I am with you always until the end of this world - Jesus (Matthew 28:20).
Preach the Word in season and out of season reproving, rebuking or advising always with patience and providing instructions (2 Timothy 4:2).
Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you (Luke 1:30).
Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. - G. K. Chesterton
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Saturday, December 27, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
My Gospel Reflections for the third Sunday of Advent, (Gaudete Sunday) December 14, John 1:6-8, 19-28
My Reflections:Today is the third Sunday of Advent called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means rejoice; today the priest will wear a pink stole instead of the advent standard color of violet. We rejoice because we anticipate with great joy the coming of our savior.
But let us have a reality check first; is there still a reason to rejoice considering the worldwide economic gloom? Is there still a reason to rejoice considering that a lot of our relatives will be loosing their jobs because their companies/factories where they are working will be closing before soon? Is there is a reason to rejoice for a young couple with four mouths to feed who both lost his jobs a few days ago? As we read the news we read a lot of depressing items, is this reason to rejoice?
A few minutes ago I went to the Christmas party of a poor community here in our parish, being poor we shared little and simple food but it was all right. The little food that we had didn’t matter at all, what was important was we shared, we laugh and we were happy. In spite of the discouraging events unfolding before us there is still a reason to rejoice and that is the birth of our Lord.
In the first reading according to the prophet Isaiah it says: “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.
Like John the Baptist, we who are deep in our faith must be an instrument of God (with humility) to convey to those who are poor and to those who are losing hope that there is still reason to rejoice and that reason is the forthcoming birth of our Lord Jesus our Christ.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
My Gospel Reflections for Sunday: November 23, Matthew 25:31-46. (Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus: Christ the King)
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus, Christ the King. This is how we celebrate this solemnity in our parish. After the 5:30 pm anticipated Mass our Pastor will expose the monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament for the Parish organization and the parishioners to adore. It will be exposed until the next early morning. Then, at exactly 4:30 am, the parish community will have a procession. The Priest will carry the monstrance with the Exposed Blessed Sacrament inside it. We will be accompanying Jesus by carrying a golden white cloth above the Blessed Sacrament. I think this serves as a symbol of respect and veneration for Christ our King.
In the gospel, Jesus created a narrative on how the King separated the sheep from the goats, the sheep was on His right and the goats were on His left. Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Christ kingship is already here and now and He resides in our hearts and minds once we emulate the actions of those on His right. When we feed those who are hungry and thirsty, welcomed a total stranger on our doorstep that badly needs our help, when we care for the sick regardless if we know them or not. When we visit those in prison, when we forgive those who have wronged us no matter how deep the wound that they have inflicted upon us. When we do all of these we embrace Jesus with our whole being and His kingdom is already within us. Sometimes we may wonder; why am I doing all these Good thing to my fellowmen? We are doing this for the simple reason that we have already allowed Jesus to reign within us.
Those on the Kings left (goats) have actually not committed any sin but they were simply insensitive to the plight of those who were hungry, those who were in need of their help, those who were sick, those who were in prison and those who were in need of their forgiveness. Those who are insensitive (this may include us) have not yet tasted that heavenly feeling of Christ Kingship.
The Kingdom of Christ is already here and now, some of us feel His Kingship deep in our bones, some of us are simply numb of His Kingship for we are insensitive…
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
My Gospel Reflections for the 33rd Sunday in ordinary time. November 16, Matthew 25:14-30 (The parable of the talents)
There were three servants who were entrusted with talents by the Master who went on a journey. The first servant was given five talents, the second two and third one. The talents were given to them according to their abilities.
After a period of time the Master came back and settled accounts with them. There were no problem with the first two for both of them were productive, they were able to exactly follow what the Master wanted them. However, this is where the trouble started for the third servant for he was not productive with the talent that was given to him. The Master was so angry with him that He lectured him that it was much better if he had put the money in the bank so that it could have earned interest. Then, he was punished. The talent was taken from him and he was banished into the darkness outside, where there was wailing and grinding of teeth.
What a frightening punishment for the unproductive servant, if only he risked in doing business with the one talent that was given him. He could have avoided the embarrassment and the chilling punishment.
What does this gospel say about us? About our talents that we choose to keep to ourselves rather than share it with the church and our fellowmen. Some of us are just content to just come and go to the church every Sunday for Mass and give money during collection. We think that this is already enough. But if only we are sensitive to the needs of the church we will notice that from time to time it announces its need for parishioners to share whatever talents that they can share to us people of God.
You may have the talent for singing, why not join the choir? You may have the charism for service; why not join the Mother Butler or any other community oriented organization in the church. You may have the talent for teaching, why not join the catechist? And so on and so forth.
Let us learn to share the talent that we have to our church and to our fellowmen so that it will grow and bear much fruit in the hearts and minds of our fellowmen. Let us share it not because we are afraid of the punishment that may befall us if we will not. Let us share our talents out of our love for Jesus and for all of humanity that He loves so much.
Are we now willing to share our entrusted talents?
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
What underlies both reactions is a failure to understand an experience as old as faith itself, that of being inside a dark night of the soul. Looking at Mother Theresa through the eyes of Christian mysticism the better question might be: How could she not experience what she experienced? She was an extraordinary woman, a spiritual athlete, someone who had given her entire freedom over to God; might we not expect this to happen to her? Wouldn't you expect her to experience a dark night of the soul?
What is a dark night of the soul? A dark night of the soul is an experience where our felt-sense of God dries up and disappears. At the level of feeling, thought, and imagination, we are unable to conjure up any sense of security or warm feelings about the presence of God in our lives. We feel agnostic, even atheistic, because we can no longer imagine the existence of God. God seems non-existence, absent, dead, a fantasy of wishful thinking.
But notice that this takes place at the level of the imagination and feelings. God doesn't disappear or cease to exist. What disappears are our former feelings about God and our capacity to imagine God's existence.
God exists, independent of our feelings. Sometimes our heads and hearts are in tune with that and we feel its reality with fervor. Other times our heads and hearts cannot attune themselves to the think, imagine, and feel the existence of a God who ineffable, unimaginable, and Other (by definition) and we experience precisely a certain absence, depression, or void when we try to imagine God's existence and love.
