... we can certainly look up to people like Mother Teresa as well as the many unknown and unsung people we see in our communities who will never become saints, but every day do the work of saints.
Next week at this time Kathy and I will be in Rome to attend the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta. It is expected to be one of the largest events in Rome. People will come from all over the world to see Pope Francis proclaim her a saint.
My association with Mother Teresa began on Class Day at Harvard University on June 10, 1982. There we heard her tell us to work for Jesus and live virtuous lives, and she received a long, standing ovation from the large crowd in attendance, which I was a part of. She also talked about the dignity and respect of the poor, needy and the unborn.
I had received a master's degree in Education from Harvard University and was active in Catholic issues on the Harvard campus. Mother Teresa had just received the prestigious Noble Peace Prize and was one of the most respected people in the world. After her electrifying speech, I attended a private meeting with her and have never been more moved by anybody in my life.
Our special relationship continued over the years. Whether it was sitting at a kitchen table and talking with homeless mothers in Dorchester and Roxbury, passing out food to the homeless in Rome and Bosnia, or watching her care for young children in an Indian slum, you knew that you were in the presence of a future saint.
So, it's not a surprise that she is being proclaimed a saint on Sept. 4. For me, it's more about how she will be portrayed by the media to the people of the world. More to the point, will the public get to really understand the meaning and purpose of the remarkable life of this special person? No person matches the goodness of Jesus Christ, and it's a mistake to attempt to equate them that way. Nobody comes close to that. But we can certainly look up to people like Mother Teresa as well as the many unknown and unsung people we see in our communities who will never become saints, but every day do the work of saints.
I won't be visiting any museums, the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel or expensive Italian restaurants, but I will be spending much of my time visiting some of the same soup kitchens and churches where I often spoke to Mother Teresa and watched her at work. I don't have to see anything new in Italy next week, I'll be happy thinking about some of the remarkable people I've met over the years. Most of them were not rich or famous, but they were kind and decent.
When you watch the canonization on EWTN TV or national TV, or think about the special Vatican event on Monday, think about the people you respected and who did their best to help all those who struggled with physical disabilities, addiction and depression. Think about all those people who never stopped caring and were willing to help those without power and money. Yes, I'll be up close to all the events for Mother Teresa at St. Peter's Basilica on Sept. 4, but I'm really going to look back over the years to pray and thank all those people who did a lot of the same things Mother Teresa did in life -- some of them right here in Boston.
Raymond L. Flynn is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and Mayor of Boston.