Vienna (Agenzia Fides) – August 26, 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity. Monsignor Leo M. Maasburg, who currently serves as the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Austria (www.missio.at), for years accompanied Mother Teresa on her travels, in addition to serving as mentor, confessor, and translator for the Blessed. He has told of his experiences with Mother Teresa in his book “Mutter Teresa: Die wunderbaren Geschichten” (Patloch Verlag, München 2010), which will soon be published in 10 different languages. Msgr. Maasburg has sent his own contribution to Fides, addressing the missionary dimension of Mother Teresa's work. We have published it here below.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta is revered by people of all nations and religions as an example to follow, a holy and bright symbol of a service freely offered to others. She was a missionary of love without limits. Her love was limitless in its geographic scope, like the apostles sent by the Lord and it was limitless in its spiritual depth, according to the unique new commandment of Jesus to "love one another as I have loved you." Mother Teresa lived this command of Jesus in a remarkably genuine and complete manner, making the light of Christ shine wherever she was present. Through her being and action, she has shown the world what the mission means today: not preaching love only with words, but also with one's way of life.
When Mother Teresa sent her nuns to the dictatorial regime in Ethiopia, someone posed the delicate question of how she hoped to carry out the mission. Her answer was: "The tender love and care that we will dedicate to the poorest of the poor in your country will show God's love for them." Mother Teresa never criticized the faith of others, but through her example she attracted them to her faith.
Whatever she did was "His work." She never considered any of her works as her own. She was "the pencil in the hand of God, in the hands of a God who was writing a love letter to the world."
Her docility led her into new, unknown mystical and spiritual depths. In the revelation of His thirst, of His need for love ("I thirst" - John 19:28), Jesus asked for her consent to His plan.
The path into spiritual depths, for Mother Teresa, took an unexpected and dramatic course. In a "night of the soul" that lasted for decades, Jesus made her participate in a mystical - yet very real - way in His own suffering and the abandonment of God on the Cross ("My God why have you forsaken me” - Mark 15:34). While the new order she founded spread all over the world, through a sense of separation from God experienced with great distress, she experienced the pain of thirst for love, a love that she did not feel was responded to.
Mother Teresa entrusted herself completely to the guiding hand of divine Providence with the 1948 foundation of the "Missionaries of Charity," whose aim was to bring the light of Jesus to the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta and later, to all those who suffer from material, social, and spiritual poverty throughout the world.
She realized that the place where Jesus' thirst for love can be quenched, is in the hungry, thirsty, naked, and forgotten - in a word: "Jesus under the disguise of the poorest of the poor," in the slums of the world and in the spiritual slums inside people's hearts. Thus, she became a Missionary of Charity, with a social commitment that was without limits and that contained an incomparable spiritual depth. In her foresight that perceived the global reach of inequality between poor and rich, this tiny woman revealed the mission of the whole Church and the vocation of every person, regardless of race or religion, color or beliefs: “to be children of God, created to love and to be loved." (MS/LM) (Agenzia Fides 24/08/2010)