We should expect this in our lives; Jesus experienced dark nights of the soul. Just before he died on the cross, he cried out in anguish, expressing feelings of being abandoned by God. But inside this seeming agnosticism something beyond his feelings and imagination held him steady and enabled him to give himself over in trust to Someone whom he could no longer imagine as existing. This wasn't doubt, it was real faith. Faith begins exactly where atheism assumes it ends.
If this happened to Jesus, should we be surprised that it happened to Mother Theresa. Henri Nouwen tells how shocked and surprised he was at the deathbed of his mother, a woman of extraordinary, when she began to express anguish and feelings of abandonment by God: "How can this be happening to my mother?" Later, upon reflection, it made sense. His mother had prayed every day of her adult life to die like Jesus. God simply took her prayer and her offer seriously.
Understood correctly a dark night is not a failure in faith but a failure in our imagination: Imagine sitting down to pray one day and having the sure sense that God is real, more real in fact than anything else. At that moment, your faith feels secure both in your head and in your heart. Then imagine a different scene: You are lying in bed, in the dark, one night and, with every ounce of sincerity, intelligence, and will-power, you try to imagine and feel God's existence and come up empty and dry. You are haunted by the fear: "I don't believe! Deep down I'm an atheist!" Does this mean that in the one instance you had strong faith and in the next you had weak faith?
Not necessarily. In the first instance you had a strong imagination and in the second you had a weak one. In one instance, you were able to imagine the existence of God and the other you weren't. Neither determines whether God exists or not. Dark nights of faith have to do with feelings and the imagination and not with God's reality or presence to us.
Why are dark nights of faith given to us? Why does God seemingly sometimes withdraw his presence? Always to make us let go of something that, while it may have been good for awhile, an icon, is now causing some kind of idolatry in our lives.
Whenever we cry out to in faith and ask God why he isn't more deeply present to our sincerity, God's answer is always the same one he gives in Scripture, time and time again: You will find me again when you search for me with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole soul, that is, when you let go of all the things that, right now, in your mind and heart you have mistaken for God!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” this is often quoted by peoples or politicians to emphasize the separation of church and state, to highlight that the church should not meddle in the affairs of government. Is this a valid or absolute premise?
In the gospel Jesus was asked: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" Jesus asked for a coin and said: "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" they replied: “Caesar’s” then Jesus uttered this famous line: “So, repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."
All along Jesus knew about their deceitful plan to entrap Him based on what He will say, that’s why He told them: "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? So Jesus answered them based on the need of the situation. If only they’ve sincerely asked Jesus the same question they could have received a much profound answer from Him such as this one: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God but if Caesar is engaged in corruption, human rights violation, land grabbing, abuse of power, forced disappearance of his political opponents and the like, I advice you to think otherwise.” That could have been Jesus’ reply.
Why are there peoples who protest against their duly constituted governments that sometimes lead to their being overthrown? They protest because they feel that they are not being given what is due them.
Let us all be good and law abiding citizens of our own governments by rightfully paying our taxes and by obeying its statutes but let us also be vigilant so that we will not be abused by our government leaders whose mandate emanates from us.
As to God, let us always give our everything to Him.
John Paul II: The Man from a Distant Land, Who Taught Us to Not Be Afraid. By Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Since I have a valve defect in my heart I distinctively remember what the cardiologist had told me way back during the early nineties: “If you have a cough or sore throat immediately take an antibiotic so that you will not have any infection in your heart’s valve.” I’ve taken the advice seriously and I’ve been doing it since then, so far so good.
To be sick is a part of our life’s cycle no matter how careful we are we will still get sick. It is also a reminder of our mortality. At an appointed time our mortal body will gave way to sickness and we die. As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.”
Tomorrow I’m scheduled to serve at our 6:00 am Mass. I pray to Jesus that I’ll be well tomorrow so that I can serve at His banquet.
I also need your prayers, thank you in advance!
Saturday, October 4, 2008
In the first reading there was a man who had a vineyard he planted the choicest vines of course having plated the best vines he was also expecting to harvest the best crop of good grapes from it.
In the story of creation: (Genesis 1:1-31), God provided everything for Adam and Eve expecting that by doing it they will be faithful to Him. He was expecting faithfulness and obedience to Him no less. Then the serpent came and they allowed themselves to be tempted so they sinned against God, (Genesis 3:1-19).
Just like last Sunday’s gospel (Sept, 28), Jesus gave again another parable to the chief priests and the elders of the people. We may ask, why again the chief priests and the elders of the people? They were again the subject of Jesus’ parable because some of them were only good in worshipping God in thier synagogues but they were lacking when it comes to living their faith.
The parable was about a landowner who planted a vineyard. The landowner put every needed infrastructure for the vineyard to be productive. He then leased it to some tenants and he went on a journey. Harvest time came, so he sent his servants to get his share.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
For me, the gospel depicts the greed and sinfulness of the tenants and of the chief priest and the elders of the people. Their sins are also ours; we too are greedy and sinful. But God in His infinite love and mercy for us had sent first the prophets and eventually His only begotten Son Jesus for us to be reconciled with Him.
The catechism teaches us that we will only get reconciled with God thru the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation. In His love God instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders so that we can avail of this sacrament thru His Priest.
Finally, the gospel is for all of us sinners; for we continuously sin in our thoughts, actions and words. May we always be aware that God’s Love and Devine Mercy is always there for us through the Sacrament of Confession.
Friday, September 26, 2008
In a subtle way, Jesus was already telling the disciples what will happen to Him: His passion and death on the cross. He choose to tell it to them in veiled language so that they will not argue with Him. Otherwise if He told them directly what He will go through. They will naturally protest and say: “We will not allow it to happen to you.” Simply because of the many miracles that He does for them.
Sometimes, our love for Jesus is anchored based on His miracles and not on His Divinity.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
There is a true story about a Priest who was newly installed into his new parish of jurisdiction. Unlike his predecessor he was strict and conservative in his views and actions.
One of the many reforms that he instituted was during Mass he required the parishioners to neatly fall in line according to their seat location during Communion. He instituted other reforms that shocked the rebellious minds of some of the parishioners.
They called him names that was very painful to hear, they even wrote a petition letter to their bishop asking him to replace the said priest. All of their actions failed to deter the priest from instituting further reforms.
