Sunday, September 30, 2012

Forty Days for Life

I'm a little behind.....I wanted to post this at the beginning of the prayer time, but I just haven't  had time to sit down at the computer!

Catholics for Life celebrate with regularity "Forty days for Life".....praying Novenas and other prayers to protect the sanctity of life.  Starting on September 26, they started an extra special 40 days -- it's the last 40 days until the the election.  Electing a President who respects life is very important to most Catholics, so they have joined together in prayer to support the election of a President who does just that.

If you have not heard of this and would like to participate, I have a link for you.  It's a Novena to St. Jude.  Now, I have to tell you that I firmly believe that simply the power of prayer will help our cause as well.  So, if you don't want to pray this prayer for whatever reason, please just commit to praying each and every day until November 4 for a "Pro Life President"!

Here's the link if you want to pray the Novena to St. Jude:  Click Here

I'm trying very hard to not get down by the polls I'm seeing and hoping and believing it is skewed journalism.

Prayers for Romney/Ryan!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sometimes it's the little things......

I wrote a little last week about our little getaway to Colorado.  I wanted to share with you a few more things about our weekend away.

We went to the wedding of Jim's cousin, Greg.  Now, let me tell you when I first met him, Greg was "little Greg".  I remember him dancing at our wedding like it was yesterday -- crazy man on the dance floor.  He had a GREAT time!

Well, "little Greg" has grown up and created a great little life for himself out in Colorado.  I remember teasing him when he was in high school that he should go to a "good school" (meaning OSU) -- but he chose University of Dayton instead.  Don't tell him, but I think maybe it was a good choice for him!  He found some really great friends there, and got a great education that has led him to be (from what I hear) a pretty awesome management consultant.

Let me back up for a minute.  I want to explain a few family dynamics to you.  Jim's dad only has one brother (Ed) -- and Ed and his wife, Jean, have three children.  They live 5 miles from us, which means their children grew up 5 miles from us.  So, what do you think the odds are that two of their three children would get engaged really close together?  I don't know what they are, but it happened.  I was still excited from the first engagement (Greg & Cat) when I heard the news that the second engagement (Lisa and Jehu) happened!  How exciting!

We quickly found out that neither of the weddings would be held close to home.  Lisa and Jehu wanted to be married in Seattle, where they have made their life, and Greg and Cat chose to get married in Colorado, where they live.  A few discussion between Jim and his siblings and we decided to "divide and conquer" -- splitting up going to the weddings so that our family would be represented at both.

Jim and I decided pretty quickly to go to Colorado.  We hadn't been there before, and the wedding weekend was a little more flexible for us to get away.  We toyed with the idea of taking the kids, but decided this would be an adults only weekend.  His brother, Jeff, and sister-in-law, Margaret, would be going to Colorado with us, as would Jim's mom, Linda.  (His other brother Jerry and his wife Kerstin chose to go to Seattle).

While I know we would have LOVED Seattle, we LOVED going to Colorado!  We felt like kids again -- we dropped the kids off at school in the morning, and our flight wasn't out until 4 pm.  So, we took our time and went to breakfast, and packed the car, and left notes around the house before leaving to pick up the others to go to the airport.

We had a direct flight to Denver, which was nice.....we flew Southwest, which is quickly becoming my very favorite airline to fly.  When our steward came around to take drink orders, I joked with him and told him it was my 21st birthday and asked if I got a free drink.  "Of course, he said!"  I questioned him several times to be sure I wouldn't end up paying an arm and a leg for my drink but it was free -- and so was Jim's.  So, our trip was off to a good start!

We chuckled when we got to Denver, because it is so flat there.  "Where's the mountains?"  LOL  We soon drove into them.  Silverthorne, the town where the wedding was, is beautifully nestled in the foothills of the mountains.  I wasn't prepared for the quick sunset or the quick change in temperature though!  We checked in and said we would go back out afterwards and take some sunset pictures.  Well, that didn't happen that evening -- til we got up to our room and back down -- the sun was gone!  :(  We drove a bit to find something to eat and get our bearings, but returned to our hotel to get some rest for the rest of the weekend.

