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placeholder September 19, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
St. Teresa Reflections

The entire St. Peter's Square was covered with pilgrims as well as tourists.

The experience of a lifetime

Many people must have attended the canonization of Mother Teresa for many different reasons. One member of our pilgrimage group attended her beatification in 2003, and she wanted to complete the entire holy experience on elevation to sainthood.

Another had a personal encounter with Mother Teresa while taking care of one of her nuns here in the US as a doctor. When she visited the sick nun in New York, she requested to meet the doctor and asked her to join her missionary work in India. But she declined the invitation because of personal commitments.

Still another is a care-giver to a sick family member and she wanted to get a break and get away from it all for a while. My husband wanted to celebrate his birthday on Sept. 4 in a holy way by attending the canonization. And for sure, there were so many other reasons that are known only in the deep recesses of one's heart.

We woke up early on that Sunday morning to be at the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica by 4 a.m. When we arrived, it was already so crowded with pilgrims from around the world waiting to enter St. Peter's Square.

We had to pass through two security checks. We patiently stood with the crowd for almost three hours until the break of dawn before they opened the gates. When they finally did, many people were so in a hurry to get in that my husband and I lost each other! We finally found each other later after the second security check inside the colonnade.

The entire St. Peter's Square was covered with pilgrims as well as tourists. It was very heart-warming to see many people from all walks of life from all over the world to witness the sacred occasion.

We were seated beside with a family with 10- and 11-year old daughters who wanted it as a whole family experience. It was a very hot sunny day with only a few specks of cloud in the beautiful blue sky.

I felt for the many religious in attendance who were in layers of vestments under the sweltering heat of the sun. We prayed the glorious mysteries of the rosary before the canonization Mass. We promptly started the celebration at the scheduled time.

The faithful gathered together gave a thunderous applause when Pope Francis proclaimed our newest saint — St. Teresa of Kolkata. The litany of the saints was chanted so beautifully by the choir after the proclamation. The proceedings were very holy and prayerful in its entirety.

After the canonization, Pope Francis went around the square in his pope mobile greeting everyone in his own jovial fashion. The children were carried on the shoulders of their fathers to catch a better glimpse of him while chanting jubilantly: "Papa Francesco!"

This experience of a lifetime brought me to ponder upon this new great saint of our times. We are used to pray to saints who lived in the past centuries; as if it was only in those times that sainthood was possible. But St. Teresa is a testament to all of us that we are all called to become saints with no exclusions, whatsoever.

She lived in the same world of modern technologies and fast- paced life like we currently do. So much so that even many of us had direct personal encounters with her.

She saw the same good and evils in our world, felt the same joys and sorrows, encountered the same challenges, and achieved the same successes in our midst.

The only difference was the fact that her life was a miracle in itself because of her selfless giving and complete surrender through an overflowing love for the Lord. She was a very tiny woman, yet she towered over everyone else and everything and everywhere.

She did not win in a beauty contest, yet the beauty that she exuded transcended within the core of every soul she encountered in her everyday life. She did not have masters or doctoral degrees and diplomas hanging on a wall, but her simple life of selfless giving is etched in the lives of many men, women and children throughout the world.

She was a "CEO" where its policies and "by-laws" are to love till it hurts, where the only requirement to qualify and join her "company"' is kindness and compassion; its mode of evaluation is constant examination of conscience; where the "compensation" is inner peace and incomparable joy.

The benefits are out of this world and eternal. The life she lived and preached is the real and true living in itself. So simple, so loving, so kind, so giving, so devoted to the Lord.Yes, all of us are invited and can also become saints! What else could be more worth pursuing in our earthly life?

But why is it so difficult for us to do it? Why can't our world get it ?

St. Mother Teresa, please pray for us!

(Bella Asis is a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Fremont.)

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