Blessed Teresa of Calcutta woman of unshakable faith
Mother Teresa's legacy for a "new evangelisation" in the Year of Faith
A house built on courage and faith, a home where love reigns
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HOMILY OF THE FUNERAL MASS FOR MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA
13 September 1997
The Holy Father Pope John Paul II has given voice to what so many people of every condition have seen in this woman of unshakable faith....The story of Mother Teresa's life is no mere humanitarian exploit, as she would be the first to declare. It is a story of biblical faith. ... . In silence and contemplation, in prayerful adoration before the Tabernacle, she learned to see the true face of God in every suffering human being. In prayer she discovered the essential truth which underlies the Church's social teaching and her religious and humanitarian work in every age and in every part of the world: Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word made flesh, the Redeemer of mankind, has wished to identify himself with every person - especially the poor, the sick and the needy - "you did it to me". ..."The fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace". Let us begin to change the world for the better by turning in humble prayer to God, the Creator of all that exists. Let us be renewed in faith.
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
distinguished Authorities from India and from around the world,
bereaved Missionaries of Charity,
The hour has arrived for us to say a final farewell to the late Mother Teresa. We have come here from many corners of the world to demonstrate our affection and gratitude and render a fitting homage. From the cold bier, the unforgettable, dear Mother continues to speak to us and seems to repeat the Lord's words:
"It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
1. Herein lies the heart of the Gospel, the evangelical message of God's love for us, his creatures, and of our love for him - a love which demands to be made real and effective in our dealings with one another. Mother Teresa of Calcutta understood fully the Gospel of love. She understood it with every fibre of her indomitable spirit and every ounce of energy of her frail body. She practiced it with her whole heart and through the daily toil of her hands. Crossing the frontiers of religious, cultural and ethnic differences, she has taught the world this necessary and salutary lesson: "It is more blessed to give than to receive".
2. At the close of a century which has known terrible extremes of darkness, the light of conscience has not been altogether extinguished. Holiness, goodness, kindness, love are still recognized when they appear on history's stage. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II has given voice to what so many people of every condition have seen in this woman of unshakable faith: her extraordinary spiritual vision, her attentive and self-sacrificing love of God in each person she met, her absolute respect for the value of every human life and her courage in facing so many challenges. His Holiness, who knew Mother Teresa so well, wishes this funeral ceremony to be a great prayer of gratitude to God for having given her to the Church and to the world.
3. The story of Mother Teresa's life is no mere humanitarian exploit, as she would be the first to declare. It is a story of biblical faith. It can only be explained as a proclamation of Jesus Christ by - in her own words - "loving and serving Him in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, both materially and spiritually, recognizing in them and restoring to them the image and likeness of God" (Constitutions of the Missionaries of Charity, I, 1). It has been said that Mother Teresa might have done more to fight the causes of poverty in the world. Mother Teresa was aware of this criticism. She would shrug as if saying: 'while you go on discussing causes and explanations, I will kneel beside the poorest of the poor and attend to their needs'. The beggar, the leper, the victim of AIDS do not need discussions and theories; they need love. The hungry cannot wait for the rest of the world to come up with the perfect answer; they need effective solidarity. The dying, the handicapped and the defenceless unborn, who are without a constituency in the utopian ideologies which, especially in the last two hundred years, have been trying to model the perfect world, need a loving human presence and a caring hand.
The spiritual legacy which Mother Teresa leaves us is all contained in those words of Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Matthew: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40). In silence and contemplation, in prayerful adoration before the Tabernacle, she learned to see the true face of God in every suffering human being. In prayer she discovered the essential truth which underlies the Church's social teaching and her religious and humanitarian work in every age and in every part of the world: Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word made flesh, the Redeemer of mankind, has wished to identify himself with every person - especially the poor, the sick and the needy - "you did it to me".
