reading Mothers book 'Founding Grace', increased my devotion to Mother. Founding Grace, is Mothers dairies containing some of the many letters Mother wrote to priests, and her confessors, sharing with them her struggles, her difficulties and her sufferings she endured in her initial days.
It is most revealing that Mother never complained, grumbled or found fault with anyone. In Mother's dairies , there are no remarks of complaints against anyone.
How are you living your mission as a Missionaries of Charity ?
The Spirit of our society is Total Trust in God, Complete Surrender and Cheerfulness- for my in this Apostolate with the Grace of Christ, I hope I can cheerfully bear witness to my vocation in the Spirit of Service to the Families during home visits and during the catechetical work.
Mother Teresa always told us that we belong to Jesus and to pray unceasingly and to take the love of Christ to the people. Mother was one of Christ's best witnesses - to see her love for him and the poor was to see and want Christ.
What have you learned from Mother Teresa
When I joined the Missionaries of Charity in1983, I joined to follow Jesus in the footsteps of Mother Teresa- to share completely in his Passion. Everyday And in December 2009, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, while initially, it saddened me, then looking at Mother and remembering her Founding Grace - of never complaining, of accepting the cross. And now, I consider this diabetes as God's Grace to resemble Christ and share in his Passion and bear fruit for my apostolate.
Everyday at Mass, Meditation and Adoration before Jesus, my continuous prayer is "Out of Love for You Jesus" I have a first class relic - a strand of Mother's hair, and this relic is a source of immense consolation and encouragement in my Mission as her daughter- Mother was a woman of prayer and Mother continues to intercede for each of us, that we may Love Jesus more and more."
Source: Asia News (www.asianews.it) 8/19/2010
by Agenzia Fides
It's Jesus who leads the steps of the Missionaries of Charity, who leads them in their missionary spirit and work: 100 years after the birth of Mother Teresa (an event which was celebrated on August 26, 2010), it is this "trust in Divine Providence" that is one of the essential features of the Congregation of Sisters with the "white sari" live, in respect and memory of their founder, who has been called "a miracle in the history of mankind." This is what has been revealed by German- born Sister Mary Prema, present Superior General of the Order, in an interview with Fides through the mediation of "Missio Austria," the Pontifical Mission Societies in Austria.
Sister Prema, you are responsible for a religious order in the world takes care of the poor and sick. Why, in your opinion, does God allow suffering?
Suffering cannot be a punishment. And yet, God allows it. We can take advantage of suffering to approach him and ask him for the grace to endure it and thus be able to live this suffering well. Suffering often comes as the consequence of our decisions. However, it is also a consequence of a passing world/nature that is fragile. Of course, suffering can also be caused by things that are beyond our reach. Natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti or floods in Pakistan, are an example. But, I am convinced that God allows suffering because it can transform us into better and more profound people. Thus, we are able to understand that this world and this life are not the ultimate goal, but that there is something more: the life of the soul which - if one really accepts suffering - is purified.
Mother Teresa distinguished between physical suffering and spiritual suffering. Can you tell us a little more about how your work today takes them both into account?
The greatest suffering is spiritual suffering, the suffering of the soul. Here in Calcutta, we see that it is much easier for us to care for physical needs, to carry out corporal works of mercy: wash dying people, provide medical care to the sick, and help the homeless in our homes. The services of spiritual charity require a much larger commitment. We can respond to the suffering of the soul above all with our prayers. It is important that God's grace touches people with such suffering. Likewise, it is also important that we pray for this same reason. Every day we stop for an hour of prayer before the Eucharist. It is crucial for our work. In fact, our work is not a social commitment, but a missionary commitment.
What do you understand with the word 'mission'? For Mother Teresa, did this imply 'conversion' to the Catholic faith?