Friday we spent a good part of the day just driving around and seeing the sights.  We found a great little restaurant for lunch, called the Arapahoe Cafe -- it just looked fun to go into and see what they had.  We asked their specialty and they said "BBQ".  We all tried different things, but everything was so good!

We drove around a bit in the afternoon to find the church and the reception hall, and also where we needed to go later in the evening for the rehearsal dinner.  We saw tons of bicycles, and runners, and boaters....Jeff was looking for elk (we didn't see any on Friday) -- but I did find something kind of fun.  I was taking pictures of a lake and heard this noise behind me in a tree.  I thought it was a bird who was yelling at me to protect her young.  I quickly figured out that I was wrong.  I would hear a noise and then hear something fall from the tree.  I finally figured out that it was a chipmunk in a tree -- and it was throwing nuts at me to chase me away!  :)
Can you see the chipmunk in the tree?

I quickly left her (or him) alone -- I wasn't sure what might happen next!  When I turned around, this is what I saw:

I'm such a sucker for nature shots anyways, but man, I was in heaven!!!  And the beauty just kept coming!

This was at sunset on Friday night -- by the rehearsal dinner.

Here's the beautiful bride and handsome groom (and his brother Mike, too!)  I have lots more to say about their wedding, but will talk about it in my next post -- which happens to be about the vocation of marriage!  :)

Some honeymooners we found along the way

More honeymooners!  (Jeff & Margaret)

Jeff finally found an elk!!!

No, I take that back.  He found about 23 elk!  I couldn't get them all in one frame -- they were too spread out.  I can tell you that I absolutely did not know there were elk in FRONT of that fence as you see here -- I may not have captured as many pictures if I would have known that!  LOL

We had such a great trip.  The families of the bride and groom were such wonderful hosts, the scenery was fantastic, and the company was great!  I can't wait to see where our next adventure takes us!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

All kinds of wedding talk....

Sorry it's been a bit since I've blogged, but we've been a little busy around here!  As if working and the kids weren't enough, our new CCD year has started, AND.......<drum roll please!>......Jim and I went away for a few days -- withOUT the kids!!!  (But with my in-laws :)

So, as we get settled back in to our normal routine -- I will tell you that I have all kinds of blogging to do about our trip to Colorado -- from the beauty of the mountains, to the awesomely perfect wedding that we went to.....but I have to edit my photos from the weekend first.

So, until that time, I will catch you up on our current CCD topic -- because I LOVE what we are doing!!!

We are doing a unit on -- "Marriage as your vocation".  Meaning, out of everything you can "be" in this world -- choosing to be married.  And utilizing that vocation throughout your life.  It's so awesome!

We started last week by introducing the unit.  Our class is comprised of the Juniors and Seniors at church.  I am teaching with two others - Steve and Amy.  We have written this class "from scratch" and even after last week I feel like it should be saved and used again (contact us if you would like us to share!).

We started by talking about the sacramentality of marriage -- or, how important marriage is in the eyes of the church.  It is not to be taken lightly, or with a grain of salt -- this is FOR LIFE!!!!

We had some discussion -- did a little bible story, and then had asked Father to come in and talk with the kids about cohabitation before marriage.  He had talked to my class last  year at the end of the year (different kids :) -- and I loved his talk.  So, we asked him to do it again!  He knocked it out of the park!

Tomorrow we will hear from some old married folks -- hopefully in a fun way.  I''ll report on that later :)

For now, I would like to leave you with a really neat article I just read.  Someone "introduced" me to Steven Crowder a few weeks ago (for some really great videos, look him up on YouTube)......but here is his story, in his words, about his wedding and his wedding night.  I LOVE it!!!!

