ROME/THE VATICAN, by Fr. Rolando Gilbert Montes de Oca Valero, member of the Federation of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests in Cuba, studying in Rome •
The morning of 4 September 2016, in Rome, dawned differently. There was a great movement of pilgrims towards St. Peter’s; they had come from all over the world. Joyfully, I was able to recognize the Archbishop of Bujumbura, Burundi and many other Africans. Flags from Australia and many European countries were waving. I met Latin Americans from many nationalities that I was able to share with, while we made our way through the endless line to reach the piazza. At the conclusion of the Eucharist, my Cuban flag attracted some Vietnamese priests who approached me; there were Chinese, Koreans, Polish, North Americans, Lebanese, Greeks…
As on the morning of Pentecost, everyone was there and Blessed Mother was also there opening the day’s journey with a Rosary prayed with Catholic strength and closed everything when we asked for her words to the angel, and we greeted her anew. That was Rome 4 September– a Pentecost, where the Spirit breathed with power on a multitude of disciples accompanied by Mary. All of us, although coming from the most diverse and distant regions, communicated with each other in only one language: Mercy, which Mother Teresa of Calcutta preached with her life.
The sun was hot in the piazza, but the joy and gratitude of those who felt attached to the Saint of Calcutta was stronger. This time, there were special invitees– the poor. There were many who occupied a special place in the piazza, reminding us of the privileged place they should always have in our Church and in our hearts. Afterwards there was a celebratory meal for them shared with the Pope and served by the Missionaries of Charity (MC). The faces of the poor reflected the specialness of the day.
However, Teresa of Calcutta did not limit herself to the poor materially speaking. Her mercy extended to all those also in need in the spirit. I remembered the generosity I received in the house of the contemplative MC’s of the Shrine del Cobre in Cuba. In the warmth of prayer with these Sisters, I debated and discerned when the Lord was calling me to the priesthood. Oh how grateful I am for the spiritual help from these religious, and the atmosphere of prayer generated around them! I also remembered the mission the Sisters in active life fulfilled in my old parish in Lomas de Maisí: what great evangelization fruitfulness!
Love put into action
And I will bet that many of us who enjoyed this warmth of spirit, had our hearts and minds full of the fruitfulness the work of this woman, whose sanctity was declared by the Church, had left in us. In the flesh, the poor witnessed the power of “Love put into action,” as Mother Teresa was accustomed to saying. She knew how to be all things for everyone; the tenderness, the smile of God living fully the law of transference and organic transfer.
We were all congregated, more than for the canonical declaration of sanctity for this new Teresa, but by the natural attachment to her and her work that we all had. And it was especially noted when in the brief but substantial homily, the Pope emphasized how difficult it will be to say “Saint Teresa of Calcutta,” when in reality his nearness and charism move us to continue saying “Mother Teresa of Calcutta.” This affirmation moved the multitude to respond with a tremendous applause.
This left me thinking. This cannot be separated, this woman is a saint, because most of all, she has been– a mother– and a mother to the poorest of the poor, because she has sheltered them with her mercy. She has transformed them by frequently giving them back the dignity that the this world’s powerful denied them, and she has also sent them forth to be missionaries of charity, of mercy. This Teresa has ben a living Shrine, inhabited by the Lord and by his Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary.
St. Peter’s piazza on 4 September was a testimony of a Church, where nobody is a stranger, where the poor are first, where sanctity is seen in the daily life of a mother, where the atmosphere of joy permeates everything, where through healthy and strong attachments Eternal Life is conquered. St. Peter’s piazza on the morning of 4 September was, without a doubt, the spiritual center of our Schoenstatt Family on the way, beating in the heart of the Church and in harmonious dialogue with all its charisms. “This wonderland is known to me (…..) it is my home, my Schoenstatt Land!” (Heavenwards p.177 )
Photos: Fr. Rolando Montes, María Fischer