Monday, September 05, 2016

Hindu Holy Men Walk Through Fire ... St. Teresa of Calcutta Did Too

Mother Teresa talks to one of the 37 children 
she evacuated from West Beirut at the Missionaries of Charity school
 in East Beirut on Aug. 15, 1982. (Photo: Alexis Duclos, AP)

Mother Teresa walked through War Zones.

I was thinking about how Hindus and some neo-pagan, New Age groups walk through fire - to demonstrate holiness, or mind over matter; used as a self-empowering activity or as a rite of initiation, yet the feat is little more than a show.

In contrast, Mother Teresa walked through active war zones - perhaps in a brief ceasefire - but it was 'hot', nonetheless.  She didn't do what she did for show or to prove her holiness, she did everything out of charity - love - authentic love of God.  As Pope Francis pointed out in his homily for the Canonization:  "There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God."  That is authentic holiness - saintliness.

So when did Mother walk through fire?

The most famous, even miraculous incident happened in 1982.

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 14— Mother Teresa of Calcutta helped evacuate 37 retarded and handicapped children today from a mental hospital in the Sabra refugee camp. 
Her wrinkled face broke into a broad grin as she entered the Dar al-Ajaza al-Islamia Mental Hospital and began embracing the children, huddled in a group on the floor.
In her blue-fringed white habit, the 72-year-old nun, who won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, moved quietly through the knot of children, ranging in age from 7 to 21, giving a handshake to one of the older ones.
Most of the children seemed unaware of what was happening. Some began to cry. The nun tried to comfort them. Then, one by one, International Red Cross workers, hospital employees and Mother Teresa herself began picking up the children, many of them deformed. A few of the older ones, though retarded as well, were being taken along to help care for the younger ones. 
Children Taken to East Beirut.
They were put into four Red Cross vehicles and taken across the green line to the Spring School in east Beirut, an institution founded by Mother Teresa two years ago.
Asked about her impressions, Mother Teresa said: ''I have never been in a war before, but I have seen famine and death. I was asking myself, what do they feel when they do this. I don't understand it. They are all the children of God. Why do they do it, I don't understand.''
''She asked us what our most serious problem was,'' said John de Salis, head of the Red Cross mission in west Beirut. ''We told her, you must come and see these children. She came, she saw them, and said: 'I'll take them.' '' - NYT

The spirituality of St. Therese in modern times.

There is so much St. Teresa of Calcutta can teach us about authentic holiness, about charity, about kindness, about prayer.   She always said, “Do small things with great love.”  I think Mother Teresa epitomizes the "Little Way of St. Therese" - her life lived not only sharing, but serving at the table of the outcast.

Not long ago, many Catholic writers online wrote extensively about kindness - what it is and what it is not, and more pointedly, that kindness is not enough.  Mother wasn't like that.  I posted the following some time ago, something Mother wrote to her sisters about kindness ...

"I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than to work a miracle in unkindness," Mother Teresa wrote to her sisters. This was a principle she herself followed. It was precisely this attitude of being kindly disposed that led her to look at others' actions in a favorable light, to give them the benefit of the doubt or to overlook a mistake. This kindness made her approachable and sought after even by people whose opinions were opposed to hers. Such kindness that communicates love was what she demanded of her sisters: "Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting. In the slums we are the light of God's kindness to the poor." - Source

St. Teresa, pray for us!


  1. It hurts so much to see the negative press about Mother Teresa and also how critics say the sisters are not using the donations they receive properly. I know the critics don't understand the Little Way or putting others first. I know those people are the same ones that think every priest is a pedophile and that the Church should sell all its treasures to feed the poor. But it still hurts to be misunderstood!

  2. Terry ! Thank you for this tribute for, yes, a great daughter of St. Therese.
    She did indeed 'simply' walk through the fire of this world. I have been begging her intercession to do the same.
    oh Angela: we do live in a cynical world, one that harshly scrutinizes the good, jealous of who they are not. I too am really unsettled by the 'press'.

    1. O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.


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