Saints

7 Lessons from Mother Teresa

What does the devil hate the most? And what does it mean truly to forgive?

Press conference at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016
Andrino's cure of a viral brain infection, declared a miracle by Pope Francis earlier this year, was the final step needed to declare Mother Tere

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

VATICAN CITY — Why is Calcutta everywhere? What does the devil hate the most? And what does it mean truly to forgive? The postulator of Mother Teresa’s cause of canonization, Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., Superior General of the Missionary Fathers of Charity, today at a press conference on Sunday’s canonization offered seven lessons we can learn from the saint.

Also present were several people closely linked to Mother Teresa, including Sister Mary Prema Pierick, M.C., Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity (the third Superior General of the Order, after Mother Teresa as founder, and Sister Nirmala); Marcílio Haddad Andrino, who was miraculously cured through intercession of Blessed Mother Teresa, and his wife Fernanda Nascimento Rocha.

Asked about the relic that will be present at the Rite of Canonization on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, Fr. Brian explained “the relic is a large relic of blood.” The reliquary, he said, is made of wood from various holy sites that represented the various works of mercy. One is from the shrine of St. Charbel of Lebanon, one is from a confessional, he said.

7 Lessons we can learn from Mother Teresa offered by the postulator of her cause.

1. She’s the perfect Saint for the Year of Mercy

Mother Teresa was so aware of her need for mercy before God. She was very much at home with her own poverty. The Year of Mercy is first of all a reminder to all of us that before God we all stand in need of mercy; so in this we are all poor; we stand as a beggar in need of his love, of his forgiveness – of his mercy.

2. This is Mother Teresa’s message: Calcutta is everywhere

As Mother Teresa, we can call this reality of our interior poverty the “Calcutta of the heart,” and indeed, the “Calcutta of my own heart!” Mother Teresa used to say: “Calcutta is everywhere.”

3. Forgive and (truly) forget

She was always ready to show mercy and forgiveness to others. Mother Teresa said,“We need lots of love to forgive and we need lots of humility to forget, because it is not complete forgiveness unless we forget also. … Very often we say we have forgiven but we cannot forget. And as long as we cannot forget, we really have not forgiven fully.”

4. Regular confession

For Mother Teresa it was not a matter of habit or routine, but of meeting the mercy and love of God each time anew.

5. God’s love for sinners

“The devil hates God. And that hatred in action is destroying us. Making us commit sin, making us share in that evil. … So that we too share in that hatred and [this] cuts us off from God. But there is where the wonderful mercy of God comes. … And this is what the devil hates in God, that tenderness and love of God for the sinner.”

6. The Dark Night

Among other things that Mother Teresa’s spiritual experience of solitude, of an absence of consolation from God, might mean, this “dark night” also explains why Mother Teresa had such a great capacity for mercy. The experience of darkness compelled her to depend continuously on the mercy of the Lord, and therefore to be always ready to show mercy to others.

Mother Teresa said “yes” to the darkness, which was a terrible way to suffer for someone who loved God so deeply. “I have come to love the darkness – for I believe now that it is a part, a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth.” [You have taught me to accept it [as] a spiritual side of ‘your work’ as you wrote -] “Today really I felt a deep joy – that Jesus can’t go anymore through the agony – but that He wants to go through it in me – More than ever I surrender myself to Him – Yes – more than ever I will be at His disposal.”

In this “yes” of Mother Teresa there is all her holiness and all of our Christian faith: all of what is asked of us to do and all of what we can do. Jesus does the rest.

7. Mother Teresa is a saint for everyone

Precisely because she was able to share the suffering of Jesus, she understood that she was loved in a special way by God.

Mother Teresa is a saint for everyone, for the poor and the rich, and for our time, devastated by so much violence and aridity of heart, because she has shown that the evil/misery that we all carry within us, can be forgiven and that, grasping the merciful and secure hand that Jesus extends to us, our darknesses can be overcome.

jae

Diane Montagna

Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.