DENVER — One legacy of the life of Blessed Mother Teresa is that anyone can follow her example as a “missionary of charity,” said the postulator of her cause for canonization, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk.
“Everyone has the mission to be a carrier of God’s love, a missionary of charity,” the Canadian priest said at a recent presentation held at St. Joseph Church in Denver.
“The highest thing to which we human beings aspire is, of course, love,” he added, explaining how Blessed Mother Teresa lived that aspiration.
Father Kolodiejchuk is a priest in the Missionaries of Charity; and since 1999, he has been the postulator for Mother Teresa’s cause for canonization. He also edited and provided commentary for a collection of her private letters. His appearance was sponsored by Christ in the City, a Denver-based outreach program that ministers to the poor and marginalized.
Mother was a “practical woman,” he reflected, and thus knew that love had to be expressed concretely. “Love is not merely a feeling, but is always expressed in a very concrete, tangible action. Mother used to use the phrase ‘love in living action,’ which means love that was made very concrete, very practical.”
This practicality was expressed in Mother’s “business card” that she handed out, which outlined the steps for love to take effect: “The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; and the fruit of service is peace.”
Prayer, explained Father Kolodiejchuk, brings two graces, “a clean heart and a deepening of faith.” Thus, like the Sixth Beatitude, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God,” the prayerful will see God in others and be able to truly love them by serving them.
He added that Mother Teresa experienced a profound encounter with God as Father through prayer, and thus, “having experienced God’s love, Mother Teresa’s entire life was an endeavor and an attempt to return love for love.”
She saw Jesus in others, expressed in a meditation she wrote from the hospital: “Jesus is the hungry to be fed; the thirsty to be satiated; the naked to be clothed; the homeless to be taken in; the sick to be healed; the lonely to be loved; the unwanted to be wanted; the leper to wash his wounds; the beggar to give him a smile; the little one to embrace him.”
However, people need not go to the slums of Calcutta to put love into practice, Father Kolodiejchuk added. “In fact, it is often those with whom we live who are most in need,” he stated.
The priest quoted Blessed Mother Teresa when she said: “How can we love Jesus in the world today? By loving him in my husband, my wife, my children, my brothers and sisters, my parents, my neighbors, the poor. … People are hungry for the Word of God, for love. Do we really know our poor? Right here. Maybe the poor are in our own family, for love begins at home. Do we know them?”
Such “ordinary” acts of charity can become extraordinary if done with much love. Again, Father Kolodiejchuk quoted Mother Teresa, “Love is not measured by how much we do. Love is measured by how much love we put in it, how much it is hurting us in loving.” He added that, “Even the most trivial things become important if they are a means of expressing love.”
Father Kolodiejchuk recounted one time when he was asked by an interviewer if Mother Teresa was “happy.”
He replied, “She was one of the happiest people on earth, even though we know of her great suffering, especially her interior suffering.” This was because of her living the “law of the gift,” as St. Pope John Paul II wrote, of “being by giving oneself.”
He said, “If we are focused on God and neighbor, focused outside of ourself, then the fruit of that is our fulfillment and happiness.”