Friday, September 5, 2014

Saint of the day: Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

The following comes from the Michael Journal:

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.

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 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.

Suffering from a huge abdominal tunor, Minka Besra was being cared for by the Missionaries of Charity in West Bengal state. The sisters prayed for Mother Theresa's intercession, and Besra was healed on the first anniversary of their founder's death. A Hindu at the time of the healing in 1998, Besra became a Catholic. It is this miraculous healing that allowed Mother Teresa's beatification.

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