When he was about to end his six year tenure, all of the parishioners were asking him to stay on longer for they saw the beautiful fruits of his labors: the orderly communion lines during Mass, the elegant church that he helped build and many other positive transformations in the parish.
Jesus was unfairly labeled by the people of His time as a glutton for food and wine, friend of tax collectors and sinners even evil.
We too are guilty of being presumptuous because sometimes we prejudge our fellowmen by how they look and act.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Mary must have been deeply bothered when she was told by Simeon: “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
From His humble birth in a manger until to His death on the cross Mary was there her heart was being pierced in agony as she witness the persecution of Jesus. Through it all she remained silent and accepted everything with prayer, humble trust and confidence in God.
A number of parents especially mothers are going through a lot of heart wrenching pains not because their son/daughter has gone thru the same route of Jesus. But for the reason of failed expectations and deceit.
Like the Blessed Mother, may you all humbly trust God and may you all find comfort in prayer.
Monday, September 1, 2008
On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass; they are also to abstain from those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of mind and body.
1. The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.
2. If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the liturgy of the word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families.
It is a serious or mortal sin to deliberately omit Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation, as the Church has taught. Reasons such as the necessity to work to support one's family, child care, personal sickness or the care of the sick etc. would excuse a person on particular occasions.
If a priest is not available in an area and only a Liturgy of the Word or a Communion Service is offered the Mass obligation does not "transfer" to such services. As canon 1248 notes, participation is recommended for the spiritual value, especially if Communion is distributed.
Catechism of the Catholic Church Regarding Participation on Sunday Mass and other Holidays of Obligation
2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
2183 "If because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of families." A day of grace and rest from work
2184 Just as God "rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done," human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.
2185 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life, and health. The charity of truth seeks holy leisure- the necessity of charity accepts just work.
2186 Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.
2187 Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord's Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees.
2188 In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church's holy days.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
When Jesus told His disciples that He will suffer greatly and be killed, Peter rebuked Him and said: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” What was in Peter’s mind when he said it? Perhaps, Peter thought that Jesus was already immune from sufferings because He was God and He can do anything to avoid such sufferings.
Like Peter, sometimes this is also our mindset; we think that we are already immune from sufferings because we already know Jesus as our savior, because we already attend Mass read the bible and do good things to our fellowmen. Then, we are already immune form sufferings? From carrying our own cross?
But the testing of our faith is in suffering and in carrying our own cross, we will not fully comprehend who really is God if we will not suffer in our discipleship. Let us remember that Gold is tested by intense fire and before a diamond becomes a gem it first goes through a lot of cutting and refining. Our faith too is tested by constant refining and the fire of sufferings.
Therefore, let us not wonder if we suffer, let us not question God if we have failures in our lives. Instead, let us remain steadfast in our faith, the more that we suffer the stronger that we should cling to Him. The more failures we have the more hopeful we should become that God will eventually rescue us.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
There were instances whenever I visit her that he was also in their house. He was often carrying a small leather rectangle black box. I was wondering what was inside of that box so I asked Maris: What’s inside of that rectangle box that your uncle often carries with him? She told me it’s a Trumpet, she further told me that he’s often in their house to visit her father whose been sick and bedridden and he plays the trumpet for his brother (Odon Letim +). I immediately had this impression that he is a caring and loving man.
Some of my succeeding visits to my wife would be timed when uncle Jaime whom I fondly called then as: The loving trumpet man was also there visiting his sick brother and playing the trumpet for him. I would often hear my father in-law weakly lying on his bed requesting songs for his brother to play, immediately I would hear the trumpet being played by the loving trumpet man.
Eventually, Maris introduced me to him, we shook hands, he gently smiled at me and softly said: How are you? or kumusta ka? Right there, I got an up close and personal impression of him. His gentle smile, his soft yet hoarse voice and his calm demeanor. It simply told me that he was a loving father and husband.
I lost contact with him when my father in-law died because we relocated to a place that was very far from theirs. Until last August 18 when we received the sad information that he peacefully died.
Last Friday (August 22), we went to his house in Moowalk Las Piñas and stayed there to visit his mortal remains. I went to his coffin and silently said my prayers for him then I quietly whispered to him: “I will never forget your gentle smile, your soft voice and your calm demeanor for it already had created an imprint in my life.”
Farewell to you Uncle JAIME the LOVING TRUMPET MAN…
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied. It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering.
Remember, next time your little hut is burning to the ground----it Just may be a smoke signal that summons grace of God. For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
By: David Van Biema (Aug. 2007)
Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979
