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On Sept 4, 2016, Pope Francis will canonize (that is, proclaim as saint) Blessed Teresa de Calcutta and from then on will be inscribed in the list of saints of the Catholic Church.

A petite, humble nun with a huge heart, determined to fulfill God’s Will for love, Blessed Teresa de Calcutta, a nun of Our Lady of Loreto working in India, received “the call within the call”, as she herself said. With the necessary ecclesiastical permission, she founded the Missionaries of Charity whose mission is to care for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

Starting with 13 followers, the Congregation grew to more than 5150 active and contemplative sisters serving in 758 houses in 139 countries as of 2015. The Missionaries of Charity family also includes active or contemplative brothers, and MC fathers and as a Catholic institution, the MC family runs orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers worldwide, caring for refugees, the sick, the abandoned, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless, and victims of floods, epidemics, and famine.

Her example inspired millions of lives, for her determined and generous charitable efforts to take care of the poorest of the poor, the neglected, and all those who suffer, independently of their religion.

It is a known fact that after seeing all the sufferings in many people, Mother Teresa experienced doubts in her faith and in God’s existence for years, a doubt which most people have experienced as well. Her interior suffering lasted for years: afrequent phenomenon in the lives of the saints which St. John of the Cross himself called a “dark night in the inn”. It was the same feeling which Our Lord had on the Cross when He cried out: “Eli, Eli, lama sabacthani”, that is, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me (Mt 27:46)!

But what really matters is the fact that Mother Teresa had faith and entrusted herself into God’s hands. She withstood the trial and persevered in her vocation to serve the poorest of the poor for love of God till the end. How was this possible?

John Paul II once asked: “Where did Mother Teresa find the strength and perseverance to place herself completely at the service of others? She found it in prayer and in the silent contemplation of Jesus Christ, his Holy Face, his Sacred Heart.”

Benedict XVI mentioned Teresa of Calcutta three times and he also used her life to clarify one of his main points of his first encyclical, Deus caritas est:

“In the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta we have a clear illustration of the fact that time devoted to God in prayer not only does not detract from effective and loving service to our neighbour but is in fact the inexhaustible source of that service.” Mother Teresa specified that “It is only by mental prayer and spiritual reading that we can cultivate the gift of prayer.”

And Blessed Mother Teresa herself said:
“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”

Dear brethren in Christ, the future St. Teresa of Calcutta is an example for all of us to follow.  Let us thank God for giving us a great saint whose entire life of love, service and total self-giving to those who are suffering, is an embodiment of Jesus’ words in Mt 25:34-40:

“Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, 0 blessed of 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, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.’”

Let us pray for the fruits of her canonization, for the poorest of the poor, the sick and neglected by the society; for the sanctity, fidelity, apostolic zeal of the religious sisters, brothers and priests of the Missionaries of Charity family and ask Him to send us more vocations, more laborers to his vineyard.

Finally, may we follow St. Teresa de Calcutta’s example of being an instrument of God’s mercy and love for those who are suffering, being each one of us with our prayers and actions, a balm of relief of God’s tenderness and love to the poor, the sick and the neglected.

To the future, St. Teresa of Calcutta, thank you and pray for us!

Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei.

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