Monday, 13 October 2003

Vatican City (Fides Service) – Mother Teresa was “a woman in love with Christ” says Fr Brian Kolodiejchuk Postulator of the beatification cause of Mother Teresa who will be beatified on 19 October. Father Brian, a Canadian, was one of the first priests Missionaries of Charity, the male branch of the Congregation founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Fides spoke with Father Brian.

We ask you a member of the male branch of her Missionaries of Charity, what was the essence of her charisma?
Mother’s experience can be summed up in her passionate and intense love for Jesus Christ. Hers was a response to Love: from the time of her youth in Albania she always said Jesus was her first love. Her faithfulness to this love grows with the years and lasted until her death. The key to understand Mother Teresa is to see her as a woman in love with Jesus.

Mother Teresa used to pray a lot, but some people see her service as social work among the poor: could this vision overlooking the spiritual aspect impoverish people’s opinion of Mother Teresa’s work?
Once some civil service workers in India when to see for themselves how Mother Teresa and her Sisters worked. When they asked why she did this work Mother replied: “We do not care for the poor and the sick to gain something for ourselves, we do it for someone, for Jesus who is incarnate in every person”. Mother’s service was a gesture of love for Jesus present in every person, but in the poor and the excluded in particular. Mother always quoted Mark’s Gospel “What so ever you do unto the least of these little ones you do unto me”.

Tell us about Mother’s mysticism. In your task as postulator you have examined her life and work and as one of her Sons you strive to follow her example.
In the early years of her vocation Mother Teresa experienced deep spiritual union with Jesus. Later, as a Missionary of Charity she lived the interior experience of darkness, lack of faith, lack of love. But years afterwards Mother realised that this was the experience Jesus lived on the cross and she kept on remembering his words “I thirst”. Despite great inner torments Mother always sought union with Jesus, faithful to her prayers and she found spiritual consolation even in aridity. Mother was a woman of prayer, when she was not working with her hands she held her rosary beads. Her prayer life was intense based on the Eucharist. She lived sacramental life to the full: today her Sisters follow her lead and live a life of prayer as the basis of their apostolate.

Mother Teresa left us the greatness of even the smallest acts of charity…
One special message she left us is that of charity towards the poor, but also in this she used to say. “You don’t have to go to Calcutta to find the poor, they are all around you, your family the neighbours…” She also said that small acts of charity are important: she said it was not important to make great acts but to do little things with great love.

Mother Teresa lived a special friendship with Pope John Paul II: she certainly put into practice the Pope’s call “Open the doors to Christ!»
There was a special bond between Mother Teresa and the Pope built on mutual respect and love, as we can see by photos showing the Pope’s gentleness towards Mother Teresa. Their friendship was founded on their great faith and deep love for Jesus. Mother lived and put into practice the teaching of the Pope, especially his call for respect for life and the dignity of the person. The Pope wished to link the beatification with the 25th anniversary of his Pontificate and this is very significant. As if the Holy Father wants to say this little nun is an important figure in his pontificate.

Mother Teresa attracted young people in search of ideals and who admired the radical experience of the little Albanian nun.
Some months ago a survey showed that the person most admired and loved by young Italians was Mother Teresa. This is true not only in Italy because young people everywhere are attracted by the Mother’s life because they love great ideals, want to think of great things and they find in Mother someone who lived the values of the Gospel, especially in serving the needy. The same is true of the Pope, whom young people see as someone who is faithful to the end and invites them to put out into the deep. When Mother spoke to young people she was not afraid to tell them the truth, calling them to follow Jesus and to be chaste and pure, to dedicate themselves to service of the poorest of the poor. Today many young people go to Calcutta to share the Missionaries’ experience of service. Mother taught us to go outside ourselves towards God and neighbour is the path to happiness. Giving yourself is the path to happiness.

People in India called Mother a saint while she as still alive. Today the Church is about the beatify her. Tell about the process.
The cause began in 1999 with the collection of information and testimony until August 2001. Them we gave all the material to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which announced the decision on the beatification in December 2002.
The miracle attributed to Mother Teresa was the case of Monica Mesra aged 35 of West Bengal. She needed an operation but the doctors decide she was too weak for surgery. It was 5 September 1998 the first anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death. In the afternoon the Sister Superior in charge of the clinic where Monica was given treatment put a medal of Our Lady which has been in contact with the body of Mother Teresa on Monica’s abdomen and she prayed St Bernard's prayer the Memorare. Her prayer was: “Mother today is the day you went to Heaven. You loved the poor, help Monica, she has five children to care for.”. During the night the swelling in the woman’s abdomen disappeared and the doctors declared that the cure was instant unexplainable and lasting. PA (Fides Service 13/10/2003 EM lines 96 Words: 1083)