On Dec. 11, 1979, Mother Teresa, the "Saint of the Gutters," went to Oslo. Dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari and shod in sandals despite below-zero temperatures, the former Agnes Bojaxhiu received that ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, Teresa, whose Missionaries of Charity had grown from a one-woman folly in Calcutta in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care, delivered the kind of message the world had come to expect from her. "It is not enough for us to say, 'I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,'" she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had "[made] himself the hungry one — the naked one — the homeless one." Jesus' hunger, she said, is what "you and I must find" and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world "that radiating joy is real" because Christ is everywhere — "Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive." Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. "Jesus has a very special love for you," she assured Van der Peet. "[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand." The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama. Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction — that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared. And in fact, that appears to be the case. A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, "neither in her heart or in the eucharist." That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'" Says the Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine America and the author of My Life with the Saints, a book that dealt with far briefer reports in 2003 of Teresa's doubts: "I've never read a saint's life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented." Recalls Kolodiejchuk, Come Be My Light's editor: "I read one letter to the Sisters [of Teresa's Missionaries of Charity], and their mouths just dropped open. It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her." The book is hardly the work of some antireligious investigative reporter who Dumpster-dived for Teresa's correspondence. Kolodiejchuk, a senior Missionaries of Charity member, is her postulator, responsible for petitioning for her sainthood and collecting the supporting materials. (Thus far she has been beatified; the next step is canonization.) The letters in the book were gathered as part of that process. The church anticipates spiritually fallow periods. Indeed, the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century coined the term the "dark night" of the soul to describe a characteristic stage in the growth of some spiritual masters. Teresa's may be the most extensive such case on record. (The "dark night" of the 18th century mystic St. Paul of the Cross lasted 45 years; he ultimately recovered.) Yet Kolodiejchuk sees it in St. John's context, as darkness within faith. Teresa found ways, starting in the early 1960s, to live with it and abandoned neither her belief nor her work. Kolodiejchuk produced the book as proof of the faith-filled perseverance that he sees as her most spiritually heroic act. Two very different Catholics predict that the book will be a landmark. The Rev. Matthew Lamb, chairman of the theology department at the conservative Ave Maria University in Florida, thinks Come Be My Light will eventually rank with St. Augustine's Confessions and Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain as an autobiography of spiritual ascent. Martin of America, a much more liberal institution, calls the book "a new ministry for Mother Teresa, a written ministry of her interior life," and says, "It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives. And you know who that is? Everybody. Atheists, doubters, seekers, believers, everyone." Not all atheists and doubters will agree. Both Kolodiejchuk and Martin assume that Teresa's inability to perceive Christ in her life did not mean he wasn't there. In fact, they see his absence as part of the divine gift that enabled her to do great work. But to the U.S.'s increasingly assertive cadre of atheists, that argument will seem absurd. They will see the book's Teresa more like the woman in the archetypal country-and-western song who holds a torch for her husband 30 years after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned. Says Christopher Hitchens, author of The Missionary Position, a scathing polemic on Teresa, and more recently of the atheist manifesto God Is Not Great: "She was no more exempt from the realization that religion is a human fabrication than any other person, and that her attempted cure was more and more professions of faith could only have deepened the pit that she had dug for herself." Meanwhile, some familiar with the smiling mother's extraordinary drive may diagnose her condition less as a gift of God than as a subconscious attempt at the most radical kind of humility: she punished herself with a crippling failure to counterbalance her great successes. Come Be My Light is that rare thing, a posthumous autobiography that could cause a wholesale reconsideration of a major public figure — one way or another. It raises questions about God and faith, the engine behind great achievement, and the persistence of love, divine and human. That it does so not in any organized, intentional form but as a hodgepodge of desperate notes not intended for daylight should leave readers only more convinced that it is authentic — and that they are, somewhat shockingly, touching the true inner life of a modern saint.
Prequel: Near Ecstatic Communion
[Jesus:] Wilt thou refuse to do this for me? ... You have become my Spouse for my love — you have come to India for Me. The thirst you had for souls brought you so far — Are you afraid to take one more step for Your Spouse — for me — for souls? Is your generosity grown cold? Am I a second to you?
[Teresa:] Jesus, my own Jesus — I am only Thine — I am so stupid — I do not know what to say but do with me whatever You wish — as You wish — as long as you wish. [But] why can't I be a perfect Loreto Nun — here — why can't I be like everybody else.
[Jesus:] I want Indian Nuns, Missionaries of Charity, who would be my fire of love amongst the poor, the sick, the dying and the little children ... You are I know the most incapable person — weak and sinful but just because you are that — I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?
— in a prayer dialogue recounted to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier, January 1947
On Sept. 10, 1946, after 17 years as a teacher in Calcutta with the Loreto Sisters (an uncloistered, education-oriented community based in Ireland), Mother Mary Teresa, 36, took the 400-mile (645-km) train trip to Darjeeling. She had been working herself sick, and her superiors ordered her to relax during her annual retreat in the Himalayan foothills. On the ride out, she reported, Christ spoke to her. He called her to abandon teaching and work instead in "the slums" of the city, dealing directly with "the poorest of the poor" — the sick, the dying, beggars and street children. "Come, Come, carry Me into the holes of the poor," he told her. "Come be My light." The goal was to be both material and evangelistic — as Kolodiejchuk puts it, "to help them live their lives with dignity [and so] encounter God's infinite love, and having come to know Him, to love and serve Him in return." It was wildly audacious — an unfunded, single-handed crusade (Teresa stipulated that she and her nuns would share their beneficiaries' poverty and started out alone) to provide individualized service to the poorest in a poor city made desperate by riots. The local Archbishop, Ferdinand Périer, was initially skeptical. But her letters to him, preserved, illustrate two linked characteristics — extreme tenacity and a profound personal bond to Christ. When Périer hesitated, Teresa, while calling herself a "little nothing," bombarded him with notes suggesting that he refer the question to an escalating list of authorities — the local apostolic delegation, her Mother General, the Pope. And when she felt all else had failed, she revealed the spiritual topper: a dramatic (melodramatic, really) dialogue with a "Voice" she eventually revealed to be Christ's. It ended with Jesus' emphatic reiteration of his call to her: "You are I know the most incapable person — weak and sinful but just because you are that — I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?" Mother Teresa had visions, including one of herself conversing with Christ on the Cross. Her confessor, Father Celeste Van Exem, was convinced that her mystical experiences were genuine. "[Her] union with Our Lord has been continual and so deep and violent that rapture does not seem very far," he commented. Teresa later wrote simply, "Jesus gave Himself to me." Then on Jan. 6, 1948, Périer, after consulting the Vatican, finally gave permission for Teresa to embark on her second calling. And Jesus took himself away again.
Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart? — addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated
In the first half of 1948, Teresa took a basic medical course before launching herself alone onto the streets of Calcutta. She wrote, "My soul at present is in perfect peace and joy." Kolodiejchuk includes her moving description of her first day on the job: "The old man lying on the street — not wanted — all alone just sick and dying — I gave him carborsone and water to drink and the old Man — was so strangely grateful ... Then we went to Taltala Bazaar, and there was a very poor woman dying I think of starvation more than TB ... I gave her something which will help her to sleep. — I wonder how long she will last." But two months later, shortly after her major triumph of locating a space for her headquarters, Kolodiejchuk's files find her troubled. "What tortures of loneliness," she wrote. "I wonder how long will my heart suffer this?" This complaint could be understood as an initial response to solitude and hardship were it not for subsequent letters. The more success Teresa had — and half a year later so many young women had joined her society that she needed to move again — the worse she felt. In March 1953, she wrote Périer, "Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself — for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started 'the work.'" Périer may have missed the note of desperation. "God guides you, dear Mother," he answered avuncularly. "You are not so much in the dark as you think ... You have exterior facts enough to see that God blesses your work ... Feelings are not required and often may be misleading." And yet feelings — or rather, their lack — became her life's secret torment. How can you assume the lover's ardor when he no longer grants you his voice, his touch, his very presence? The problem was exacerbated by an inhibition to even describe it. Teresa reported on several occasions inviting a confessor to visit and then being unable to speak. Eventually, one thought to ask her to write the problem down, and she complied. "The more I want him — the less I am wanted," she wrote Périer in 1955. A year later she sounded desolate: "Such deep longing for God — and ... repulsed — empty — no faith — no love — no zeal. — [The saving of] Souls holds no attraction — Heaven means nothing — pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything." At the suggestion of a confessor, she wrote the agonized plea that begins this section, in which she explored the theological worst-possible-case implications of her dilemma. That letter and another one from 1959 ("What do I labour for? If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus — You also are not true") are the only two that sound any note of doubt of God's existence. But she frequently bemoaned an inability to pray: "I utter words of Community prayers — and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give — But my prayer of union is not there any longer — I no longer pray." As the Missionaries of Charity flourished and gradually gained the attention of her church and the world at large, Teresa progressed from confessor to confessor the way some patients move through their psychoanalysts. Van Exem gave way to Périer, who gave way in 1959 to the Rev. (later Cardinal) Lawrence Picachy, who was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph Neuner in 1961. By the 1980s the chain included figures such as Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, N.C. For these confessors, she developed a kind of shorthand of pain, referring almost casually to "my darkness" and to Jesus as "the Absent One." There was one respite. In October 1958, Pope Pius XII died, and requiem Masses were celebrated around the Catholic world. Teresa prayed to the deceased Pope for a "proof that God is pleased with the Society." And "then and there," she rejoiced, "disappeared the long darkness ... that strange suffering of 10 years." Unfortunately, five weeks later she reported being "in the tunnel" once more. And although, as we shall see, she found a way to accept the absence, it never lifted again. Five years after her Nobel, a Jesuit priest in the Calcutta province noted that "Mother came ... to speak about the excruciating night in her soul. It was not a passing phase but had gone on for years." A 1995 letter discussed her "spiritual dryness." She died in 1997.
Tell me, Father, why is there so much pain and darkness in my soul?— to the Rev. Lawrence Picachy, August 1959
Why did Teresa's communication with Jesus, so vivid and nourishing in the months before the founding of the Missionaries, evaporate so suddenly? Interestingly, secular and religious explanations travel for a while on parallel tracks. Both understand (although only one celebrates) that identification with Christ's extended suffering on the Cross, undertaken to redeem humanity, is a key aspect of Catholic spirituality. Teresa told her nuns that physical poverty ensured empathy in "giving themselves" to the suffering poor and established a stronger bond with Christ's redemptive agony. She wrote in 1951 that the Passion was the only aspect of Jesus' life that she was interested in sharing: "I want to ... drink ONLY [her emphasis] from His chalice of pain." And so she did, although by all indications not in a way she had expected. Kolodiejchuk finds divine purpose in the fact that Teresa's spiritual spigot went dry just as she prevailed over her church's perceived hesitations and saw a successful way to realize Jesus' call for her. "She was a very strong personality," he suggests. "And a strong personality needs stronger purification" as an antidote to pride. As proof that it worked, he cites her written comment after receiving an important prize in the Philippines in the 1960s: "This means nothing to me, because I don't have Him." And yet "the question is, Who determined the abandonment she experienced?" says Dr. Richard Gottlieb, a teacher at the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute who has written about the church and who was provided a copy of the book by TIME. "Could she have imposed it on herself?" Psychologists have long recognized that people of a certain personality type are conflicted about their high achievement and find ways to punish themselves. Gottlieb notes that Teresa's ambitions for her ministry were tremendous. Both he and Kolodiejchuk are fascinated by her statement, "I want to love Jesus as he has never been loved before." Remarks the priest: "That's a kind of daring thing to say." Yet her letters are full of inner conflict about her accomplishments. Rather than simply giving all credit to God, Gottlieb observes, she agonizes incessantly that "any taking credit for her accomplishments — if only internally — is sinful" and hence, perhaps, requires a price to be paid. A mild secular analog, he says, might be an executive who commits a horrific social gaffe at the instant of a crucial promotion. For Teresa, "an occasion for a modicum of joy initiated a significant quantity of misery," and her subsequent successes led her to perpetuate it. Gottlieb also suggests that starting her ministry "may have marked a turning point in her relationship with Jesus," whose urgent claims she was finally in a position to fulfill. Being the active party, he speculates, might have scared her, and in the end, the only way to accomplish great things might have been in the permanent and less risky role of the spurned yet faithful lover. The atheist position is simpler. In 1948, Hitchens ventures, Teresa finally woke up, although she could not admit it. He likens her to die-hard Western communists late in the cold war: "There was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance," he says. "They thought, 'Jesus, the Soviet Union is a failure, [but] I'm not supposed to think that. It means my life is meaningless.' They carried on somehow, but the mainspring was gone. And I think once the mainspring is gone, it cannot be repaired." That, he says, was Teresa. Most religious readers will reject that explanation, along with any that makes her the author of her own misery — or even defines it as true misery. Martin, responding to the torch-song image of Teresa, counter proposes her as the heroically constant spouse. "Let's say you're married and you fall in love and you believe with all your heart that marriage is a sacrament. And your wife, God forbid, gets a stroke and she's comatose. And you will never experience her love again. It's like loving and caring for a person for 50 years and once in a while you complain to your spiritual director, but you know on the deepest level that she loves you even though she's silent and that what you're doing makes sense. Mother Teresa knew that what she was doing made sense."
