Tag Archives: Mother Teresa

Road danger: beauty seen and unseen

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Having a tiny parish population wise but with a vast territory nestled in the clouds on top of the absolutely beautiful Smoky Mountains, the Blue Mountains – which beckon one to praise God – requires lots of driving. Especially here in this most visited of National Parks, one gets accustomed to tourists who either drive way too fast (usually motorcycle racers: Be careful!) or way too slow (the elderly on vacation just enjoying the scenery: that’s great!). But then there are the locals who might be tempted to rejoice not too much in the beauty round about them so that they can just be intent on getting to where they are going (they’ve seen it all before: that’s cool too). But then there are the druggies, myopic in ignoring everything, including safety, entitled to be on the road all by themselves and taking revenge on anyone else who is on the road for the crime of also being on the road at the same time as them (which is all boring to witness: sigh).

road danger habitual crasher

This guy (who knows what’s up with him…), inches from the back bumper, looks like he crashes into the backs of vehicles as a pass-time, with both corners on the front being damaged.

But can we not see more beauty in the soul of this guy than all the rest of the beauty of creation? I mean, you remember Mother Teresa’s meditation in the hospital, don’t you? Here’s a summary:

“Jesus is the Word Made Flesh. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross. Jesus is the Sacrifice offered at the Holy Mass. For the sins of the world and mine. Jesus is the Hungry, to be fed. Jesus is the Thirsty, to be satiated. Jesus is the Drunkard, to listen to him. Jesus is the Drug Addict, to befriend him. Jesus is the Prostitute, to remove from danger and befriend.”

Shocking? Jesus has redeemed all. Not all are saved. We want to share the greatest love of our lives to help introduce many more to Jesus, do we not? “What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.”

I mean, we know nothing about this guy, do we? No. Could he actually not be a druggie or some kind of full-of-himself road rager? Could he have gone through some pretty bad experiences that’s he’s re-living with all too real flashbacks, the all too real PTSD when one is going through an episode?

But even if not, even if he doesn’t see all the beauty around him, even if he doesn’t see that God loved the world so much as to send His only-begotten Son, even if all his entitled rage is entirely his fault, isn’t this exactly the person that Jesus died to save? Yes.

And that person is us all too often speeding through life so as not to notice God in this way and that, right? But Jesus is very good and very kind.

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San Lorenzo in Damaso: when Church – State politics get hot go to Confession

Jumping off bus 46, I headed into the side entrance of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso. Greeting one of the elderly security guards – one of the quiet Saint Joeph like personages one sometimes meets – I then took this picture at a side chapel where a priest might say some prayers of thanksgiving after offering Holy Mass.

The security guard, spying with perpicasity my devotion, tapped me on the shoulder and silently bid me to follow him. He never once spoke. He pointed at a side altar and then at the explanation written out for pilgrims on the altar rail.

Many relics are above the altar as you can see, including those of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I had much to do with Mother Teresa. She was a huge influence in my life. Sorry, I’m nostalgic. I just about cried.

This is the Blessed Sacrament chapel whose altar rail and floor are featured in a certain book, as is the Tabernacle.

Glancing up one sees Saint Lawrence.

A most important place in the Basilica…

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Seen at the soup kitchen

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The day I saw Mother Teresa’s halo

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Catholic iconography usually depicts saints with a halo, a ring of light or a shining brightness radiating from the person’s head or entire person, symbolizing the holiness of the person, a reflection of God’s goodness in him or her. This has nothing to do with any chakra wierdness, and nothing to do with Microsoft’s digital ultra violent war games. The halo instead has everything to do with Jesus, who is Himself the Light shining in the darkness, the Lumen gentium, the Light of the Nations. Artistic license is one thing, actually seeing such a phenomenon is quite another. Back in the day, I must say that I did see the halo of Mother Teresa.

