Love until it hurts

Today, 26th August, marks the start of a yearlong centenary celebration of the birth of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. The diminutive, universally-loved nun whom John Paul II described as “one of the most important figures of our time” will be remembered and celebrated in many ways, both by her community, the Missionaries of Charity, and through various worldwide initiatives.

New publications about her life and writings are due to appear along with postage stamps and collector-edition coins bearing her image. An express train is to be launched in her honour on her birthday in India and the New York Peace Bridge will be lit up in the blue and white colours of the Missionaries of Charity. The anniversary will be marked liturgically and spiritually in Rome and throughout the world with Masses, prayer vigils and novenas and Mother Teresa’s relics will be displayed for veneration in the US and Canada.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, in her devoted outreach to the poorest of the poor in absolute love, has touched countless lives. The superior-general of the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Mary Prema, writes that “her life and work continue to be an inspiration for young and old, rich and poor from all walks of life, religions and nations” and she invites us to “…celebrate Mother’s birth centenary by sharing the joy of loving and being loved”. She further exhorts us to “pray to know better God’s love for us.”

There are many inspiring anecdotes, accounts and images from Mother Teresa’s full and fruitful life of love. In a recent Italian volume, Madre Teresa Mi Ha Detto from Ancora publishing house, journalist Renzo Allegri has compiled memories of his encounters with Mother Teresa. In the following excerpt, Allegri gives us a precious insight into her simple yet profound faith and holiness:

One day I asked her spontaneously: “Are you afraid of dying?”. 
I had been in Rome for some days. I met her a couple of times and had gone to greet her because I was returning to Milan. She looked at me almost as wishing to understand the reason for my question. I felt I had done wrong in speaking of death and tried to correct my mistake.

“I see you rested,” I said. “Yesterday, instead, you seemed very tired.”

“I slept well last night,” she answered.

“In recent years you have undergone some rather delicate surgical interventions, such as the one on the heart; you must take care of yourself, travel less.”

“Everyone says this to me, but I must think of the work that Jesus has entrusted to me. When I can no longer serve, he will stop me.”

And, changing the angle, she asked:

“Where do you live?”

“In Milan,” I answered.

“When are you going home?”

“I hope this very evening. I would like to catch the last flight so that tomorrow, which is Saturday, I can be with the family.”

“Ah, I see that you are happy to go home, to your family,” she said smiling.

“I have been away for almost a week,” I answered to justify my enthusiasm.

“Good, good,” she added. “It’s right that you are happy. You are going to see your wife, your children your dear ones, your home. It’s right that it be so.”

She remained again for some seconds in silence; then, going back to the question that I asked her, she continued:

“I would be as happy as you if I could say that I will die this evening. Dying I too would go home. I would go to paradise. I would go to meet Jesus. I have consecrated my life to Jesus. Becoming a sister, I became the spouse of Jesus. See, I have a ring on my finger like married women. And I am married to Jesus. All that I do here, on this earth, I do it out of love for him. Therefore, by dying I return home to my spouse. Moreover, up there, in paradise, I will also find all my loved ones. Thousands of persons have died in my arms. It is now more than forty years that I have dedicated my life to the sick and the dying. I and my sisters have picked up from the streets, above all in India, thousands and thousands of persons at the end of life. We have taken them to our houses and helped them to die peacefully. Many of those persons expired in my arms, while I smiled at them and patted their trembling faces. Well, when I die, I am going to meet all these persons. It is there that they await me. We loved one another well in those difficult moments. We continued to love one another in memory. Who knows what celebration they will make for me when they see me. How can I be afraid of death? I desire it; I await it because it allows me finally to return home.”

In general, in the interviews and also in the conversations, Mother Teresa was concise, gave brief and rapid answers. On that occasion, to answer my strange question, she made a genuine speech. And while she said those things, her eyes beamed with amazing serenity and happiness.

Amazing. This humble woman honoured on earth by a state funeral in the presence of presidents, prime ministers, queens and dignitaries from all over the world, rejoiced in heaven at being reunited with her divine Spouse and the countless, once destitute brothers and sisters whom she had loved to the very end.

Amidst her own physical and spiritual trials, she had found and lived out what she called ”the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

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16 Responses to Love until it hurts

  1. savvysrdc says:

    I have a book on Mother Theresa in her own words. It make me cry.

    I also have my first feature story up. It’s hard to find women who act like real women and men who act like real men, but I try.