Mother Teresa wanted everyone to know and love Jesus. She was convinced that every soul desires Jesus' salvation, whether or not he realizes it or not. The work of conversion, however, remains a work of God. It is not our task. Only God can convert a soul. Mother Teresa dedicated her own life to the task of loving Jesus and transmitting this love to those around her. That was her only goal. She tried to be faithful to whatever she thought God expected from her in good conscience. Mother Teresa felt that God had called her to carry out a genuine and disinterested service to man, to give her undivided attention to the person who suffers. She was always 100% present and open to the person who she was with at any given moment. She was never interested in big things. She was not concerned with advertising or anything like that. The most important for her was always the one-on-one contact with the individual. This, of course, shows her great wisdom.
Can you tell us how Mother Teresa lived in her environment? What was the image that you, Sister Prema, had of Mother Teresa?
She would probably say that her goal was always to convey the experience of Jesus to those around her. This is the legacy she left us. Through her life, her work, her charisma, she brought those around her to God. She did not preach, but she testified with her own life. Even today, many people tell me of their first meeting with Mother Teresa. Perhaps they had seen her for five minutes on the terrace of our motherhouse. But that one moment changed their lives forever. Oftentimes a phrase, a kind word was enough. Many of these people are Hindus. They have not converted to Christianity since they met Mother Teresa. However, they began to see their lives and their work with different eyes and have become other people, living in a different way, based on love and mercy, within their own families. There are many examples.
At 100 years since the birth of Mother Teresa, what do you see as the major challenges for the Congregation in the coming years?
The Missionaries of Charity might seem like a great organization, but we do not make plans for the next ten years. We try to remain open to what God asks of us. Only Jesus will tell me what is the next step. So, in the spirit of Mother, I'm not the one who controls things. God is the one who decides.
Mother Teresa has left indications on the future order?
Someone once asked her what would happen when she was no longer alive. Her answer was very dry: "Let me die in peace first!" She never gave us any indications of future plans. Besides the fact that we should always strive to become more holy! This was her constant advice. Today, in the direction of the Order, we work as a group: three other sisters share this task with me. But ultimately, as Superior General, the responsibility for the Order is mine. For this task, I have been able to learn a lot from our founder. The decision process took place in two phases: the first was to discuss and learn about all the possibilities and consequences (decision making), then came the phase for making a choice, in which one makes the decision (decision taking). Mother Teresa listened to all the advice accurately, then withdrew, and then made the decision. She was very good at that.
How are (you) facing the challenges of the new millennium?
Mother Teresa listened to Jesus and was always open to the new challenges and problems which are found in society. In the 80s, for example, it was HIV/AIDS. She opened a house in New York for the victims of this disease. In the center, she put the accompaniment of patients in a terminal stage. At that time, medicines to control the virus did not even exist. What suffering! Mother Teresa listened to Jesus, but at the same time she also had an open ear to the world's problems. So, we must listen to Jesus and be generous. She was very generous towards God and towards those suffering beside her. In this, we want to imitate her.
What kind of formation do the Sisters receive in preparing for this task?
From the beginning of their formation, the novices have the opportunity to work with the poor in the slums. The receive criteria for caring for the sick and of course, a basic formation in theology, church history, catechism, and Sacred Scripture.
Source: Agenzia Fides; 23/08/2010
by Jim Towey
Even though she carried the burden of celebrity, she had the wisdom to choose 'the better part'
Many people were blessed to be friends or colleagues of Mother Teresa, who had a permanent impact on their lives. Our Sunday Visitor asked two of these fortunate people to reflect upon what made this simple sister so special.
It has been over 10 years since Mother Teresa went home to God. Her beatification in October 2003 placed her one miracle away from canonization.
As with any saint, there is a danger of turning Mother Teresa into a plastic statue and adorning her with ethereal glow. In my 12 years of association and friendship with Mother, what impressed me most was her beautiful humanity.
Mother Teresa first of all was a mother.
She had an extraordinary maternal love. She listened intently to you as if you were her only child. She cared about your best interests and sometimes told you things you didn't want to hear.