I can't express in words — the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me — for the first time in ... years — I have come to love the darkness — for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus' darkness & pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it [as] a 'spiritual side of your work' as you wrote — Today really I felt a deep joy — that Jesus can't go anymore through the agony — but that He wants to go through it in me.— to Neuner, Circa 1961
There are two responses to trauma: to hold onto it in all its vividness and remain its captive, or without necessarily "conquering" it, to gradually integrate it into the day-by-day. After more than a decade of open-wound agony, Teresa seems to have begun regaining her spiritual equilibrium with the help of a particularly perceptive adviser. The Rev. Joseph Neuner, whom she met in the late 1950s and confided in somewhat later, was already a well-known theologian, and when she turned to him with her "darkness," he seems to have told her the three things she needed to hear: that there was no human remedy for it (that is, she should not feel responsible for affecting it); that feeling Jesus is not the only proof of his being there, and her very craving for God was a "sure sign" of his "hidden presence" in her life; and that the absence was in fact part of the "spiritual side" of her work for Jesus. This counsel clearly granted Teresa a tremendous sense of release. For all that she had expected and even craved to share in Christ's Passion, she had not anticipated that she might recapitulate the particular moment on the Cross when he asks, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" The idea that rather than a nihilistic vacuum, his felt absence might be the ordeal she had prayed for, that her perseverance in its face might echo his faith unto death on the Cross, that it might indeed be a grace, enhancing the efficacy of her calling, made sense of her pain. Neuner would later write, "It was the redeeming experience of her life when she realized that the night of her heart was the special share she had in Jesus' passion." And she thanked Neuner profusely: "I can't express in words — the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me — for the first time in ... years — I have come to love the darkness. " Not that it didn't continue to torment her. Years later, describing the joy in Jesus experienced by some of her nuns, she observed dryly to Neuner, "I just have the joy of having nothing — not even the reality of the Presence of God [in the Eucharist]." She described her soul as like an "ice block." Yet she recognized Neuner's key distinction, writing, "I accept not in my feelings — but with my will, the Will of God — I accept His will." Although she still occasionally worried that she might "turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness," with the passage of years the absence morphed from a potential wrecking ball into a kind of ragged cornerstone. Says Gottlieb, the psychoanalyst: "What is remarkable is that she integrated it in a way that enabled her to make it the organizing center of her personality, the beacon for her ongoing spiritual life." Certainly, she understood it as essential enough to project it into her afterlife. "If I ever become a Saint — I will surely be one of 'darkness.' I will continually be absent from Heaven — to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth," she wrote in 1962. Theologically, this is a bit odd since most orthodox Christianity defines heaven as God's eternal presence and doesn't really provide for regular no-shows at the heavenly feast. But it is, Kolodiejchuk suggests, her most moving statement, since the sacrifice involved is infinite. "When she wrote, 'I am willing to suffer ... for all eternity, if this [is] possible,'" he says, "I said, Wow." He contends that the letters reveal her as holier than anyone knew. However formidable her efforts on Christ's behalf, it is even more astounding to realize that she achieved them when he was not available to her — a bit like a person who believes she can't walk winning the Olympic 100 meters. Kolodiejchuk goes even further. Catholic theologians recognize two types of "dark night": the first is purgative, cleansing the contemplative for a "final union" with Christ; the second is "reparative," and continues after such a union, so that he or she may participate in a state of purity even closer to that of Jesus and Mary, who suffered for human salvation despite being without sin. By the end, writes Kolodiejchuk, "by all indications this was the case with Mother Teresa." That puts her in rarefied company.
A New Ministry
If this brings You glory — if souls are brought to you — with joy I accept all to the end of my life.— to Jesus, undated
But for most people, Teresa's ranking among Catholic saints may be less important than a more general implication of Come Be My Light: that if she could carry on for a half-century without God in her head or heart, then perhaps people not quite as saintly can cope with less extreme versions of the same problem. One powerful instance of this may have occurred very early on. In 1968, British writer-turned-filmmaker Malcolm Muggeridge visited Teresa. Muggeridge had been an outspoken agnostic, but by the time he arrived with a film crew in Calcutta he was in full spiritual-search mode. Beyond impressing him with her work and her holiness, she wrote a letter to him in 1970 that addressed his doubts full-bore. "Your longing for God is so deep and yet He keeps Himself away from you," she wrote. "He must be forcing Himself to do so — because he loves you so much — the personal love Christ has for you is infinite — The Small difficulty you have re His Church is finite — Overcome the finite with the infinite." Muggeridge apparently did. He became an outspoken Christian apologist and converted to Catholicism in 1982. His 1969 film, Something Beautiful for God, supported by a 1971 book of the same title, made Teresa an international sensation. At the time, Muggeridge was something of a unique case. A child of privilege who became a minor celebrity, he was hardly Teresa's target audience. Now, with the publication of Come Be My Light, we can all play Muggeridge. Kolodiejchuk thinks the book may act as an antidote to a cultural problem. "The tendency in our spiritual life but also in our more general attitude toward love is that our feelings are all that is going on," he says. "And so to us the totality of love is what we feel. But to really love someone requires commitment, fidelity and vulnerability. Mother Teresa wasn't 'feeling' Christ's love, and she could have shut down. But she was up at 4:30 every morning for Jesus, and still writing to him, 'Your happiness is all I want.' That's a powerful example even if you are not talking in exclusively religious terms." America's Martin wants to talk precisely in religious terms. "Everything she's experiencing," he says, "is what average believers experience in their spiritual lives writ large. I have known scores of people who have felt abandoned by God and had doubts about God's existence. And this book expresses that in such a stunning way but shows her full of complete trust at the same time." He takes a breath. "Who would have thought that the person who was considered the most faithful woman in the world struggled like that with her faith?" he asks. "And who would have thought that the one thought to be the most ardent of believers could be a saint to the skeptics?" Martin has long used Teresa as an example to parishioners of self-emptying love. Now, he says, he will use her extraordinary faith in the face of overwhelming silence to illustrate how doubt is a natural part of everyone's life, be it an average believer's or a world-famous saint's.
Into the Light of Day
Please destroy any letters or anything I have written.— to Picachy, April 1959
Consistent with her ongoing fight against pride, Teresa's rationale for suppressing her personal correspondence was "I want the work to remain only His." If the letters became public, she explained to Picachy, "people will think more of me — less of Jesus." The particularly holy are no less prone than the rest of us to misjudge the workings of history — or, if you will, of God's providence. Teresa considered the perceived absence of God in her life as her most shameful secret but eventually learned that it could be seen as a gift abetting her calling. If her worries about publicizing it also turn out to be misplaced — if a book of hasty, troubled notes turns out to ease the spiritual road of thousands of fellow believers, there would be no shame in having been wrong — but happily, even wonderfully wrong — twice.
by: Edward W. Desmond in 1989 for Time magazine
Time: What did you do this morning?
Mother Teresa: Pray.
