Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “admirable teacher of the art of loving”

My fondest memory of Mother Teresa is that final very warm embrace that we exchanged the last time we met, which was in May 1997.

She was sick in bed. I went with the intention of staying only a few minutes but at one point Mother Teresa started to talk about the work of God entrusted to her. It was her Magnificat, and it was something wonderful! She was radiant. That embrace has remained with me as a sign, a promise that she would continue to love us in a preferential way, because that was how she had always loved us. Ever since she left this earth I have counted her among our holy protectors, and I was certain, as everyone else was, that she would be declared a saint.

She fulfilled to perfection what the Pope describes as the “feminine genius”, something that Mary characteristically personified. She was not invested with a ministerial position. She was invested with love, with charity, the greatest gift, the greatest charism heaven created.

Mother Teresa is our model. She is the admirable teacher of the art of loving.

She truly loved everyone. She didn’t ask people whether they were Catholic or Hindu or Muslim. They were people and in that humanity rested all their dignity.

Mother Teresa took the initiative in loving. She went out to look for the poorest of the poor. She had in fact been sent by God for them.

Perhaps more than anyone else She recognized the presence of Jesus in them. “You did it to me,” in fact, was her motto.

Mother Teresa “made herself one” with everyone. She made herself poor with the poor, but she especially made herself poor “like” the poor. And in this her actions were very different from those of a social worker or a volunteer. She didn’t want to have anything that a poor person couldn’t allow himself or herself to have. It is well known, for example, that she and her sisters refused to accept a simple washing machine. Many people couldn’t comprehend her refusal. “But in this day and age!” they said. But since the poor couldn’t have one she didn’t want one either.

She took upon herself all the misery of the poor, their sufferings, their illnesses, their deaths.

Mother Teresa loved the others as she loved herself to the point of offering them her very ideal of life. For example, she invited the temporary volunteer workers who assisted her to look for their own ‘Calcutta’ when they returned home. After all, she wisely observed, “The poor are pretty much everywhere.”

Mother Teresa undoubtedly loved her enemies. She never wasted time responding to the absurd accusations made against her. Instead she prayed for her enemies.

After her death I learned even more about her and I eagerly read books about her. I admired Mother Teresa especially for her determination. She had an ideal: the poorest of the poor. And she remained faithful to it. Her whole life was aimed in that direction. In this aspect too she is a source of inspiration to me to remain faithful to the ideal that God has entrusted to me.

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