She didn't judge.
Mother used to say, "If you judge people, then you have no time to love them." She was thoughtful and considerate and, like many mothers, she was never too busy for the little things.
I remember one morning in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1989. I had attended early morning Mass with Mother at her contemplative sisters' house where she was staying. I rushed out after Mass to go and run the errands she had given me.
I raced to the Missionaries of Charity truck and was about to pull out when I saw a commotion at the door -- Mother had come outside and was gesturing for me.
I hastily parked the truck and ran to see what she wanted. To my utter surprise, she had come out with great urgency to give me a peanut butter sandwich and a banana so that I had something for breakfast. That's what mothers -- and saints -- do.
Love of Beauty
I think Mother Teresa's love of God and love of life were inseparable. Her laugh was unmistakable and often unexpected. She delighted in the company of those whom God had given to her as daughters and sons -- the Missionaries of Charity sisters, brothers and fathers who followed in her footsteps. When one of them would come to see her after being away years in the missions, her eyes would beam recognition and delight.
She loved beauty wherever she encountered it. She enjoyed singing and writing poetry. She kept in touch with her friends and had plenty of them. She simply loved life.
Even though Calcutta seemed overrun with destitution and despair, Mother Teresa was a cheerful person. I think that owed to the amount of time she spent each day in prayer. Jesus loved both Martha and her sister Mary, and in Mother Teresa, he found them both.
Within Our Reach
Even though she ran a worldwide missionary organization spread across 100 countries and carried the burden of celebrity, Mother had the wisdom to choose "the better part." Mother used to say, "If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy." She felt that without receiving the Lord in the Eucharist and in the silence of her heart she had nothing to give the poor or any of us.
The truth is, the more we know about Mother Teresa and how she embraced life and treated others, the more she, a saint, is placed within our reach. As she often said, holiness is not the privilege of a few but the duty of each of us. If we really want to be like Mother Teresa, we can begin by praying more, welcoming Jesus in our neighbor, and rejoicing in the life God has given us.
In my last letter to Mother Teresa, written just weeks before she was called home to God, I thanked her with all my heart for her love and prayers.
Even now, I wish to say these same things to her: "God bless you every day, dearest Mother. I love you."
When Mother Teresa walked into the Home for the Dying in Calcutta, the skeletal, failing men would reach out to her from their cots and call: "Mother," "Ma." It was inspiring to watch her touch each one -- taking one person's face in the palms of her hands, holding the hand of another -- as she walked down the aisle between the rows of stretcher beds of sick and dying patients.
One of the most touching things for me was that these men didn't know that Mother Teresa was famous throughout the world. They had no idea she won the Nobel Peace Prize and top awards and honors from countries throughout the world. They didn't know that she was celebrated as a living saint.
All they knew was that all the love in the world had just walked in the door. They recognized holiness and love and beauty when they saw it, and they reached out to her like children reach out to their mothers.
Humble and Holy
Mother Teresa was one of the most humble human beings I ever met in my life, and I kept writing home to my family and friends during my time in India saying, "She's so beautiful." I have always felt that humility is one of the most beautiful virtues and a sign of true greatness. Humility and holiness go together.
"Holiness is not the luxury of the few," Mother Teresa would say. "It is a simple duty for you and me." We are all called to be saints. God himself commands that we strive to be perfect in holiness, and "God cannot command the impossible."
Humility was one of the many beautiful lessons that she taught us, especially by her example. She felt that she was nothing but "a little pencil in the hands of God." Sometimes she even referred to herself as "a broken pencil." She marveled at how God can make use of instruments "as weak and imperfect as we are."
Even in her later years (I met her when she was 76 and I was 21), Mother Teresa still got down on her knees in prayer on the chapel floor. She was still on her knees washing the floor. She was even serving me tea and cookies when I visited her, even though I should have been the one serving her.
