(AsiaNews) - Today's is the feast day of Mother
Teresa of Kolkata, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, who was beatified by
John Paul II in 2003. On the day of her liturgical remembrance, which is also the
anniversary of her death in 1997, Mgr Thomas
D'Souza, archbishop of Kolkata, talks about her and her work of love and
charity. He also stresses the importance of prayer and silence, active moments in
one's faith to give oneself totally to others. Here is the reflection Mgr D'Souza
gave AsiaNews on Mother
Teresa's legacy in the Year of Faith and for the 'new evangelisation'.
As we celebrate the feast day of Mother Teresa, we
focus on her legacy of love and her legacy of service, respect, and human
dignity for every human being, irrespective of caste, creed, and colour. We also
focus on what the missionaries of charity are doing in the Church to continue to
continue this legacy.
Mother Teresa, "a humble missionary of love," was a
person of faith, rooted in prayer, who proclaimed the Gospel, living her life
as a total gift to the poorest of the poor. She always said that the constant
prayer was a part of her way of life, that the fruit of silence is prayer, that
the fruit of prayer is faith. In this Year of faith, her legacy of prayer and
silence will lead people to a deeper faith. In her own words, "We must know
Jesus in prayer before we can see him in the broken bodies of the poor. [. . .]
Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God's gift to
In this Year of Faith, we Catholics are urged to
emulate Mother Teresa and her faith in Jesus Christ. She always insisted on the
primacy of a God-centred faith as the explanation of her work. The way in which
Mother lived her life, her way of life faith, leads to love, and love leads to
action, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.
Therefore, faith for Mother was not only a static
thing; it was very dynamic, a sort of energy that came from Jesus. Faith in him
had to be lived in action, which she lived to the full. In this Year of Faith,
we must keep her in mind and keep our Lord Jesus in front of us. We continue to
live her faith in the various activities that will be held in different
parishes and different dioceses as Christians and witnesses to our faith
The new evangelisation is about a new way to live
our faith with renewed zeal and a new sharing of faith with one another. For example,
Mother Teresa reminds everyone that the evangelising mission of the Church
passes through charity, nourished by prayer, listening to God's word. For the Blessed
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, God is not asking us to be successful; he is asking
us to faithful to his command.
Our beloved John Paul II gave new emphasis to the
call for evangelisation, making us more aware of the urgency of our times and
exhorting us to a new zeal to unveil the love of Christ towards all people. He called
us to a new commitment to "sow Christian hope in hearts thirsting for the
living God and this is precisely the legacy of Mother, satiating the thirst of
Christ, the new evangelisation."
Mother Teresa, as a unifying Charism, is symbolic of
the unity that Christ announces. Here in India, Mother is worship and honoured
by tens of thousands of people, cutting across all religious and cultural
denominations. The love for Mother is universal, so it is in the global
At Mother's funeral in 1997, where I was present, we
had the impression that Mother Teresa had brought the whole of India and the
whole world together. Because of her, the force of charity and love surpasses
all other considerations and concentrates only on what is good for the other. That
is what Mother saw. She saw what was good for others; not what divides but
rather what unites. I felt the effects and the results of her love for people
and that came through her love of God and her experience of God's love for her.
I am a witness to daily miracles in the houses of Mother
Teresa. Miracles happen in the lives of so many, every day. When I visit, I can
see the joy in the lives of the simple ones I meet, and that in itself is a
miracle. When I recently visited Nirmal Hriday ('Pure Heart'), Mother's first
house, I found a newly renovated house. In all those people, one can see joy on
their faces filled with hope and peace.
That is true for so many. The very fact that we get
inspiration and energy to live in spite of so many challenges is itself a
miracle. I, myself, feel her humility. I remember meeting her as a young priest,
after her Nobel Prize, in Ranchi. I had not met her before because I had studied
in Ranchi, not in Kolkata. I had read only her books.
After I told our bishop that I wanted to meet her, he
brought her unannounced to the school where I was working as a young priest. She
was so simple, exuding joy.
As she was leaving, in my admiration and enthusiasm,
I kissed her hand. Spontaneously, she said, "No. I kiss the anointed hands of a
Mother had love and devotion to priests. In fact,
the Missionaries of Charity have adopted each a priest for whom they intercede.
In a speech at the worldwide retreat for Priests in October 1984, Mother Teresa
said, "When the priest is there, then can we have our altar and our tabernacle
and our Jesus. Only the priest puts Jesus there for us. [. . .] Jesus wants to
go there, but we cannot bring him unless you first give him to us. This is why
I love priests so much. We could never be what we are and do the things we do
without you priests who first bring Jesus to us."
(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)