The ideal labor of love
The summer calendar is traditionally framed by two holidays - Memorial Day at the end of May and Labor Day at the beginning of September. The former is for memorializing those who gave their life for a cause - their country - and the latter is for honoring those who work day in and day out by the sweat of their brow. Neither of these holidays are a holyday or celebrated by the Church liturgically. Yet this year it takes on a special meaning for it is the one year anniversary of one of the most courageous and holy soldiers of Christ - His humble servant Mother Teresa who died of pneumonia on September 5, 1997 in Calcutta. Memorial day comes to mind because we remember her great accomplishments in the face of unbelieveable odds, one who gave her live for God's children everywhere; and Labor Day is significant for no human ever worked harder and gave everything as a labor of love than this simple, saintly founder of the Missionaries of Charity who was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia during the reign of Pope Saint Pius X in 1910.
What does the one-year anniversary of her death mean? Just that it's one year down and four to go! We're talking of course about the eligibility time left before the Church can officially begin the beatification process for this living Beatitude bundle of energy and love Known the world over as the "Saint of the Gutters," Mother Teresa was the perfect example of personifying the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. While many, including this editor, clamored for her immediate official sainthood, our Holy Church knows best and it would be unprecedented and dangerous to canonize anyone immediately after their death. When that also includes someone as holy as Mother Teresa, then we know the Holy See is right. Slow is better. Discretion is the better part of valor, so to speak. Like the waiting period for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, so also the Church has a timeframe and all we can do on our part is pray and countdown to that time when she will carry the title "Blessed" before her name, then "Saint." It is a long and grueling process that so few of us can truly comprehend. Volumes upon volumes of material, information, first-hand reports, documentation as to miraculous occurences associated with the candidate in question and so much more are compiled taking years in themselves. Add to this the proverbial and necessary "Devil's Advocate" - one who purposely looks for any flaws or negatives, in a word tries to find reasons not to elevate the candidate - and the process can drone on for decades and even centuries. The "Devil's Advocate" is a mandatory and necessary part of the process and while his own disposition may personally be favorable to the candidate, his position has to be one of total objectivity - much like the prosecuting attorney. Thus the appointed cleric's moniker of "Devil's Advocate." We all know the real devil - satan - wants as few saints as possible in Heaven, especially someone as influential on souls as Mother Teresa was.
With the clock ticking down on the second millennium we can look forward to the new millennium not just because of the pending Triumph of the Immaculate Heart as the Blessed Virgin Mary promised at Fatima and in many other apparitions and messages, but also to the glorious events to follow - a mass return of God's children to His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the beginning of the Era of Peace, often called the Reign of the Sacred Heart or the Age of the Holy Spirit. By following Mother's example we can better be prepared for this wondrous time. We'll also be able to look forward to the eventual canonization of two of the greatest saints of the twentieth century - Mother Teresa and Padre Pio. No one has canonized more saints in the history of Popes than John Paul II but he realizes protocol must take precedence over his own personal beliefs and testimony to the holiness of this diminutive nun who he has referred to as "a living saint." He's even gone further in his praise of Mother's qualities, saying "I had many occasions to meet with her, and I have the vivid memory as her small figure, bent over by past years of service among the poorest of the poor, but always full of inexhaustible interior energy; the energy of love of Christ." Few endorsements would carry more weight than that, especially coming from the Supreme Pontiff himself who knew her well. Yet, in obedience to the protocol of the Church and for the welfare of total credibility as well as Heavenly guidance, he resists any urge to declare a Motu Proprio and break with tradition. While we wish Mother's process could be expedited, we are totally understanding of the Church's position and obediently comply with all she professes. So, don't take this weekend's Labor Day editorial as a push to expedite her canonization but merely as a campaign to launch a countdown to the time she is eligible. Oh, we won't publish a running clock like we are doing for Jubilee 2000 but we do advocate that the best way to count down to the time Mother is eligible is by praying, say a Rosary a day or even three Hail Mary's daily for the intention that, if it be God's Will, He will allow her intercession to work miracles for others on behalf of her cause. No doubt Mother is most likely looking down from above quite embarrassed by all the adulation for her. After all that's how she lived. But we just know she would concur with the prayers and emulating all she did and all Jesus preaches by reaching out to others as living "Works of Mercy." That way, while we wait out her canonization, the Church might be able to offer many, many more candidates for sainthood and that would truly make Mother smile as well as another Mother - our Heavenly one and her Divine Son. If we can effect this by living the messages and putting all God asks into action then we truly can hope to join Mother someday in Celestial bliss because of our efforts and our labors, offering them all to Him for His honor and glory. On this Labor Day Weekend, it's a great way to start, and that would indeed be the ideal labor of love.