Devotees bring up relics as Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass of St. Teresa of Kolkata in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Sept. 4. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Every August I spend a week in Italy with one of my close friends. This year I extended it to Sunday so that I might participate in the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa. What a beautiful experience it was! How blessed I felt to be there. I knew Saint Teresa of Calcutta (or Kolkata, the Indian spelling), not well, but in our few times together she brought a sense of all that is right and good.
As I sat in a blazing sun that left us all living that phrase of Jesus she loved so much, “I Thirst,” what kept recurring to me is the great truth that, ultimately holiness prevails. In the end what will matter is whether or not we sought to be faithful, to bear the trials of life, as she did so heroically, to stay close to the Lord and the Blessed Mother, as she did even through the years of spiritual solitude, and to reach out to one another with a helping hand, a loving heart and a desire to bring the solace of God’s love as the underlying answer to the needs of every human heart, especially those whose daily lives are so marked by suffering — Mother’s “poorest of the poor,” so beloved as well by our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
The daughter of a friend of mine was one of those privileged to carry a relic of Saint Teresa to the altar. The Knights of Columbus commissioned the official portrait that hung on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica for all in the square to see and reverence. The Holy Father’s words were so touching as he reminded her that now her title is “saint” but probably we all will continue to pray to her and call her who she truly is “Mother.”
By the kind of coincidence St. John Paul always called “God’s Plan,” as I was leaving the Basilica, I encountered the Mother General of the Missionaries Sisters of Charities who came over to greet me. In her smile and in the gentle way she expressed the joy of the day, Mother Teresa, I am sure, will remain with us, her Spirit guiding and helping so many who turn to her as well as in her sisters whose hearts beat with the same love we celebrated Sunday in Rome and throughout the world.