Home Sweet Home

January 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm

In the same room as the tomb of Blessed Mother Theresa, there is an altar at which the Eucharist is celebrated each day at 6 am.    The words “ I thirst” are prominently displayed.

Out in the courtyard, two sisters asked Patrick and Martin to help them carry some books for them to a car.  They smiled later as Kathleen told me.

In the courtyard, one could hear sisters praying the Rosary .

There is another room off the courtyard that is dedicated to her life.  It shows pictures and letters that she wrote.  The letters are in English which she learned as a nun.  There was also a bulletin board that had many of her quotes and next to those were 20-30 quotes of Pope Francis.

There is also a  staircase of ten or fewer steps that leads up from the courtyard to the room in which Blessed Theresa slept and worked.  It is a cell.  It has room for her narrow bed.  On the wall to the right of her bed is a crown of thorns.  The sisters who surrounded her at her death said that she looked at the crown as she was born into life after life.  She deeply identified with the passion of Christ.

She shared a sense of the Lord’s pain, suffering and abandonment on the cross.  Indeed, doesn’t  the cross capture the finitude of our human existence and limitations of the human condition?    Don’t we all share in Jesus’ fear, panic or  Agony in the Garden when we face death and have to accept life and death on terms that we cannot control?    I know that it scares the hell out of me.

Therese of Lisieux talks of the path of living an ordinary, humble, hidden life for God.   This path was the path that Mother desired.  She wanted to keep hidden her trial of identifying with and knowing Jesus’ sense of abandonment and suffering on the cross. A dark night of the soul.   She came to embrace it like St Paul:  “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.”    As she wrote to her sisters:  “ My dear children—without our suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption—Jesus wanted to help us by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death…and has carried it in the darkest night, Only by being one with us…”  The paschal mystery is hard to grasp and understand  and evidently much more challenging to live.

Outside of her room, there was a picture of her on the day that she died.  She was flanked on either side by a young couple who had requested to have their picture taken with her.  Later that day, she complained of difficulty breathing.  A doctor and priest were called.    Then the power failed.  We experience power outages all the time.  As Patrick and Martin were packing to go home the power failed 3 times. Fortunately the backup for our complex kicked in and they had light by which to pack.  However I counseled them to avoid the elevator lest they miss their plane.   For Theresa, the backup lines also failed which had never occurred before.  The breathing machine could not be started  and she was born into eternal life.   Yet she continues to minister to us.  On her tomb in the ubiquitous yellow and orange marigolds of her adopted country India was spelled   “Love until it hurts”. As one of  my friends, who may wish to remain hidden, prays each morning,  “ May we love as she loved.”