Getting Married the Right Way

Later this week:  update on tomorrow's ccd class, and hopefully an awesome blog about our trip to Colorado!!!  I can't wait to share!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another September 11 that we don't often hear of

Every year on September 11, I am reminded of the following story I heard one year at a Women of Faith Conference.  It's the story of someone going through her own personal tragedy, unrelated to September 11, but totally affected by it.  Tammy Trent is an amazing vocalist, but her story is incredible.  I always remember the "angel in the Hilton Hotel Dress".  We never know where we will see our angels.  I also think of how affected she was by the actions of those that drove their planes into those twin towers.  She certainly wasn't the target of their actions, but was forced to suffer because of them.  How many times doesn't that happen to us?  We are affected (or affect others) by actions that originally had nothing to do with us?  Long-term vision is required, not optional.

Love Story Lost

By Scott Ross
The 700 Club -- SCOTT ROSS: Where did you and your husband meet?
TAMMY TRENT: We met in our youth group when we where 15-years-old in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
SCOTT Was it love at first sight at 15?
TAMMY : For me completely. I turned around and this gorgeous, gorgeous guy was sitting behind me and I said to myself, "Oh Lord he is so cute and I look so ugly."
SCOTT: Was that a prayer?
TAMMY: It was for me. It really was, and it was one that was answered. I met him and found out that we were the same age and was completely taken by him and his love for the Lord. We were 15-years-old and this kid adored the Lord so much. It was so attractive to me at that age.
SCOTT: Were you allowed to date?
TAMMY: When I was 16. I couldn't date until then.
SCOTT: You had to wait a year
TAMMY: We did, but we did lots of things with our youth group and fellowship group and our parents, doing things together after church.
SCOTT: So you dated with 300 other people.
TAMMY: Exactly. I hated it.
SCOTT (reporting): But it was well worth it. Tammy and Trent fell deeply in love with each other. At the tender age of 22, they got married and vowed to love each until death parted them. They had their entire lives ahead of them to live and to love.
TAMMY: We got married on August 18,1990.
SCOTT: Was that a good day?
TAMMY: It was amazing.
SCOTT: In love, for real?
TAMMY: Completely.
SCOTT: A friend of mine wrote a song years ago that talked about the two becoming one and Jesus making you three. Somehow in there the mathematics works. Was that true of you?
TAMMY: Completely. The Lord was always the center of absolutely everything we did. Trent was stronger than I was in our dating relationship. He was stronger than I was. He was a man. There were times when I even struggled about being in love, and wanting to feel loved, wanting to be loved, moments of weakness in my life where Trent was always strong. He wanted to have a pure mind and a pure heart and he wanted it to be that way in our relationship. There were times when I thought, I can't take this anymore. He'd say, 'Girl, I love you. I know if we wait, God will have something special in store together.'
SCOTT: Are you glad you waited?
TAMMY: Now? Yes, completely. Even then -- definitely. I was weak, but he was strong. I would know every time when he'd say, 'Girl, I love you and I am thankful for you, but I know God's got something greater for us if we just wait.'
SCOTT (reporting): The purity of their love and their relationship was the beginning of a very strong marriage and ministry. Tammy's music career gave her a platform to share about her relationship with Christ, while Trent remained behind the scenes as her manager. Their lives were spiritually, emotionally, and professionally inseparable. Together, their life was filled with love and joy.
TAMMY: He just absolutely enjoyed life. This was a guy that never spoke a cross word to me. He always spoke life into my spirit. He never had anything mean to say to me ever in our 18 years of being together, 11 years of being married.
SCOTT: Not many women can say that about their husbands.
TAMMY: Never. There were times when I completely deserved it, times when I probably drew him to want to scream at me. He never would. And I'd ask, 'Why?' And he'd say, 'Because I never want to hurt you. I want you to always know love, and I never want to you to know hurt.' And he lived it. He lived it.
SCOTT: Trent was the kind of man who was passionate about everything he loved. Early in September 2001, he whisked Tammy away on a romantic vacation in Jamaica for some much-needed rest.