I was a young seminarian spending the Summer with the Missionaries of Charity, firstly in Calcutta for a number of weeks and then in Byculla district of what is today called Mumbai for a number of months. I slept on the surgery gurney of the medical room of the tuberculosis ward and was sitting out on the front steps of the entrance of this building when Mother stepped onto the compound of the old warehouse buildings that were now given over to the charity of the Missionaries.

All the sisters rushed to greet Mother with great joy, singing and dancing and receiving the traditional Indian greeting from her, all except for one sister, the religious superior of that local community at that time. That particular sister had remained in the tuberculosis ward. I didn’t know what was about to happen, but this non-participation in the welcoming of Mother Teresa was not at all a surprise to me. I had already had my own rather ferocious if polite discussion with this sister, reprimanding her for a number of things, both religious and theological, regardless of my total lack of status. I greatly feared for her fidelity to her vocation.

Meanwhile, I was paying close attention to Mother Teresa herself amidst all the joy and singing and dancing and greetings. She was absolutely shining, and not just around her head, but from her whole person, but truly particularly from around her head, a real light, supernatural but somehow visible, unmistakable as an interior light radiating in the darkness of this world. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing with my jaw dropped and eyes wide open. I rubbed my eyes. There it was, such a light!

There was also something else I saw, a certain determination to do something she had to do. She was making her way in my direction, that is, in the direction of the steps of the tuberculosis ward on which I was sitting. The sisters suddenly let her continue alone. She went by me inside the tuberculosis ward and straight into the medical room (my room, as it were) where the local superior was awaiting her. “Ah!” thought I. “This was the purpose of the trip.” I couldn’t help hear what then happened, with Mother Teresa immediately launching into a reprimand of that sister, who rebelliously defended her rebelliousness. “Wow!” thought I. “This is how to give someone a much needed smack-down, with firmness, respect, clarity, incisiveness.” This was the light of Jesus shining where it was needed in this world.

Meanwhile, as we would come to know, Mother Teresa was being sustained by the Light that is Christ even while living herself in a darkness that would crush the rest of us if we were without the light of Jesus Himself. It is the darkness of the spiritual eclipse on Calvary, when all of hell’s darkness broke out in an attempt to cover that light which cannot but burn through the smoke and soot. Jesus said that when He was to be lifted up on the Cross, He would draw all to Himself. Mother Teresa allowed herself in His grace to be drawn to the Cross to be in solidarity with Jesus even as He is in solidarity with us. And this light of Jesus could not be hidden within her. Whatever she was feeling on the inside, she radiated the true joy of the Holy Spirit and was genuinely happen despite her dark agony. That joy of the Holy Spirit was the light I saw radiating from her, a spiritual light, but a light I could actually see with my physical eyes.

I have much more to write about Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. I have a lifetime of being with them and their apostolate among the poorest of the poor. But today I’m off to the hermitage (now 4:54 AM…) to get some things, as the property on which it sits is being sold with urgency. Then I rush back for Noon Mass at the parish. More later.

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Update: Mother Teresa Humility List

mother teresa of calcutta baby

I have difficulty with some of these. What about you?

1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.*
15. Choose always the more difficult task.

*  I have difficulty especially with number 14. However, I wouldn’t take it too seriously, for the reason that also Mother Teresa knew she had to stick to her guns when she knew she was right on behalf of others who were suffering. Behold, the most outrageously cool moment in the life of Mother Teresa. This always makes me laugh out loud. Totally cool! NEVER back down when you are right especially when other people are suffering.

I remember showing this clip to my mom way back in I think 1991. She didn’t know much about Mother Teresa, but knew I had been to Calcutta and the Byculla district of Mumbai at Ashadaan. She was very much impressed with the scene of the little kid in the crib being calmed down by the sister.

Update: Number 14 applies to the Living Truth such as Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate, that is, when someone is being deadly belligerent. Pilate asked “what?” not “Who?” is Truth. If you need to teach those who are being difficult, as Jesus did with parables, do it. But if it’s just about what kind of wall-paper goes up in the TB ward, well, who cares. Let the other person win. For the rest, remember Saint Augustine’s statement:

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