  2. shane says:

    Christopher Hitchens wrote an incredibly nasty article about Bl. Mother Theresa a few years ago. She was a living saint. Her order, the Missionaries of Charity, is very solid; I’ve often seen her nuns at the old Mass. I do love their distinctive habit.


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Shane, he wrote a small book about Bl. Mother Teresa that was a hatchet job, but , no doubt , he’s written critical opinion pieces as well. He’ll soon have a chance to apologise.

    MMVC, thank you for bringing this centenary celebration to my attention.


  4. shane says:

    John Henry, he comes as rather arrogant, although I do feel sorry for him with his cancer.

    BTW, hello to everyone who used to comment on Damian Thompson’s blog. That place has been destroyed and is over-run with secularist trolls. Quite a pity; I used to like the atmosphere there.

    God Bless!


  5. savvysrdc says:

    Hi Shane,

    Yes, It’s sad that every post on Damian’s blog turns into an anti-catholic rant. It gets me in the fighting mood and gets my blood pressure up and I am usually quite calm.

    Mother Theresa is big celebrated in a big way in non-catholic India. We are more pagan than the pagans now!


  6. mmvc says:

    Today is also the feast of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland. Yet another cause for celebration… well certainly in my home!

    Savvy, great start to your blog. I look forward to more…

    Shane, no doubt Bl. Mother Teresa will intercede for the poor man. God bless him!


  7. savvysrdc says:

    Thanks Mmvc.


  8. kathleen says:

    Blessed Mother Teresa was indeed a great saint.
    A friend of mine went out to India as soon as she got her S.R.N. degree, and spent two years nursing the sick and working closely with Mother Teresa. She has told me numerous interesting anecdotes about this amazing woman.

    On another thread Burrito asked whether each one of us would be prepared to give our FIAT to God when He calls us, as the Blessed Virgin did. Certainly Mother Teresa answered her call!

    But it was never easy and she faced numerous difficulties, as anyone who has read her biography will know. She would never have been able to do this work if it weren’t for her fervent life of prayer and hour of adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. She insisted all the Missionaries of Charity did likewise.
    When once she was asked by a journalist why they “wasted” one hour a day in this meditative prayer, when there was so much work to be done looking after the sick and dying, Mother Teresa replied that he obviously hadn’t understood the first thing about their mission! How could she and her sisters live amongst so much suffering or attend the patients with such love and devotion if it were not for that sacred hour of adoration and communication with Our Lord to strengthen them?
    A beautiful response.


  9. kathleen says:

    Nice to have you here Shane! 🙂

    On another Catholic blog (First Things perhaps?) I saw you’d asked where old commenters on DT’s blog had disappeared to.
    Well Mystic Mouse has metamorphosised into Brother Burrito!
    Don’t know where Marie Elena is though.


  10. toadspittle says:

    Good point, Kathleen. Where is Marie Elena? She is my favorite!


  11. teresa says:

    Marie Elena told some days ago 11263 that they shall stay and continue the fight on DT’s blog.


  12. teresa says:

    But she also promised Father Cumanus to come to us, perhaps she is already visiting us, though not yet commenting.


  13. shane says:

    Thanks Kathleen. That was on Mundabor’s blog. It’s good to see so many of the old commentators here – it’s a damn shame what Damian’s place has turned into.


  14. golden chersonnese says:

    Hope you do go back to DT’s blog, savvy. You are one of the few who has the ready information and you always have a reasonable tone in your writing. Your many diverse ideas seem to worry the trolls and all they can do is try to offend you. But you do still appear very calm amongst all it all. If more there were like you, it would be be a very worthwhile blog to follow.

    I’ve followed up a number the URLS you give and got a great deal out of them. The Kreeft URL was just what I was looking for. Thanks a lot for those.

    Has anyone here seen Mother Teresa?

    I have, twice, while she was on two of her many travels visiting her sisters’ houses.

    Since it’s still Assumptiontide, here’s Charpentier’s Gloria from his Missa Assumpta Est Maria.


  15. savvysrdc says:

    Hi Golden,
    I will come back to Damian’s blog when I get a chance. I am organizing interviews for my blog right now. Glad you liked the Kreeft link . I have a lot of his books, he engages in Socratic dialogue with various philosophers about their theories in this books. Quite interesting stuff.

    I hope you will come out and support my new blog too.



  16. teresa says:

    Golden Chersonnese, how lucky of you! Mother Teresa is also the most well known and beloved Catholic among Protestants of East Asia! Love is the best form of evangelization.

    And we have got you message through the contact form! Thanks and do take time, you can contact us or write me as soon as you are ready.

    Best regards and thanks again!



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