Reprinted from Sharing Magazine published July-August 2010.
Today, Jan. 6, 2016 is the anniversary of Mother Teresa of Calcutta's arrival in India 86 years ago. She was just 18 years old, her desire to teach children in the most severe poverty in the world. It was 1929. By 1946, she received a call within a call -- to satisfy the thirst of Christ on the cross by serving the poor dying in the streets of Kolkata, India. For her life of holiness while working with the poor of Kolkata, she was beatified Oct 19, 2003 by Pope Saint John Paul II. The Italian Press has speculated that Blessed Mother Teresa will be canonized this year 2016.
Today the author of this article, Enuncio Benedict, is 17 years old, on the cusp of the same adventure-- the rest of his life. His thoughts here are those of his 12-year-old self as recorded by his father, Edwin Rodrigues. He visited regularly at the Missionaries of Charity, Sector 23, Chandigarh, from the age of 10 to 14.
|Author Enuncio Benedict with his father & mother on Christmas Day 2015.|
His parents celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary on Jan. 6, 2016.
I, too, have had the experience of being lonely. In fact, everybody has a feeling of loneliness at some time or the other. I don't believe that being rich means having money. As a matter of fact, being rich is not at all related to money; but it is to be rich in faith, accompanied by good works.
One of Mother Teresa’s greatest works was when she started the Missionaries of Charity. To me, the Missionaries of Charity is like a second home. Since my first visit to Mother's home, I have never felt lonely the way I used to be.
Although I don’t have any siblings, I experience the love of children who don’t have parents. This, to me, is one of the greatest paradoxes of life. But I know it is true; as I experience it each time that I pay a visit to the Missionaries of Charity home here in Chandigarh, India.
Truly, it is in giving that we receive! There are several abandoned children who are longing for love. At Missionaries of Charity, Sector 23, Chandigarh, there was a girl of about 4 years. She would never smile or talk, but just stand in a corner expressionlessly. Whenever I would try to play with her, she would give me a blank look.
|Enuncio Rodrigues, 12 years old, going to work with the Missionaries of Charity|
In that instant, perhaps some deep-seated childhood scar was healed by God. Since it was school vacation, I was able to make frequent visits. From a distance, the caretakers and other inmates would announce our arrival to her in Hindi, “Simran, dekh! Tera bhaiya aaya hai!” (Which, in English translates into: “Look? Simran, your brother has arrived!”
And four-year-old Simran would come rushing gleefully and receive my mother and me. Simran continued to use very few words. But she would clutch my fingers and take me around her ward and to the swings with much enthusiasm. Everybody noticed how this child underwent a transformation over the next few weeks. From being a loner, she became more sociable.
She began to respond to the love of the M.C. Nuns, the caretakers of her ward (which, by the way, had never been lacking…only Simran’s response had been). Simran began to play with the other children from her ward. It was as if she had finally been set free from a deep-seated childhood trauma.
A few months later, I got to know that she was going to be shifted to another Missionaries of Charity Home. When I heard this, I felt extremely sad and now I miss her very much.
The pain of this separation made me realize how the poor, the sick, the old and the abandoned yearn for love and company. Even a small child is a source of great happiness. Simran also made me realize that there are millions of people who are lonelier than me. I was also consoled by the thought that someday, in God’s time, this child would hopefully get a home through the process of adoption.
It would have been selfish on my part to desire that Simran remains here only for an occasional visit from me and other visitors. Who knows what trauma such children go through each time a visitor leaves? When I visit the Missionaries of Charity, I also look forward to playing cricket with the young lads from among the inmates. I have noticed that all of them are endowed with great talent.
I love to watch one boy in particular, who plays really well in spite of being confined to the wheel chair. This boy dreams of playing for India and whenever he says so, I feel extremely sorry for him because it seems the wheel chair would hold him back from this striving. But who knows? Someday he might do so in a special category??!! It helps me realize that the handicapped are sustained by hope and have the potential of doing the things that even a “normal layperson” dares not to dream.
Her middle name Gonxha is enough to describe her. It means a bud. A bud is diminutive and is hardly noticed among the other flowers until it blossoms. So Mother Teresa was unknown to the world until her missionary work with the poor was begun in 1948.
Her undertakings have not only blossomed, but have been flourishing ever since and today Mother Teresa is looked upon as the embodiment of charity.
Although Mother Teresa called the Missionaries of Charity, the home of the abandoned, the abandoned -- the people who live there -- make the visitors feel so welcome it seems also like a home to them.
“We can do no great things; only small things with great love,” Mother Teresa said, adding, "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."
|Her middle name is Gonxha or Bud|
Countless people all over the world have been touched by Mother’s legacy, and the world is a better place because of the power of that one “Yes” to the “Call within a Call.” Mother deserves to be called a saint…nay, one of the greatest saints!!
|Blessed Mother Teresa's Work Continues in the Missionaries of Charity|
Enuncio's father Edwin Rodrigues has other pieces on this blog. My favorite is The Word was Made Flesh ... He Lived Among Us