TAMMY: We had an amazing week together. I had given Trent a card that said, 'I feel like I have loved you forever' and you open it and it says, 'My heart tells me I have.' I wrote to Trent and said, 'Baby, I'm so glad to be here with you this weekend to have all your attention.' Our cell phones wouldn't work and our computers wouldn't work, so no one could reach us.
SCOTT: On the last day of their vacation, Trent, an expert diver, suited up to explore a famous body of water, the blue lagoon. Because he was free diving, he submerged into the deep without the use of an oxygen tank or snorkel.
TAMMY: He put on his wet suit and his fins and his mask and he grabbed the scooter and said, 'Tammy, will you take a picture of me?' I said, 'Sure.' I took a couple of pictures of Trent right before he got into the water, and I sat there on the side of the dock and I watched him, and I watched him swim away. I sat and about 30 minutes had gone by. I had been watching him go up and down. Thirty or forty minutes had gone by, and I realized I had stopped watching. I was kind of watching other people swimming and playing. There was a boat that had swum across that hole back and forth, and it took my breath away because I wanted to scream, 'There's somebody in there!' and I couldn't. I felt paralyzed, but it made me now start to watch for Trent. I was really concerned now, and I didn't see anything. I just stared at that hole for, like, 5 minutes, 8, 10, minutes and now I started to worry because, obviously, you have to come up for breath. I didn't see anything, and Trent would never do anything to scare me, so I thought something was wrong. I couldn't see anything. I kept having to fight fear saying, 'Oh Jesus.' All I could say was 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' I started asking, 'Please will someone give me a mask so I can go in and look for him: he's in that hole' because I kept thinking if he's in there, I could save him. The people around knew that I wasn't in that frame of mind to do that, so a couple of men went out looking for him. Then they called a dive team in and they looked for Trent for three hours. Each minute that went by I knew. I knew what happened. I was sitting in that office and I was all alone, nobody was a believer around me. I just began to lift up my hands and I began to praise God and I began to sing songs -- anything I could think of -- and I was just crying out to God. It's all that I had. My whole life I had been on the platform telling other people what to do in these times, and now it was up to me. What did I really believe? I knew that all I had was Jesus. I cried out to God and I started praying in the Spirit. I didn't care who was around.
SCOTT: The next day, on September 11, 2001, divers found Trent's body. They notified Tammy of her husband's tragic death early that morning.
TAMMY: All my family was trying to fly in to see me and be with me and the doctor had come in and said, 'Had you heard what's happened in America?' And I said, 'No, I hadn't.' He said, 'There's been some bombings, and there's been some explosions and some aircraft that have been driven into the towers in New York.' I ran into the other room and I saw that. I just couldn't believe it. I began to cry for these people and what was happening in America and what was happening in my life. I didn't understand. He said that nobody can make it. All the aircraft are grounded. I cried out to God again, 'Why what is happening?' I couldn't understand. Then I had gotten a call that my father-in-law had landed on the islands. He was the only one that had caught a midnight flight out of Los Angeles on a business trip. As I stood up, Trent's father walked in. He held me and we cried and it was at that point that I knew that my life was going to change forever.
SCOTT: This was Sept 11, 2001, and the whole world that you knew basically was caving in on you.
