Be All For Jesus Through Mary
Mother Teresa on the Solemnity of the Assumption
Contemplating the Byzantine Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos for the Aug. 15 Solemnity of the Assumption, as it is known in the West, is diving deep into the most profound mysteries of Christian faith. It is an act of reverence, prayer and discipleship.
Mary, Mother of God, was Christ’s most faithful disciple who followed her Son. She, according to the flesh, was mother of Jesus and lived a long and fulfilling life.
As depicted in the icon, Mary, Falling Asleep, was surrounded by the Apostles with Christ in the center holding a small child clothed in white symbolizing Mary’s soul. Peter, Paul, bishops wearing episcopal vestments (James, the brother of the Lord; Timothy; Heirotheus; and Dionysius the Areopagite), and others of their friends have gathered with the apostles for the Dormition of the Queen, and women members of the Church in Jerusalem are contemplating from the window.
Mary was the first who experienced Falling Asleep and being transported to Heaven, showcasing what is in store for all disciples who follow in the footsteps of the Master: their bodies will rise and be with God in Heaven forever. She was the first woman — and, in fact, the first human — to experience Resurrection after Jesus Christ and Unity with God in eternity. With her Dormition, the Theotokos performed miracles as recorded in Life of the Virgin, believed to be the earliest biography of the Virgin Mary, by Maximus the Confessor (A.D. 580–662).
As recorded, when Our Lady Fell Asleep, the eyes of the blind were opened, the ears of the deaf were unblocked, the lame stood up to walk, demons were expelled and every suffering and sickness was cured. Sinners understood their error and converted, invoking the name of Christ and of his holy mother Mary. Special callings which marked new beginnings were Mary’s special graces.
On the afternoon of Aug. 15, 1922, when Gonxhe (Mother Teresa’s lay name) was immersed in prayer and kneeling in front of the statue of Madonna and Child, she felt for the first time in her life that the Lord was calling her in a special way. She was called to be consecrated to him. So, in Letnica, in the vicinity of Skopje, Jesus was calling her through Our Lady. The Assumption started the religious journey for the future St. Teresa of Calcutta who followed Jesus through Mary, the Son through the mother. Later, Mother Teresa would reflect on her special calling in Letnica, saying:
A few days ago I had a good laugh — when some incidents from Letnica came to my mind. Really, how proud I was then. I am not humble even now — but at least I desire to become — and humiliations are my sweetest sweets….
Mother Teresa’s spiritual closeness with Mary was a combination of adoration, devoutness, and total trust in Our Lady’s charisma and her succor that brought her to experience the love and power of God through the Mediatrix — Mary. Even the intimacy and unity of Mother Teresa with Jesus’ Crucifix can be credited to Mary and her intercession. Be all for Jesus through Mary — this was Mother Teresa’s theology of redemption, which is similar to St. Louis de Montfort’s devotion “to Christ through the hands of Mary,” with solid foundations in both Scripture and Tradition.
On the feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15, 1948, Mother Teresa’s journey to start the Missionaries of Charity started as she wrote announcing her departure from the Loreto convent of Entally:
Please pray for me that I may have the courage to complete my sacrifice as He has given me the inspiration and grace to begin…. Please pray. — I have very little courage — but I trust Him blindly, in spite of all feelings.
On Aug. 17, 1948, wearing a sari with a blue border, in what she called “absolute poverty” with only five rupees in her pocket, Mother Teresa set out to start as the first Missionary of Charity in the streets of Kolkata.
Three decades later, in August 1982, Mother Teresa visited war-torn Lebanon, saving children left behind in a Muslim hospital. The Lebanon War between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization had started in June of 1982. Mother Teresa was first in line to lend a helping hand to countries at war — in this case, Lebanon.
Her approach to war and conflict resolution was simple: “Let us not use bombs and guns to overcome the world but let us radiate the peace of God and extinguish all hatred and love of power in the world and in the hearts of all men.”
Mother Teresa talked to a priest and an officer: “I feel that the Church must be present at this time,” she told the two men. “Because we are not into politics. This is why we need to be present.”
When she was told that it was absolutely impossible to cross from East to West Beirut to evacuate and save the disabled and mentally retarded children who were trapped in Dar al-Ajaza al-Islamia Mental Hospital, she confidently responded: “Ah, but I asked Our Lady in prayer. I asked for a cease-fire for tomorrow eve of her feast day" (it was the eve of Aug. 15, Solemnity of the Assumption). Mother asked fervently, and Our Lady granted. One by one, 37 children who were left behind in West Beirut were saved.
On Aug. 15, 1982, the New York Times reported: “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.” The disabled children were taken to the Spring School in East Beirut, operated by the Missionaries of Charity. Mission accomplished.
This year, celebrate the Feast of the Assumption by contemplating the Byzantine Icon of Dormition. In your meditation, you will surely find St. Mother Teresa there among the women at the window.