Daily Thought For January 25, 2019

A Sobering Encounter With St. Teresa of Calcutta on the Importance of Prayer

I remember the strong, distressing words of Mother Teresa to a young priest, Angelo Comastri, who today is a cardinal archpriest of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In his book Dio scrive dritto, there are magnificent passages. Here is his account of that upsetting encounter with the saint, which I relate here with great emotion: 

I telephoned the general house of the Missionaries of Charity so as to be able to meet Mother Teresa of Calcutta, but their answer was categorical: “It is not possible to meet Mother; her engagements do not allow it.” I went there anyway. The Sister who came to open the door for me very politely asked me, “What do you want?” “I would just like to meet Mother Teresa for a few moments.” Surprised, the Sister replied, “I am sorry! That is not possible!” I did not budge and thus made the Sister understand that I would not leave without having met Mother Teresa. The Sister went away for a few moments and came back in the company of Mother Teresa. . . .   

 I was startled and speechless. Mother had me sit down in a little room near the chapel. Meanwhile I had recovered a bit and managed to say: “Mother, I am a very young priest: I’m taking my first steps! I came to ask you to accompany me with your prayers.” Mother looked tenderly and kindly at me, then, smiling, she replied: “I always pray for priests. I will pray for you also.” Then she gave me a Miraculous Medal, put it in my hand, and asked me, “For how much time do you pray each day?” I was astonished and a little embarrassed. Then, gathering my thoughts, I replied, “Mother, I celebrate Holy Mass each day, I pray the Breviary each day; you know that these days that is a proof of heroism [this was in 1969, before the Divine Office was simplified]! I pray the rosary each day also and very gladly, because I learned it from my mother.” Mother Teresa, with her rough hands, clasped the rosary that she always had with her. Then she fixed on me her eyes, which were filled with light and love, and said: “That is not enough, my son! That is not enough, because love cannot be reduced to the indispensable minimum; love demands the maximum!” I did not understand Mother Teresa’s words right away, and, as though to justify myself, I replied, “Mother, I expected from you instead this question: What acts of charity do you do?” Suddenly Mother Teresa’s face became very serious again, and she said in a stern tone of voice: “Do you think that I could practice charity if I did not ask Jesus every day to fill my heart with his love? Do you think that I could go through the streets looking for the poor if Jesus did not communicate the fire of his charity to my heart?” I then felt very small. . . .    

I looked at Mother Teresa with profound admiration and the sincere desire to enter into the mystery of her soul, which was so filled with the presence of God. Enunciating each word, she added: “Read the Gospel attentively, and you will see that Jesus sacrificed even charity for prayer. And do you know why? To teach us that, without God, we are too poor to help the poor!” At that time we saw so many priests and religious abandoning prayer in order to immerse themselves—as they said—in social work. Mother Teresa’s words seemed to me like a ray of sunshine, and I repeated slowly in my heart of hearts: “Without God, we are too poor to be able to help the poor!” 

 Let us devote a lot of time to God, to prayer and adoration. Let us allow ourselves to be nourished abundantly and ceaselessly by the Word of God. We know the hardness of our heart, and it takes a lot of time for it to soften and to be humbled at the contact of the Host and to be imbued with the love of God.

Sarah, Robert Cardinal. The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (pp. 46-47). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition. 

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