ROME, NOV. 29, 2002 (Zenit.org).- It would be hard to understand Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s work without being aware of the mystical experiences she had, which were the origin of her foundation of the Missionaries of Charity, and impelled her to don a sari and go out into the streets to care for the poorest of the poor.
The visions she had were revealed by the religious in a letter addressed to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier of Calcutta, through her spiritual director, Jesuit Father Celeste Van Exem.
The passages of her letter, dated Dec. 3, 1947, in which she reveals a disturbing interior struggle as well as the vision of what eventually would be her work, have now been published by Missionary of Charity Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, postulator of the cause of beatification, in an article that appears in ZENIT (Nov. 28 and today) and in the new Web page dedicated to the cause (www.motherteresacause.info).
At that time, Mother Teresa worked in Calcutta, India, as a religious of the Sisters of Loreto. During her prayer, Christ asked her to go out into the streets and proclaim him among the abandoned of India, especially girls.
“How could I?” she wrote. “I have been and am very happy as a Loreto nun. To leave that what I love and expose myself to new labors and suffering, which will be great, to the laughingstock of so many, especially religious, to cling and choose deliberately the hard things of an Indian life, to loneliness and ignominy, to uncertainty? And all because Jesus wants it, because something is calling me to leave all and gather the few to live His life, to do His work in India.”
In her prayers, particularly her Communions, Jesus constantly asked her: “‘Wilt thou refuse? When there was a question of Thy soul I did not think of Myself but gave Myself freely for thee on the Cross and now, what about thee? Wilt thou refuse? I want Indian nuns, victims of my love.'” Mother Teresa explained all this in a letter to her spiritual director and to the archbishop.
“My own Jesus, what you ask is beyond me,” the then Sister Mary Teresa responded. “I can hardly understand half of the things you want. I am unworthy. I am sinful. I am weak. Go, Jesus, and find a more worthy soul, a more generous one.”
“Are you afraid now to take one more step for Your Spouse, for Me, for souls?” Christ said, according to the nun. “Is your generosity grown cold? Am I a second to you? You did not die for souls. That is why you don’t care what happens to them. Your heart was never drowned in sorrow as was my Mother’s. We both gave our all for souls, and you? You are afraid that you will lose your vocation, you will become a secular, you will be wanting in perseverance.”
“No — your vocation is to love and suffer and save souls and by taking the step you will fulfil My Heart’s desire for you. You will dress in simple Indian clothes or rather like My Mother dressed, simple and poor. Your present habit is holy because it is My symbol. Your sari will become holy because it will be My symbol,” Christ insisted, according to the text.
“Jesus, my own Jesus, I am only Thine,” the nun answered. “I am so stupid. I do not know what to say, but do with me whatever you wish, as you wish, as long as you wish. I love you not for what you give, but for what You take. Jesus, why can’t I be a perfect Loreto nun, a real victim of Your love here? Why can’t I be like everybody else? Look at the hundreds of Loreto nuns who have served You perfectly, who are now with you. Why can’t I walk the same path and come to you?”
She added: “Don’t allow me to be deceived, I am so afraid. This fear makes me see how much I love myself. I am afraid of the suffering that will come by living life in the Indian way, dressing like them, eating with them, sleeping with them, living with them without ever being able to do anything that I will. To what degree my own convenience has taken possession of my soul.”
Christ calmed her by describing what the future would be like: “I want Indian nuns, Missionaries of Charity, who would be my fire of love amongst the poor, the sick, the dying, and the little children. The poor I want you to bring to me and the Sisters that would offer their lives as victims of My love will bring these souls to Me. You are, I know, the most incapable person, weak and sinful, but just because you are that, I want to use you for My glory. Will Thou refuse?”
“‘Little one, give me souls,” Jesus insisted, according to the nun. “Give me the souls of the poor little street children. How it hurts, if you only knew, to see these poor children soiled with sin. I long for the purity of their love. If you would only answer and bring me these souls. Draw them away from the hands of the evil one. If you only knew how many little ones fall into sin every day. There are plenty of nuns to look after the rich and well-to-do people, but for my very poor, there are absolutely none. For them I long, them I love. Wilt thou refuse?”
Some weeks went by. Then, on Jan. 6, 1948, Archbishop Perier called Mother Teresa and said: “You may go ahead.”