Time: When did you start?
Mother Teresa: Half-past four
Time: And after prayer
Mother Teresa: We try to pray through our work by doing it with Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus. That helps us to put our whole heart and soul into doing it. The dying, the cripple, the mental, the unwanted, the unloved they are Jesus in disguise.
Time: People know you as a sort of religious social worker. Do they understand the spiritual basis of your work?
Mother Teresa: I don't know. But I give them a chance to come and touch the poor. Everybody has to experience that. So many young people give up everything to do just that. This is something so completely unbelievable in the world, no? And yet it is wonderful. Our volunteers go back different people.
Time: Does the fact that you are a woman make your message more understandable?
Mother Teresa: I never think like that.
Time: But don't you think the world responds better to a mother?
Mother Teresa: People are responding not because of me, but because of what we're doing. Before, people were speaking much about the poor, but now more and more people are speaking to the poor. That's the great difference. The work has created this. The presence of the poor is known now, especially the poorest of the poor, the unwanted, the loved, the uncared-for. Before, nobody bothered about the people in the street. We have picked up from the streets of Calcutta 54,000 people, and 23,000 something have died in that one room [at Kalighat].
Time: Why have you been so successful?
Mother Teresa: Jesus made Himself the bread of life to give us life. That's where we begin the day, with Mass. And we end the day with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I don't think that I could do this work for even one week if I didn't have four hours of prayer every day.
Time: Humble as you are, it must be an extraordinary thing to be a vehicle of God's grace in the world.
Mother Teresa: But it is His work. I think God wants to show His greatness by using nothingness.
Time: You are nothingness?
Mother Teresa: I'm very sure of that.
Time: You feel you have no special qualities?
Mother Teresa: I don't think so. I don't claim anything of the work. It's His work. I'm like a little pencil in His hand. That's all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used. In human terms, the success of our work should not have happened, no? That is a sign that it's His work, and that He is using others as instruments - all our Sisters. None of us could produce this. Yet see what He has done.
Time: What is God's greatest gift to you?
Mother Teresa: The poor people.
Time: How are they a gift?
Mother Teresa: I have an opportunity to be with Jesus 24 hours a day.
Time: Here in Calcutta, have you created a real change?
Mother Teresa: I think so. People are aware of the presence and also many, many, many Hindu people share with us. They come and feed the people and they serve the people. Now we never see a person lying there in the street dying. It has created a worldwide awareness of the poor.
Time: Beyond showing the poor to the world, have you conveyed any message about how to work with the poor?
Mother Teresa: You must make them feel loved and wanted. They are Jesus for me. I believe in that much more than doing big things for them.
Time: What's your greatest hope here in India?
Mother Teresa: To give Jesus to all.
Time: But you do not evangelize in the conventional sense of the term.
Mother Teresa: I'm evangelizing by my works of love.
Time: Is that the best way?
Mother Teresa: For us, yes. For somebody else, something else. I'm evangelizing the way God wants me to. Jesus said go and preach to all the nations. We are now in so many nations preaching the Gospel by our works of love. "By the love that you have for one another will they know you are my disciples." That's the preaching that we are doing, and I think that is more real.
Time: Friends of yours say that you are disappointed that your work has not brought more conversions in this great Hindu nation.
Mother Teresa: Missionaries don't think of that. They only want to proclaim the Word of God. Numbers have nothing to do with it. But the people are putting prayer into action by coming and serving the people. Continually people are coming to feed and serve, so many, you go and see. Everywhere people are helping. We don't know the future. But the door is already open to Christ. There may not be a big conversion like that, but we don't know what is happening in the soul.
Time: What do you think of Hinduism?
Mother Teresa: I love all religions, but I am in love with my own. No discussion. That's what we have to prove to them. Seeing what I do, they realize that I am in love with Jesus.
Time: And they should love Jesus too?
Mother Teresa: Naturally, if they want peace, if they want joy, let them find Jesus. If people become better Hindus, better Moslems, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there. They come closer and closer to God. When they come closer, they have to choose.
Time: You and John Paul II, among other Church leaders, have spoken out against certain lifestyles in the West, against materialism and abortion. How alarmed are you?
Mother Teresa: I always say one thing: If a mother can kill her own child, then what is left of the West to be destroyed? It is difficult to explain , but it is just that.
Time: When you spoke at Harvard University a few years ago, you said abortion was a great evil and people booed. What did you think when people booed you?
Mother Teresa: I offered it to our Lord. It's all for Him, no? I let Him say what He wants.
Time: But these people who booed you would say that they also only want the best for women?
Mother Teresa: That may be. But we must tell the truth.
Time: And that is?
Mother Teresa: We have no right to kill. Thou shalt not kill, a commandment of God. And still should we kill the helpless one, the little one? You see we get so excited because people are throwing bombs and so many are being killed. For the grown ups, there is so much excitement in the world. But that little one in the womb, not even a sound? He cannot even escape. That child is the poorest of the poor.
Time: Is materialism in the West an equally serious problem?
Mother Teresa: I don't know. I have so many things to think about. I pray lots about that, but I am not occupied by that. Take our congregation for example, we have very little, so we have nothing to be preoccupied with. The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are. Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not a mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom. There is no television here, no this, no that. This is the only fan in the whole house. It doesn't matter how hot it is, and it is for the guests. But we are perfectly happy.
Time: How do you find rich people then?
Mother Teresa: I find the rich much poorer. Sometimes they are more lonely inside. They are never satisfied. They always need something more. I don't say all of them are like that. Everybody is not the same. I find that poverty hard to remove. The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
Time: What is the saddest place you've ever visited?
Mother Teresa: I don't know. I can't remember. It's a sad thing to see people suffer, especially the broken family, unloved, uncared for. It's a big sadness; it's always the children who suffer most when there is no love in the family. That's a terrible suffering. Very difficult because you can do nothing. That is the great poverty. You feel helpless. But if you pick up a person dying of hunger, you give him food and it is finished.
Time: Why has your order grown so quickly?
Mother Teresa: When I ask young people why they want to join us, they say they want the life of prayer, the life of poverty and the life of service to the poorest of the poor. One very rich girl wrote to me and said for a very long time she had been longing to become a nun. When she met us, she said I won't have to give up anything even if I give up everything. You see, that is the mentality of the young today. We have many vocations.