Mother Teresa of Calcutta lit a flame of love, which her spiritual daughters and sons, the Missionaries of Charity, must now carry forward. The world badly needs the light and warmth of that flame. The homage we are paying to the memory of this humble woman religious, whose great love for India and for this city of Calcutta did not make her less a citizen of the world, will be in vain if we - believers and men and women of good will everywhere - do not take up where she left off. The poor are still with us. And because they are the reflection of the Crucified Son of God, they must be at the very heart of our personal concern, of political action, of religious commitment.
Speaking at the Angelus prayer on Sunday last, the Holy Father recalled these other words of Mother Teresa: "The fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace". Let us begin to change the world for the better by turning in humble prayer to God, the Creator of all that exists. Let us be renewed in faith. Let our hearts be filled with genuine love. Let each one personally do something useful and demanding for those in need. Only when we learn to see others, no matter how different and removed from us, as our beloved brothers and sisters will humanity learn the ways of peace. Then truly we will have done "something beautiful for God".
As we commend our sister to her heavenly reward, may all who have admired this extraordinary woman strive to learn the compelling lesson which she has given the world, a lesson which is also the path of our human happiness: "it is more blessed to give than to receive".
5. Dear Mother Teresa, the consoling dogma of the Communion of Saints allows us to feel ever close to you. The entire Church thanks you for your luminous example and promises to make it our heritage.
Today on behalf of Pope John Paul II, who sent me here, I offer you a final earthly farewell and in his name I thank you for all that you have done for the poor of the world. They are favourites of Jesus. They are also the favourites of our Holy Father, his Vicar on earth. It is in his name that I place on your coffin the flower of our
Mother Teresa's legacy for a "new evangelisation" in the Year of Faith
by Thomas D’Souza Archbishop of Kolkata
The archbishop of Kolkata talks about the Blessed on the day of her liturgical remembrance, as well as about the importance of prayer, meeting others, service and dedication to priests. Mother Teresa's was able to bring together India and the whole world, breaking down barriers.
(AsiaNews) 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 Himself."
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 society.
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 priest."
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."
ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
ON OCCASION OF THE MEETING WITH MOTHER THERESA
DURING THE VISIT TO "NIRMAL HRIDAY ASHRAM"
Monday, 3 February 1986
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am grateful to God that my first stop in Calcutta has been at Nirmal Hriday Ashram, a place that bears witness to the primacy of love.
When Jesus Christ was teaching his disciples hour they could best show their love for him, he said: " Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" . Through Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, and through the many others who have served here, Jesus has been deeply loved in people whom society often considers " the least of our brethren".
Nirmal Hriday is a place of suffering, a house familiar with anguish and pain, a home for the destitute and dying. But, at the same time, Nirmal Hriday is a place of hope, a house built on courage and faith, a home where love reigns, a home filled with love.
In Nirmal Hriday, the mystery of human suffering meets the mystery of faith and love. And in this meeting, the deepest questions of human existence make themselves heard. The pain-filled body and spirit cries out: "Why? What is the purpose of suffering? Why must I die?" And the answer that comes, often in unspoken ways of kindness and compassion, is filled with honesty and faith: " I cannot fully answer all your questions; I cannot take away all your pain. But of this I am sure: God loves you with an everlasting love. You are precious in his sight. In him I love you too. For in God we are truly brothers and sisters".
Nirmal Hriday proclaims the profound dignity of every human person. The loving care which is shown here bears witness to the truth that the worth of a human being is not measured by usefulness or talents, by health or sickness, by age or creed or race. Our human dignity comes from God our Creators in whose image we are all made. No amount of privation or suffering can ever remove this dignity, for we are always precious in the eyes of God.
The Apostle Saint John tells us: "Our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active" . May these words of Saint John be true for each one of us. May the courageous love and living faith which we find here at Nirmal Hriday inspire in us the same real and active love.
Motu Proprio: Porta Fidei
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Did you know?
The first Motu Proprio was issued by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484*.
*The Catholic Encycopedia - New Advent
Prayer for the Year of Faith
Motu Proprio: Porta Fidei
Plenary Indulgence granted for Year of Faith
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Homily on opening the door of faith - Cardinal Piacenza
Pope Announces "year of faith"
Official Year of Faith website of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization