We have a Saint!

On September 5th, seven of us piled into a minivan and set out for the South Bronx to attend a Mass of Thanksgiving with the Missionaries of Charity for the Canonization of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  We found parking a couple blocks away and started off toward the convent which is nestled between some of New York City’s Project communities.  As we waited at a crosswalk, a loud voice shouted from the nearby Projects, “Hey Sistas!”  Slightly startled, we turned to find a seemingly street-wise young man with his hands raised and smiling from ear to ear.   Seeing that he had our full attention he shouted, “Sistas!  We have a Saint!  Mother Teresa! Praise be Jesus!”  To which we cheered and responded, “AMEN!”

“We have a Saint!” In these days of reflection on the life and vocation of Mother Teresa it is impossible not to stand in awe of a woman so wholly devoted to Christ and His poor.  Every facet of her life and of her being inspire and draw us more deeply into the mystery of ‘life in Christ’: her desire to conform her will to the Divine Will, her courage to step out in faith and leave her beloved Loretto Sisters, the genius of her simplicity, her unwavering faithfulness and joy in decades of darkness, and her profound love for God and His people.

“We have a Saint!”  She is a saint of our times and in a particular way she is saint who lived the Charism of Life.  In her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech she famously remarked: “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion.” However, her reverence for the dignity of every human person went far beyond opposition to this evil. She said: “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.  The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor.”

Mother Teresa’s witness provokes us to examine our own lives, to ask ourselves: How do I spend my love?  Am I aware of those in my life, my circle of friends, family and neighbors who may feel unwanted or unloved at times?  Do I extend myself beyond those I have immediate contact with?  Am I indifferent?

Mother Teresa had a way of making the most profound truths simple.  She said that Jesus made it easy for us to love Him. “He said: ‘Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me’, for I was hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, unwanted, untouchable, – and you did it to me.  I call this theGospel on five fingers – five words: You- did- it- to -me.  Jesus cannot tell a lie.  In your five fingers you have your love for Jesus.  Look at your fingers often and remind yourself of this love.

“As we express our gratitude to the Lord for the gift of this wonderful new Saint, may she inspire us to live lives of service to others and imitate her great faith.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the life and witness of Your beloved Mother Teresa.  We pray for the courage to seek Your will in our lives.  We pray for the grace to trust again and again in Your love and providence in our lives.  We ask for a purity of heart and mind to see You in all those we encounter and to love unreservedly.    We ask this through the intercession of St. Teresa of Calcutta.  Amen.