TRIBUTE TO A LIVING SAINT
1910 - 1997
September 5, 1997, 12:30 PM CST
If there is one person most likely to truly know and understand human dignity and life at their very core, there was none other than Mother Teresa who fitted the position best. She knew exactly where dignity and compassion were lacking and she struck the issues right at their very grassroot. She came to the rescue of the needy, the sick, the malnourished, the downtrodden and suffering. She fervently fought against causes that contribute to degradation of human dignity and life such as abortion, contraception and divorce, most such lifestyles that are afflicting this world while many people fall for their snares. She fought against them by voicing out with great conviction, calling authorities to put a stop to all of them regardless if these would cause suffering in her popularity because she knew she was fighting against the advocacies of majority of the western and modern world. Nevertheless, in her frail and small physical frame, the voice of an angel from heaven could be heard across continents; the message was clear, and she left that legacy amongst us.
Why did she deserve the title of "A Living Saint"? Well, why has it been that when people look for reference to a person who is charitable, compassionate, self-giving, selfless, and virtuous, they would say to the line of "That can only be Mother Teresa"? Her unique and saintly traits have earned her name the prestige of being used as some sort of "signature label" when these virtues abound. The name "Mother Teresa" has been synonymous to "charity", the greatest virtue of all.
I have also labeled Pope John Paul II as "A Living Saint" and I do believe he is indeed. Both our pope and Mother Teresa have worked hard on the same cause and purpose - to make sure that the value of human life is preserved in all walks of life - and that's what constitutes the precious dignity of the person. We have a "father to all" in the pope, and we had a "mother to all" in Mother Teresa. I feel the whole Church has been orphaned of a loving mother here on earth.
I ponder that one thing Mother Teresa loved about herself was her religious vocation - being a nun. No, Mother Teresa did not aspire to come after the position that feminist women wanted in the Church - the priesthood. Neither did she seek to overthrow it. Instead, she excelled well on her vocation as a true, loving and caring mother to people inside and outside the Church. She loved our dear priests and looked up with respect to them for their position of being "alter christus" (other Christs) and for their connection to the Eucharist - consecration of the Eucharist as the Real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Her vocation to served the poor and her love for our priests showed her love and obedience to Christ, our Lord. She did not sublimate herself against the priesthood but rather, she complemented it by its female counterpart in the Church, which is being a nun. That is why in turn, priests have loved and revered the nuns due to Mother Teresa's exemplary existence in this vocation. I hope that more nuns greatly appreciate their vocation just as Mother Teresa did. And so, she empowered the nunnery and put it in its proper and useful place in the Church according to God's will and way thru this important religious vocation.
Yes, she cared for people even towards those outside of the Roman Catholic Church. She gave them what they needed most first (food, shelter, love, healing) but not to the point of spoiling them. She did not preach from a high pedestal either, talking about the Word of God. Rather, she showed the Word of God through actions. By her examples of true love and care towards people, they simply seeked what she was made of and that was how she drew them not to herself but to our Church. Mother Teresa necessarily practised what others only preached.
This is a great loss to the world - to lose a living saint amongst us. I have cried and grieved like a daughter who has lost a great mother because for many times in the past years, when Mother Teresa suffered a stroke or any ailment, my heart pounds fast, with tears in my eyes as I would pray to and deliberate with God, asking Him "please, not yet!" I did that inspite of knowing that the physical Mother Teresa wanted to rest already as a "mother" to many people. I focused so much on her spirit who still continued on to drive her life, to serve many people still. Somehow, I did not want to lose that saintly visibility for us Catholics here on earth. That way, we could really say "talk to saint" or "pray to saint", without others thinking Catholics are crazy for talking to supposedly dead spirits and may be committing idolatry in the process. When Mother Teresa was around, being a "living saint", we knew when people asked her to bless them or pray for them, ie. intercession from a saint, we really mean that just like asking a human being who so happen to really be righteous and virteous and very much alive which is not much different to talking to an "invisible" one declared by the Church to be already in heaven. However, gone is that precious situation. That time finally came when God did not give any of us a chance anymore to appeal and keep a visible, living saint around with us here on earth. Enough was enough. I now accept that Mother Teresa deserves to be in her Creator's kingdom, deserving well and enjoying all its pleasures as she served well her day on this world.
I believe there may be other people out there who are silent "Mother Teresa's". But we all know, there's only one like her forever. Only this original one achieved so much as to directly, personally touch many hearts, rescuing human dignity and life by the millions. I believe it was God-intended for her to be world-reknown living saint, "The Saint of the Gutters". It had its good advantage such that her humble statement "nobody for everybody" became "somebody for everybody" as she deeply affected the lives of many people. Her Missionaries of Charities paved way to this saintly lifestyle of serving others devotedly.
St. Mother Teresa, please pray for us.
Coming to (God-be-by) Goodbye
Beyond worldly activisms, human rights and legalisms
The Pharisees who focused too much
on the wrong aspects of the law
Beyond trampling feet, great storms and protestations
This Flower stood bravely
supported by God's hand
Inspite of her frail beauty, facing problems head-on
no deterrant could prevent her firm roots on the ground
And so she bloomed, she blossomed
and her sweet fragrance spred
Strongly kindling all the surrounding life
Giving precious smile inside us
in all the hearts she touched dearly
With Mother Teresa, we could know, "God-be-by"
Copyright © 1997 by "morphogenesis"
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