Mother Teresa’s entire existence was a "hymn to life" that reminds us that being Christian means being witnesses of charity, Pope John Paul II told members of Mother Teresa’s congregation in a private audience today.
"To her, I was bound with a great regard and sincere affection. For this reason, I am particularly happy to be here with you, her spiritual daughters and sons," he told the pilgrims. Some Missionaries of Charity had travelled to Rome for their foundress’ beatification yesterday.
"There is no doubt that the new Blessed was one of the greatest missionaries of the 20th century," said the Pope. "From this simple woman, from one of the poorest regions in Europe, the Lord created an instrument to announce the Gospel to the whole world not through preaching, but through the daily acts of love toward the poorest people."
Mother Teresa found her strength to place herself completely at the service of others in prayer and in the silent contemplation of Jesus Christ, said the Pope.
"She herself said as much: ‘The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service; the fruit of service is peace’," said Pope John Paul, quoting the new Blessed. "It was prayer that filled her heart with Christ’s own peace and enabled her to radiate that peace to others."
Pope John Paul called the native-Albanian nun a missionary of peace and life and a "missionary with the most universal language: that of charity without limits and without exclusions, without preferences if only toward the most abandoned."
"She always spoke out in defence of human life, even when her message was unwelcome.
"Mother Teresa’s whole existence was a hymn to life. Her daily encounters with death, leprosy, AIDS and every kind of human suffering made her a forceful witness to the Gospel of Life.
"Her very smile was a ‘yes’ to life,…. She renewed that ‘yes’ each morning, in union with Mary, at the foot of Christ’s Cross. The ‘thirst’ of the crucified Jesus became Mother Teresa’s own thirst and the inspiration of her path of holiness."
The pope added that Mother Teresa truly embodied the title ‘Mother’ as the mother of the poor, of children and of many young people for whom she was a spiritual guide and who shared in her mission.
"From a small seed, the Lord allowed a large tree to grow, rich with fruit. And you, daughters and sons of Mother Teresa, are the most eloquent signs of this prophetic fecundity. Conserve, unchanged, her charism and follow her examples, and she, from heaven, will continue to sustain you in your daily path."
The pope personally greeted Sr. Nirmala, a Hindu convert, who succeeded Mother Teresa as mother general of the congregation. Mother Teresa died Sept. 5, 1997.