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March 28, 2016 | Volume 91 Number 11

COMMENTARY

Lest We Forget

In her lifetime, the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta saw more than enough suffering and death. Described as the “Angel of Mercy” Mother Teresa provided us with a shining example to live by. No matter by what standard we measure faith, few would argue that her self-sacrifice for the poor and unwanted went beyond what most of us could ever endure.

She had witnessed the aftermath of the Great Calcutta Killings in August of 1946 that saw widespread slaughter (an estimated 4,000 killed) caused by mob battles in the city between Hindus and Muslims. She understood what religious persecution meant, having witnessed it first hand.

Only a month later, in September 1946, an inner calling brought forth from this seemingly ordinary Albanian nun the beginnings of a personal journey. A great mission of mercy to aid the poor sprang forth, eventually bringing Mother Teresa’s work to the attention of the world, earning her the respect of religious leaders of every faith, the love of the many suffering souls of the Third World, and St. John Paul II’s own observation that her life was “a total gift to the poor.” Mother Teresa saw the need and endured.

One of her crowning achievements was the Missionaries of Charity, established in 1950, and now running many homes for the indigent worldwide.

On March 4, the elder care home run by Missionaries of Charity in Yemen was the target of a murderous assault by extremists, identified as ISIS. According to a report, the terrorists were on a specific mission to find and kill the five nuns and any other Christians working at the facility.

Four sisters were slain in a most brutal fashion, but the fifth, a mother superior, having hidden, escaped. A Salesian priest, residing on the campus of the Mission after his church had been burned last September, was kidnapped and had not been heard from as of this writing.

Afterward, Sister Sally, the surviving fifth and only remaining nun of the elder care home, was forced by the local police to depart Yemen for her own protection, over the desperate protests of the residents.

As Pope Francis announces Mother Teresa will be made a saint in September, we must recognize that her “saintly” efforts were inspired by the call to help the persecuted, no matter what the cost.

Sister Sally will likely not be called to sainthood, but her need to stay with her residents, even at the potential cost of her own life, provides us with the same example as Mother Teresa.

We do not have to be saints, but we must recognize and remember the sacrifices of so many today in the name of our Christian faith. They endure still.

With the attacks last week in Brussels, all faiths are under assault by those bent on using the name of God as a tool of destruction. The vast majority of believers refute that premise, choosing instead to worship a loving, protective and forgiving God. How fitting that at Easter we celebrate the glory of the risen Lord and eternal life. Ideologies of suicidal death — by contrast — are sustained only by more death. And that, in time, is itself unsustainable.

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