In memory of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 20 years since her departure
Today is the twentieth anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, an extraordinary woman of faith and a missionary that was canonized by the Church. The UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, on the day of Mother Teresa’s death, said,: “Mother Teresa is the United Nations. Mother Teresa is peace in the world.” These words effectively express the amplitude, the greatness, and the depth of service to life that this little woman has been able to express in faith in God and man, in every man. Today, on his white tomb in the house of Calcutta, pilgrims of all times and of every faith can read a verse of the Gospel of John: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Before being a woman of action, Mother Teresa was a woman of prayer. This perhaps explains her intrepid strength in a life lived through the miseries and the sufferings of the world. She said of herself and of her sisters: “We are contemplative who live in the midst of the world. […] Our life must be a constant prayer” (R. Allegri,”Madre Teresa mi ha detto”, Ancora Editrice, Milano, 2010). Silence and prayer are even more necessary today to witness Christ with life and charity and to live our mission of men and women in an increasingly complex and difficult world.
In August 1946, she began to hear the “call within a call” as she herself defined it. It was the evening of September 10, while she was on the train going to the city of Darjeeling to do spiritual exercises: “That night I opened my eyes to suffering, and understood the essence of my vocation as its core […] I felt that the Lord was asking me to give up to the quiet life inside my religious community and go out into the streets to serve the poor. It was a command. It was not a suggestion or an invitation or a proposal […]”(R. Allegri, ibidem)). It was an inner calling, a voice in the silence of prayer that pushed her to open herself and serve the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa has been able to cultivate and practice the evangelical gift of welcome. Welcoming, first of all, in your own time, in your heart, going to find out who was lonely and abandoned. Mother Teresa has made the Church in communion, cutting down every wall of indifference and hypocrisy.
In front of the many calves of so many men and women of our time, in front of the crosses of men of every race and religion, Mother Teresa has been able to contemplate the face of Christ as the measurement of all those who give life for love. With the power of love, this sister who was herself the incarnation of charity, has been able to do a great thing, a divine thing; she gave a name, a dignity to every cross. What does it mean to give a name to the cross?
Jesus in his fullness of Messiah was no longer a Jew, he was the man: “Here is the man.” The name on the cross is Man. Our cultural, ethnic, religious distinctions may be important, but when it comes to the cross, when we die, they no longer matter. This equality is important because Jesus has taken it on himself as an appointment: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” Mother Teresa has been attracted and attracted many to the cross of Jesus son of man, Savior of every man. That is why, just as Mother Teresa did, we must not ask for any religion defense policy, but we must strongly ask for the defense of man’s dignity.
There is an ecumenical and interreligious dialogue of charity, in which Mother Teresa believed a great deal: “There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said that we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be an example to the people. We have 475 souls around us; of these, only 30 families are Catholics. The rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikh … They are all of different religions, but they all come to our prayers. ” (Lucinda Yardey, Mother Teresa: A Simple Path, Ballantine Books, 1995)
As it is now known, Mother Teresa has also experienced the darkness of faith. In one of his posthumous letters, she wrote that she did not hear “the presence of God in either his heart or the Eucharist.” And she confided: “In my soul I experience just that terrible suffering of the absence of God, that God does not want me, that God is not God, that God does not really exist.”
In those years, Mother Teresa really offered herself to the mystery, once again with the supreme act of donation in love, which she describes with impressive words: “I have begun to love my darkness because I believe it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth” (Franca Zambonini,” Madre Teresa: “La mistica degli ultimi”, Paoline, 2003, pp. 33-34)
Mother Teresa has also been able to love the darkness, just like Jesus, who won death with love.