She used to teach us that "we must not drift away from the humble works, because these are the works nobody will do. It is never too small." The minute we give these little things to God, they become infinitely valuable.
"We are so small we look at things in a small way. But God, being Almighty, sees everything great," Mother said. We can honor him by doing works considered inconsequential by many -- such as visiting the homebound, offering to help a burdened mother with household chores, taking an elderly friend or neighbor to Mass. It's humble work, but great work in God's eyes.
"For there are many people who can do big things," Mother said. "But there are very few people who will do the small things."
Let us continue to do "small things with great love," and offer these little things to God. And let us humble ourselves and pray with Mother Teresa that our lives, too, may be "something beautiful for God."
About the Author:
Jim Towey is the President of St. Vincent College, Latrobe, Pa. He was formerly assistant to the president of the United States and legal counsel for Mother Teresa.
Source: Our Sunday Visitor, 2007
Indeed, this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks upon the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life. Him I will raise up on the last day." (Jn. 6:40)
Mary is raised to the height of glory because she allowed God to bring her to the depths of humility. "Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled but whoever humbles himself shall be exalted"...
This mystery assures us of the final victory of Jesus and Mary and the Church. Because the Church is an image of Jesus and Mary, what happens to Jesus and Mary will happen to the whole Church. Mary is the Queen of Heaven and earth. "A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, on her head a crown of twelve stars." She will crush the head of the serpent with her heel: her humble children who obediently follow God's will and cause Jesus, her Son, to reign in every heart. "They defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." This is the glory of humility and final victory! These two victories of Jesus and Mary must go hand in hand because they are one and the same.
Mary recognized her absolute nothingness without God that God may be absolutely everything to her. With Mary we humbly adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament by acknowledging our absolute dependency on Him. "He must increase, but I must decrease." The Eucharist is the living Source of all light, life and love. Here Jesus says: "I am the Vine, you are the branches: he that abides in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing." Every holy hour deepens our union with Him and bears much fruit. "So I gaze on You in the sanctuary to see Your strength and Your glory, for Your love is better than life."
Source: 'Rosary Meditations from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta'
"They will fight against the Lamb, but the Lamb will be victorious. He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings." (Rev 17:4)
The Eucharist is a constant reminder to "be intent on the things above rather than on things of earth", "for here we have no lasting dwelling place." "We have our citizenship in Heaven."
The Holy Eucharist is "the mystery, the plan He was pleased... to carry out in the fullness of time: to bring all things in the heavens and the earth into one under Christ's headship."
"The Lord will reign forever and give His people the gift of peace." "I will reign through the omnipotent love of My Sacred Heart."
THE HOLY EUCHARIST IS A FORESHADOWING OF HIS REIGN ON EARTH:
"This is God's dwelling among man. He shall dwell with them."
"Rejoice at the Presence of the Lord, for He comes to rule the earth."
"He has put all things under Christ's feet."
"If we hold out to the end, we shall also reign with Him."
Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament, is the Victorious Lamb, the 'Alpha and Omega', the 'Lord of lords' and the 'King of kings'. "Who would dare refuse You honor, or the glory due Your name O Lord? Since You alone are holy, all shall come and worship Your Presence."
"Salvation is from our God...on the throne, and from the Lamb!" This is the same Jesus Whom "everyone in the crowd was trying to touch...because the power came out from Him that cured them all."
He says "I know the plans I have in mind for you: plans for peace, not disaster, reserving a future full of hope for you": 'from the Lamb flows a river of grace WHICH HEALS EVERY NATION'.
Each time we look upon Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, He raises us up into deeper union with Himself, opens up the floodgates of His merciful love to the whole world, and brings us closer to the day of His final victory 'where every knee will bend and proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord'. "The reign of God is already in your midst." The coming of Jesus to us in the Eucharist is assurance of His promise of final victory: "BEHOLD, I COME TO MAKE ALL THINGS NEW."
Source: 'Rosary Meditations from Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta'
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