Time: There's been some criticism of the very severe regimen under which you and your Sisters live.
Mother Teresa: We chose that. That is the difference between us and the poor. Because what will bring us closer to our poor people? How can we be truthful to them if we lead a different life? If we have everything possible that money can give, that the world can give, then what is our connection to the poor? What language will I speak to them? Now if the people tell me it is so hot, I can say you come and see my room.
Time: Just as hot?
Mother Teresa: Much hotter even, because there is a kitchen underneath. A man came and stayed here as a cook at the children's home. He was rich before and became very poor. Lost everything. He came and said, "Mother Teresa, I cannot eat that food." I said, "I am eating it every day." He looked at me and said, "You eat it too? All right, I will eat it also." And he left perfectly happy. Now if I could not tell him the truth, that man would have remained bitter. He would never have accepted his poverty. He would never have accepted to have that food when he was used to other kinds of food. That helped him to forgive, to forget.
Time: What's the most joyful place that you have ever visited?
Mother Teresa: Kalighat. When the people die in peace, in the love of God, it is a wonderful thing. To see our poor people happy together with their families, these are beautiful things. The real poor know what is joy.
Time: There are people who would say that it's an illusion to think of the poor as joyous, that they must be given housing, raised up.
Mother Teresa: The material is not the only thing that gives joy. Something greater than that, the deep sense of peace in the heart. They are content. That is the great difference between rich and poor.
Time: But what about those people who are oppressed? Who are taken advantage of?
Mother Teresa: There will always be people like that. That is why we must come and share the joy of loving with them.
Time: Should the Church's role be just to make the poor as joyous in Christ as they can be made?
Mother Teresa: You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me. Receive a little child, you receive me. Clear.
Time: If you speak to a political leader who could do more for his people, do you tell him that he must do better?
Mother Teresa: I don't say it like that. I say share the joy of loving with your people. Because a politician maybe cannot do the feeding as I do. But he should be clear in his mind to give proper rules and proper regulations to help his people.
Time: It is my job to keep politicians honest, and your job to share joy with the poor.
Mother Teresa: Exactly. And it is to be for the good of the people and the glory of God. This will be really fruitful. Like a man says to me that you are spoiling the people by giving them fish to eat. You have to give them a rod to catch the fish. And I said my people cannot even stand, still less hold a rod. But I will give them the fish to eat, and when they are strong enough, I will hand them over to you. And you give them the rod to catch the fish. That is a beautiful combination, no?
Time: Feminist Catholic nuns sometimes say that you should pour your energy into getting the Vatican to ordain women.
Mother Teresa: That does not touch me.
Time: What do you think of the feminist movement among nuns in the West?
Mother Teresa: I think we should be more busy with our Lord than with all that, more busy with Jesus and proclaiming His Word. What a woman can give, no man can give. That is why God has created them separately. Nuns, women, any woman. Woman is created to be the heart of the family, the heart of love. If we miss that, we miss everything. They give that love in the family or they give it in service, that is what their creation is for.
Time: The world wants to know more about you.
Mother Teresa: No, no. Let them come to know the poor. I want them to love the poor. I want them to try to find the poor in their own families first, to bring peace and joy and love in the family first.
Time: Malcolm Muggeridge once said that if you had not become a Sister and not found Christ's love, you would be a very hard woman. Do you think that is true?
Mother Teresa: I don't know. I have no time to think about these things.
Time: People who work with you say that you are unstoppable. You always get what you want.
Mother Teresa: That's right. All for Jesus.
Time: And if they have a problem with that?
Mother Teresa: For example, I went to a person recently who would not give me what I needed. I said God bless you, and I went on. He called me back and said what would you say if I give you that thing. I said I will give you a "God bless you" and a big smile. That is all. So he said then come, I will give it to you. We must live the simplicity of the Gospel.
Time: You once met Haile Mariam Mengistu, the much feared communist leader of Ethiopia and an avowed atheist. You asked him if he said his prayers. Why did you risk that?
Mother Teresa: He is one more child of God. When I went to China, one of the top officials asked me, "What is a communist to you?" I said, "A child of God." Then the next morning the newspapers reported that Mother Teresa said communists are children of God. I was happy because after a long, long time the name God was printed in the papers in China. Beautiful.
Time: Are you ever afraid?
Mother Teresa: No. I am only afraid of offending God. We are all human beings, that is our weakness, no? The devil would do anything to destroy us, to take us away from Jesus.
Time: Where do you see the devil at work?
Mother Teresa: Everywhere. When a person is longing to come closer to God he puts temptation in the way to destroy the desire. Sin comes everywhere, in the best of places.
Time: What is your greatest fear?
Mother Teresa: I have Jesus, I have no fear.
Time: What is your greatest disappointment?
Mother Teresa: I do the will of God, no? In doing the will of God there is no disappointment.
Time: Do your work and spiritual life become easier with time?
Mother Teresa: Yes, the closer we come to Jesus, the more we become the work. Because you know to whom you are doing it, with whom you are doing it and for whom you are doing it. That is very clear. That is why we need a clean heart to see God.
Time: What are your plans for the future?
Mother Teresa: I just take one day. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come. We have only today to love Jesus.
Time: And the future of the order?
Mother Teresa: It is His concern.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
A new responsibility for us: Purifying the Altar Vessels after Communion and serving as Sacristan during daily Mass.
After we have purified the vessels using the purificator, one of us will have to drink the precious blood of Jesus with the small particles of His body in it. Then we now have to carefully arrange and prepare the Chalice, Purificator, Paten, Pall and the Corporal for the next Mass.
We did not object because we knew that this is another opportunity for us to grow in faith and knowledge in the church.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
There are no winners in war, all are losers.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Just like the Pharisees and the scribes some of us are so good at observing the church traditions but when it comes to living our faith we are still wanting.
For example, a lady who’s always in the church to lead the novena prayers but when she’s at home she’s a domineering figure.
Another example, A Lay Minister who is faithful to his church obligation but he is not faithful to his obligation towards his family.
The Pharisees and the scribes were very particular of the fake exterior, the pretence. But Jesus is very particular on the pure interior, the real us, the things that we do when nobody’s around to see. ...
Monday, July 14, 2008