“During the homily, I explained my first encounter with Mother Teresa.‘‘ Pilot photo / Gregory L. Tracy
On Aug. 30, I bestowed the Knighthood of St. Gregory on Tom Flatley at a Mass held at the oblates near his home. The Archdiocese of Boston is very indebted to so many very generous benefactors. Obviously, some of the people that give to us are like the widow in the Gospel, who having very little, still gives very, very much. Tom Flatley is an Irish immigrant who came here with practically nothing and has been tremendously successful in his business ventures. He is a man who has used his wealth to help so many. Our recognizing him is not something that he was looking for but something that we need to do as a Catholic community. We need to be able to say thank you, to thank God for his generosity and to offer prayers for Tom and his beautiful family.
Mother Teresa anniversary
Wednesday was the 10th anniversary of the death of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. We had Mass at St. Peter Parish in Dorchester. (...)
(During the homily) I explained my first encounter with Mother Teresa. I was teaching at Catholic University, and the college decided to honor her. At the time she was not very well-known, so there were only about 30 people who went to the ceremony. Eileen Egan from Catholic Relief Services introduced Mother and described how she had met Mother Teresa on the streets of Calcutta. At her first encounter she saw this wheelbarrow with a dying man covered with maggots and filth coming down the street. It looked like the wheelbarrow was moving under its own power because she could not see that there was a little nun, Mother Teresa, on the other side pushing it.
After Eileen’s very moving introduction, Mother Teresa addressed us, and I must say that everyone was so moved. We realized immediately that we were in the presence of a very holy and exceptional person. So much so, that afterwards I very boldly went up to Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle and I said, “Your Eminence, this has been a great blunder.” He said, “What do you mean, father?” I said, “We should have had this celebration, not at this little auditorium in Caldwell Hall, but in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and we should have had all the students and teachers from Catholic University present to see this woman and to hear about her ministry.” And he said, “You’re right.” (...)
I was very grateful to Mother. She sent me sisters when I was a bishop in the West Indies, and when I went to Fall River, I called her and asked her to send sisters there. She sent them right away. Eventually, she came to visit them there, and that was a very historic trip. She visited a number of spots in Boston at the same time and came to New Bedford. While she was in Boston she was at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Brighton and visited some of the prisons. So, many people had the opportunity to see her. Her presence was always a great consolation to all the people.
Time Magazine recently had a cover story about Mother Teresa, due to a book that was published recently of her letters and personal papers.
In those papers, she talks about her spiritual struggles. Really, what she is describing for us is what the mystics call the dark night of the soul, the purification when all of the consolations and the sense of God’s presence is removed. One of her favorite phrases that she has in all of her chapels is, “I thirst” as Jesus cried on the cross. Jesus on the cross also cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned Me?” He also experienced that abandonment on the cross, and that is the experience of Mother Teresa in her spiritual life. It was her spiritual crucifixion. It is certainly no indication of a lack of faith on her part, rather it shows how focused she was on her mission and on fulfilling God’s will even when she did not have any spiritual high to sustain her. It was just pure faith, the desire to embrace the cross and to serve Christ in the poor and forgotten. For all of us she is an example of holiness, how to live the Beatitudes and to serve the Lord in the distressing disguise of poverty, disease and hunger.
Also in this week’s blog:
> Labor Day picnic with my brother priests
> Funeral for fallen firefighter
> Upcoming Catholic-Orthodox pilgrimage