Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, November 29, 2008


As you read this, kneel in your heart before the awesome greatness of God. Why? Because these people were not only great people but also experienced God as much as a person can in this life! St. Anthony the Great - See
St. Thomas Aquinas – See
St. Catherine of Siena – See
St. John of the Cross – See
Even though the above websites do not mirror their lives, they may give a glimpse and a foretaste of their experience of union with God!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Third Teresa - A Woman for All Seasons

Two great saints in the modern history of Christendom are known by the name Teresa (or Thérèse in French) - The first is Teresa of Avila, reformer of the Carmelites in the 16th century, known also as Teresa of Jesus; and the second is Thérèse of Lisieux, a Carmelite in the 19th century, known also as Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Both of them have been proclaimed teachers or "doctors" of the Church. In the 20th century, Providence sent a third Teresa. Born in 1910 in Albania, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu sensed her Catholic religious vocation as early as the age of 12. At the age of 18, she joined the sisters of Loreto as a missionary in India and became known as Mother Teresa. Like the first Teresa, she was a woman of steel. She managed to use her energy and force in the service of the Lord whom she encountered in the faces of the dying in the streets of Calcutta. Like the second Teresa (or Thérèse) she radiated joy and humility. Like Thérèse, she experienced the seemingly absence of God in her prayer. But this did not deter her from following her unique vocation that she experienced as a "call within the call." On the contrary she trusted in the outpouring love of God, not only to the chosen but to every single human. Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity with the Church's approval in 1950. The mission in her own words was "to care for the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." This was her principal teaching: the total dependence on God even when He seemed to be absent. For this, she had to beg at the beginning in the streets of Calcutta. And by helping the "poorest of the poor" as she put it, she won over thousands of destitute. In 1952, Mother Teresa, with support from the Indian government, opened the first home for the dying. It was a Hindu temple that she converted into a hospice for the poor where dying people not only received medical treatment but were also allowed to die with dignity, each according to his faith. Hindus received water from the Gange; Muslims were read the Qur'an, and Catholics were given the last rites. Many orphanages and leper houses followed in the 1960s that she expanded her missionary work to many under-developed countries. In 1979 she won the Nobel Prize for her humanitarian efforts. And soon she trodded the Globe attracting more than 4000 girls to be missionary nuns like her. I recall attending her speech some 30 years ago at the Jesuit College in Cairo. Bent because of age, she was nevertheless very active advocating for the missionaries of charity which she founded. As she was leaving the place, I happened to be at the centre of her path. She simply shook my hand, an honour that I still carry to this day. In 1983, she suffered a heart attack while visiting Pope John Paul II and another one in 1989. But her health condition did not stop her from continuing her active missionary life. By 1996, she had 500 missions in 100 countries. However her active life did not stop her from the inner prayer life. She is said to have spent 3 hours every day contemplating the Blessed Sacrament. She departed her earthly life on September 5, 1997 after suffering heart failure. In her acts of charity, Mother Teresa saw Christ in every human suffering. She thought that many Western materialistic people are poorer than India's poor and this is why they are hungry for a spiritual renewal. She equally condemned abortion and fought for the the right to life for every fetus. But her most significant teachings were her recognition of human dignity as a universal gift from God regardless of religion or race, and her warm attitude towards other religions - a teaching echoed in the 1965 Vatican II Declaration Nostra Aetate on the possibility of salvation - always through Christ - of non-Christians of good will. In Karl Rahner's famous theological opinion, they are called "anonymous Christians." In Pope John Paul the Great, her teachings were further actualized in his outgoing intefaith collaboration with world religions notably Judaism and Islam, and in his tireless defense of the poor South based on the dignity of the human person which he derives from being created in the image of God. No wonder that Mother Teresa was beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II, another great soul. Who knows - one day she may also be declared a doctor of the Church. Then we will have three Teresas doctors to teach us! George Farahat

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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