TAMMY: I didn't even have my Bible with me at the time. All I had was a Gideon Bible left in the hotel, but I would pen that thing like crazy and I'd find Scripture everyday that was perfect for me. I told God, I said, 'Lord, I can't handle any of this. I have got to have answers now. When I ask you for something, I need you to answer me. I don't have the patience to figure it all out. I don't want riddles right now. I don't want to go over a big old mountain to just get down. I just have to know now.' So I would ask Him something, and I would open the Word of God, and boom, right there was the answer. I would just begin to say, 'Thank you, Jesus.' One day I was alone in that hotel. I could barely walk, and I could barely see, and I was trying to make it to the bathroom. I just fell to the ground and I said, 'Jesus, I just need to feel just one angel holding me. Just send me one angel in this bathroom to love me in this room, in this place.' I was crying. I couldn't breathe. All of a sudden something stopped. I got enough strength to stand up and I walked into my room. And my bed had been a mess because I slept in the bathroom the night before and drug everything in there. I thought, OK, I just want my bed made. I waded into the adjoining room with my father-in-law, and I heard a noise. I looked in and there was a lady in the Hilton hotel outfit, cleaning lady, housekeeper, and I walked in and I was getting myself together and I said, 'Could you come in and make my bed?' She said, 'Oh, yes. I've been trying to get to you. I could hear you crying, and I have been trying to get to you.' She said, 'Can I just hold you?' And I began to cry, and I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Can I pray with you?' And I said, 'Yes.'
SCOTT: Really?
TAMMY: She came in and she held me and we cried and we prayed. I thought, It was exactly what I had asked Jesus for minutes, seconds before when I said, 'Send me one angel that would hold me.'
SCOTT: An angel in a Hilton Hotel dress.
TAMMY: In a Hilton housekeeping outfit. And there was this precious angel, and she held me and she cried and she prayed and we began to pray together. Then she let go and she said, 'I needed to get to you,' she said. 'I can tell you are grieving, and it's more than just a cry. You are grieving aren't you?' I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'You have lost somebody, haven't you?'
SCOTT: She didn't know?
TAMMY: No idea. I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Somebody you love very much?' I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Who?' I said, 'My husband.' I told her what happened, and she just broke. We hugged some more, and she began to clean my room.
SCOTT: There are obviously thousands of people who are identifying with you right now in this. Certainly the people are sharing your sorrow for those who died in the World Trade Center, the timing of all of this together. What do you say to them? Is there a hope for a future?
TAMMY: There is hope. There is a future. God's got a bigger plan than any of us know. He's not surprised by any of this. I'm shocked. He's not surprised. My faith has been built on Jesus Christ. My hope has been built on Jesus Christ. In times like this, my faith and trust in the Lord is somewhat being tested. What do I believe? Where is my hope? Where is my faith? God does have something greater for me. We talked about destiny many times. Was Trent's destiny to get me ready for something spiritually? He was always fighting for me to be in the Word of God. I don't know how much time we have left. You know, what happened to my husband Trent, was unbelievable, the timing of it just seemed so unbelievable. It's shaken my world so much to say that I am tired of playing a game. I'm tired of walking so close to the edge. It's like I want to live boldly for Jesus, so if I can use my voice today to tell people there is hope, there is life after death, but you have got to know Jesus Christ in order to make it there. I know I will see Trent again someday, but it is only because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. There is a lot of pain in this world and there is a lot of hatred. There is a lot of hurt. We are seeing it firsthand. All I can say is I just cannot imagine living without the hope of Jesus Christ right now.
SCOTT (reporting): So how do you make sense of such a tragic loss? Where is the fairy tale ending that 'they lived happily ever after?' Why would a loving God allow such a Godly, caring man to die so suddenly and tragically? The questions are endless. But maybe, just maybe, Trent's life was taken just for you. Maybe in the hour of your brokenness and pain you too, like Tammy, will cry out to the God of all comfort -- Jesus Christ. He is the God of all creation who came down to live and love among us. No other god or religious system made such a sacrifice. He personally knows pain, He knows suffering, and He knows grief. He still beckons us today with these words: 'All of you that are heavy laden, come unto me and I will give you rest.' That is His promise to us, and He sealed it with His blood.
From here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I don't wait any more.....

