Bl. Teresa of Calcutta saved Card. Comastri’s priesthood

From CNA with my emphases:

Cardinal Comastri recounts how Mother Teresa saved his priesthood

Rome, Italy, Aug 26, 2010 / 05:46 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica remembered at Mass on Thursday how a promise he made to Mother Teresa 40 years ago preserved his vocation. She taught him that without prayer, charity cannot exist.

Cardinal Comastri presided over the Eucharistic celebration at Rome’s San Lorenzo in Damaso Church, which had a very welcoming feel with the presence of more than 100 Missionaries of Charity sisters, over 20 concelebrating priests, local government leaders and a very diverse collection of faithful.

Church-goers were pleasantly surprised by the presence of newly-arrived prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who also concelebrated and read a message from the Pope at the beginning of Mass.

In a homily which emphasized that love is the foundation of our existence, Cardinal Comastri remembered a personal encounter he had with the Missionaries of Charity’s founder when he was just a young priest.

His first contact with Mother Teresa came when he mailed her a letter just after he was ordained a priest. Her "unexpected" response was especially striking, he recalled, because it was written on "very poor paper, in a very poor envelope."

At a later date, Cardinal Comastri sought her out when she was visiting Rome to thank her for the answer. When he found her, she asked him a question that left him "a little embarrassed."

"How many hours do you pray a day?" she asked.

In 1969-70, he recalled, the Church was in a time of "dispute," so thinking that it was "near heroism, then-Father Comastri explained to her that he said daily Mass in addition to praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary.”

To this, she responded flatly, "That’s not enough.

"Love cannot be lived minimally," she said, and then asked him to promise to do half an hour of adoration every day.

"I promised," said Cardinal Comastri, "and today I can say that this saved my priesthood."

Trying to defend his case at the time, he told Mother Teresa that he thought she was going to ask him how much charity he did. She answered him, "And do you think if I didn’t pray I would be able to love the poor? It’s Jesus that puts love in my heart when I pray."

She helped the poor, but it was "always Jesus’ love," the saintly sister told him.

Then, Mother told him something that he would never forget: she told him to read Scripture.

Through Jesus’ teachings, she said, we are reminded that "without God we’re too poor to help the poor.” This, she explained, "is why so much assistance falls into the void. It doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t contribute anything because it doesn’t bring love and it isn’t born of prayer."

Concluding, Cardinal Comastri said, "Through this little woman … we are reminded that charity is the apostolate of the Church and that charity is only born if we pray."

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  1. jmgarciajr says:

    A greater emphasis on Adoration and Scripture wouldn’t go amiss these days…

  2. Remember, all this was in the middle of Mother Theresa’s “darkness”, as her prayer brought her no consolation or feeling of God’s presence. All that prayer, when she “wasn’t getting anything out of it” by the standards of most people’s take on religion.

    But she had the sense to know that the food was nutritious even if her own tastebuds weren’t working, so to speak. Her prayer life, her openness to God, worked through her and helped other people, even though she could not feel it herself; and it gave her strength to continue, even if it didn’t usually feel like it. So when she gave that advice, she was giving it for the long haul and the tough times.

  3. GirlCanChant says:

    Wow, that is so beautiful. I think I may have to squeeze some Adoration time on my way home from work tonight now. I haven’t done it in a while. :-(

  4. WaywardSailor says:

    Three things jump out at me from this. First, her question, which was not “Do you pray every day?” but rather, “How many hours do you pray a day?”. Second, her statement that “love cannot be lived minimally” – advice that is well taken by everyone, regardless of their vocation. Finally, Mother Theresa’s emphasis on prayer, even when in her own life she was experiencing spiritual darkness, prayer which converted “her feeling of abandonment by God into an act of abandonment to God”. What a powerful lesson for these times and concrete example of St. Paul’s exhortation to “pray without ceasing”, placing our trust in God even when there are so many reasons to be pessimistic about the future.

  5. FrCharles says:

    Wow. Thanks for the challenge, Mother.

  6. Radagast the Brown says:

    God bless Mother Teresa. Her simple advice is deep and infused with wisdom. This is terrific advice not for priests or the ordained, but the laity as well.
    It is incredible that deceased saints like Bl. Mother Teresa continue to exhort and challenge us to grow further in holiness through prayer, scripture reading, and service. This is indispensable advice for advancing in holiness, as holiness is precisely what this spiritually impoverished world needs.

  7. medievalist says:

    Bl. Mother Theresa was Martha and Mary. It is through the merits and prayers of saints and blessed like her that the Catholic both/and option will always overcome those in the Church who say that prayer and charity, tradition and progress, liturgy and works, cannot exist together.

  8. Jack Hughes says:

    to be Martha and Mary – quite a task

  9. Agnes says:

    “Without prayer, you are nothing but a social worker.” I can’t remember who said it, but it is true. To say work IS our prayer is using St. Therese’s Little Way as a cop-out. Prayer begets works. Ordained ministers and lay folks working in the Church have to be careful not to say “Here’s what I do for God and for neighbor. Good enough.” If we don’t see to our own souls (making time to develop intimacy with God) what could we possibly have worth giving to others? For the ordained, you can give Sacraments, no matter the state of your soul. Absolutely. But there is more. You are so much more than Sacramental Pez dispensers!

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