26 August – Mass of Thanksgiving in honour of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta – St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh

MASS OF THANKSGIVING IN HONOUR OF
BLESSED TERESA OF CALCUTTA
HOMILY BY
CARDINAL SEAN BRADY
ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, ARMAGH
THURSDAY 26 AUGUST 2010

Happy the poor of heart – they shall see God

Once a visitor was watching Mother Teresa clean an ugly festering wound.  The visitor said to Mother:  “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars”.  “Neither would I” replied Mother – now Blessed Teresa, “I do it for Jesus”

That was one of the great secrets of Mother’s life – her ability to see Jesus in everybody – every human person.  

•    To see Jesus in me and you
•    You and your neighbour – are my friends and my enemies.  
•    God is present within us.  
•    God has made us in his own likeness.  
•    God is present in the creation that surrounds us.  
•    God is present in those around us.

Blessed Teresa could see that because she was pure of heart.  Her heart was not contaminated with hatred or prejudices, selfishness or greed about people of different race or religion, or colour of skin to herself.  

There is a lovely hymn which goes like this:

Be still for the Presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
Come bow before Him now
With reverence and fear.

That was one of the things that struck me when I met Blessed Teresa – her stillness – her serenity.  I regard it as one of the great privileges of my life to have met Blessed Teresa a number of times.  She attended the Mass I celebrated with the Missionaries a number of times.  She was kneeling at the back of the chapel – near the window – crouched down low – absolutely still and reverent – attentive.  She stayed near the window to read her prayer book.  She only turned on the electric light when absolutely necessary.  She was well aware of the necessity to conserve the resources of the earth and to avoid waste. When you met her she was totally focussed and devoted her total attention on her conversation with you.  

I once met her at Fiumino Airport, Rome as she arrived for a visit.  Two things struck me:

1.    The size of her luggage – it was all contained in a simple bag the size of a lady’s handbag
2.    How attentive she was to what you said to her.

It was the middle of a busy airport – she listened and looked at me as if I was the only one in the building.  It was the same when she was at Mass – she listened and looked at the altar – devoting her total attention on the host.

She saw God present in the sacrament and God present in His word – and God present in His creation and his people.  For her prayer and adoration gave her the strength to go out and do the things she did.

Blessed Teresa once said:  “I am only a little pencil in God’s hand.  He does the thinking.  He does the writing.  He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and he has to sharpen it a little more.  Be a little instrument in His hands so that He can use you at any time, anywhere.  We have only to say ‘yes’ to God”.  She was strongly of the view that:

•    The greatest poverty in the world is not the want of food but the want of love.  
•    You have the poverty of people who are dissatisfied with what they have,
•    The poverty of people who do not know how to suffer.
•    The poverty of people who give in to despair.
•    The poverty of the heart is often more difficult to relieve and to defend.  

It may be difficult but Blessed Teresa was determined to do her best.  
The driving force of her life was love

•    The love that is strong as death
•    The love which NO flood can quench and no torrents drown.
•    The love that is always patient and kind.
•    The love that is never jealous.
•    The love that is never boastful or conceited.
•    The love that is never rude or selfish.
•    The love that does not take offence and is not resentful.

Blessed Teresa was always joyful.  “Keep the joy of loving the poor, no matter what happens” she said and “share this joy with all you meet”.  “Works of love are works of peace” she said.  That is true within families – works of love are works of peace.  

Her bedroom was tiny – about twice the size of that altar – the total room.  She always chose the hottest room in the convent – the one over the kitchen.  She could do with four or five hours of sleep at night and a half an hour of rest in the afternoon.  Her menu was simple and basic – rice and lentils and some fruit.

“We must not drift away from the humble works, because these are the works nobody will do.  They are never too small.  We are so small we look at things in a small way”.

I am delighted at the presence of the Sisters of Charity here in Armagh.  I am delighted at their dedication to prayer and especially to their adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  I hope this will continue to get good support from the local people, especially in preparation for the Eucharistic Congress of 2012.  I am delighted at their very many humble works.

I am delighted to hear of the success of their Summer School which has just ended.  They offered it to the school children of Armagh and more than 1-150 took up the offer.  I am very grateful to the two wonderful groups of young people who came from Malta to help out.  I wish more of our young people here in Armagh would discover the joy of helping people less fortunate than themselves.  It really is a joy and a richness and you could see it in the personalities and characters of the young people who came from Malta.

‘He who is mighty has done great things for me’.  Blessed Teresa could make the words of Mary her own.  She was born in modern day Albania.  At the age of 18 she saw that God might be calling her to serve as a Religious Sister and as a missionary – calling her that is, to give her life to prayer and helping others to get to know Jesus Christ who did not know him.

I think she contacted her Parish Priest who put her in contact with the Loreto Sisters.  The outcome was that one month after her 18th birthday she set out for Rathfarnham, County Dublin to become a Postulant in the Loreto Order.   Two months later she set out for Calcutta.  She said goodbye to family and home and homeland.

For twenty years she was a Loreto Sister – teaching in Calcutta – teaching orphans and the homeless and the poor.  Then in 1948 she left the Loreto Sisters to found the Missionaries of Charity.  Since then the Missionaries of Charity have spread worldwide, always helping the poor.

MASS OF THANKSGIVING IN HONOUR OF
BLESSED TERESA OF CALCUTTA
INTRODUCTION

I welcome you all to this Mass of Thanksgiving.  Every Eucharist is a Thanksgiving.  This is a Mass of Thanksgiving in honour of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.  Today is the one hundredth anniversary of her birth.

We thank God for Blessed Teresa.  We give thanks for the wonders that have been worked through Blessed Teresa and through her thousands of Missionaries of Charity and their co-workers – throughout the world.

We pray the blessing of God on all of those missionaries and co-workers.

We pray, in a special way, for the many people whom they helping so many ways.

We pray for the speedy canonisation of Blessed Teresa

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