I just read this blog post.  I've never read her stuff before.  But you can bet your bottom dollar I'll read it again.

Waiting.  Chastity.  Waiting some more.

Please read this -- whether you're single, married, a mom, a dad, a girl, or a guy.  It's so awesome!

Then give me your thoughts!

Click here for "I don't want to wait any more!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Feast Day of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Very rarely do I copy and paste a blog post.  However, today is the Feast Day of Mother Teresa -- who is probably the only saint (other thank Pope John Paul II) that we "know".  I love to read about her history and found this, with a lot of information that I did not know.  She surely was a woman of great compassion and little judging.  I only wish to be half the woman she was!  Please take a few minutes and read this -- her story is bound to touch you.

Today is the anniversary of her "birth in heaven" -- fifteen years ago we lost a woman who touched so many.  We remember her today in prayer and thanksgiving for her sacrifices for the world.

Small of stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor. “God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.” She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire with love for Him and burning with one desire: “to quench His thirst for love and for souls.”

This luminous messenger of God’s love was born on 26 August 1910 in Skopje, a city situated at the crossroads of Balkan history. The youngest of the children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five and a half and was confirmed in November 1916. From the day of her First Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father’s sudden death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation. Gonxha’s religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved.

At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. There she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on 6 January 1929. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and taught at St. Mary’s School for girls. On 24 May 1937, Sister Teresa made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity.” From that time on she was called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944 became the school’s principal. A person of profound prayer and deep love for her religious sisters and her students, Mother Teresa’s twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organization, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.

On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,” her “call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls.” “Come be My light,” He begged her. “I cannot go alone.” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.

After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. On 21 December she went for the first time to the slums. She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and TB. She started each day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students.

On 7 October 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.

In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979 the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of Charity Fathers. Yet her inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and nationalities with whom she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love. This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a “little way of holiness” for those who desire to share in her charism and spirit.

During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started. Numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honoured her work, while an increasingly interested media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and attention “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”

The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God. But there was another heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all eyes, hidden even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever-increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, “the darkness.”  The “painful night” of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor.

During the last years of her life, despite increasingly severe health problems, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa’s Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters. On 5 September Mother Teresa’s earthly life came to an end. She was given the honour of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike. Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to the thirsting love of God.

On December 12, 1998, Pope John Paul II granted a dispensation from the norm, and the inquiry for Mother Teresa was able to begin in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. The closing session of the diocesan inquiry was held on Aug. 15, 2001. The Acts of the Diocesan Inquiry consist of 80 volumes, each approximately 450 pages. This material was subsequently submitted to the Congregation for the Saints in Rome. So, even though an exemption was made for the period of waiting, no exemption was made from the formal process itself or from any of its steps.

On December 20, 2002, the decree of the miracle attributed to Mother Teresa (Monika Besra’s cure) was made public. So, only five years and three months after her death (on September 5, 1997), her beatification was announced, which is unprecedented in the history of the Church. Usually, the Church’s norms require a waiting period of five years after death before a Diocese can begin an inquiry into the life of the would-be saint.

On October 19, 2003, World Mission Sunday, a visibly moved John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, “whom I have always felt close to me,” before a crowd of 300,000 overflowing St. Peter’s Square, adding that she was “one of the most important figures of our time, one of the greatest missionaries of the 20th century.” More than 100 cardinals and numerous bishops accompanied the Pope as he beatified the world-famous servant of the poorest of the poor. The Holy Father established September 5 as Mother Teresa’s feast day — “the day of her birth in heaven.”

Some 500 Missionaries of Charity in their white-and-blue saris attended the ceremony, where the front rows were reserved for 3,500 poor. Also present were representatives of the Orthodox Church and two Muslim communities from Albania, since Mother Teresa was born to an ethnic Albanian family. Next to Sister Nirmala Joshi, Mother Teresa’s successor and superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, were the heads of other institutes founded by the new blessed. Also present was Monika Besra, the Indian woman inexplicably cured of an abdominal tumor through Mother Teresa’s intercession, who received Holy Communion from the Pope.

“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” – Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta