Mother Teresa: A Saint for All!

The 4th anniversary of the canonization of Mother Teresa was marked on 5th of September celebrating her cause for sainthood so relevant in today’s world.

‘Pray for us,” was the plea addressed by Pope Francis on social networks on this occasion who described the Mother Teresa of Kolkata of Albanian origin as a ‘tireless worker of charity’.

“Mother Teresa, tireless worker of charity, pray for us, so that our criterion for action might be gratuitous love, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race, or religion,” said Pope Francis.

Under the headline ‘Mother Teresa: A Saint for all’ Vatican Radio's Linda Bordoni published a commentary carried by Vatican News on Saturday in which she said that on 4 September 2016 tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Rome for the canonization of St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the tiny nun who dedicated her life to the poorest of the poor, living among them and like them. “During the Mass in which Pope Francis proclaimed her a saint, he described her as a holy woman who defended the unborn, the sick and the abandoned and who shamed world leaders for the “crimes of poverty they themselves created”,” she said.

According to Bordoni, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk is the author of three books on the tiny woman he simply calls “mother”, and the current Superior General of the Fathers of the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order she founded. He was appointed postulator of her cause of canonization 2 years after her death in 1997.

In an interview with Vatican Radio, Fr Brian talks about how Mother Teresa is a “modern saint” we can all relate to, about her profound teaching on love, and about how we can all imitate her by finding love and beauty in small things and actions.

Fr Brian Kolodiejchuk was personally close to St Mother Teresa, in Rome where he first met her at the Missionaries of Charity house in San Gregorio, and then spent time with her in New York and Tijuana where he co-founded the Fathers of Missionaries of Charity, the men’s branch of the Order that today counts 28 ordained priests and about 60 in formation, scattered through Africa, India, Guatemala and Rome.

He is also the author of three books dedicated to Mother Teresa’s life and spirituality. One of these, “Come be my light” is based on hundreds of original letters she had written to her spiritual advisors. It is particularly relevant as it casts light on what he calls “the darkness” and spiritual loneliness she experienced for many years of her life, making her even closer and more relevant to ordinary people from all walks of life.

But first, he said, she is a “modern” saint as she lived the same circumstances that we do, while her popularity is such that she is known by men and women of all faiths across the globe.

“Not since Saint Francis of Assisi has there been a saint that had such a wide echo beyond the Church”, he noted, pointing out that during her lifetime Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize and numerous other Awards and recognitions taking her fame “well beyond the Church”.

Bordoni asked Fr Brian, how Mother Teresa can be seen as relevant at a time in history in which more and more people are driven into poverty by unjust economic systems, and now by the coronavirus pandemic. And the answer was: “It is true, he explained, that she never purported to address the structure behind poverty. She used to respond to that kind of criticism, he said, pointing out that tackling the mainstays of injustice is the vocation of others as it is part of the social doctrine of the Church, but stressing it was not her vocation. “My specific vocation is immediate and effective help” she would say, as she went about “feeding the poor as others were getting the fishing rod.” In the current situation, he added, we may feel we have no control over Covid-19 and its consequences for example, “but I can do something where I am.” He remarked on the many different ways people are going about helping those in need, even doing small things like leaving food in boxes for those who may be hungry and generally responding to the emergency in many small but important ways. “It’s exactly these small things that we can do, even if we can't control the whole situation,” he said.

Fr Brian agreed that Mother Teresa is definitely “a Pope Francis kind-of-saint!” He noted that the miracle of the canonization happened back in 2008 but that it was only mentioned to him in 2013: “I used to say mother would be canonized when it’s a good moment for the Church, and as it happened, it was in the Jubilee of Mercy.”

When in the 70s she went to the West, he said, she realized the depth and extent of spiritual poverty. And also because of her own experience of darkness, and poverty of loneliness, she was able to reach out to all.

She was a well-known figure and she travelled the world, so people would share with her their most painful experiences. From her own experience, Fr Brian said, she was always able "to give a word of consolation because she knew what they were going through."

“She would say the greatest poverty in the world today is to be unloved, unwanted, uncared for, and that's what she was experiencing in her own relationship with Jesus.“

The apostle of love Mother Teresa, who taught the world what love is, received words of appreciation by the politics of Albania, the country where she was born. Its actors did not lose the opportunity on Saturday to quote her and mention her deeds which is a stark message to all governors of Albania to turn their eyes on the misery and hardships that the compatriots of Mother Teresa are passing through, especially at these hard times of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. /