Meeting the Superior General of the MC's
The last part of our mission trip across the world was a very special meeting. Our group had the honor of having a private encounter with Sr. Mary Prema, who is the current superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, which means that she is in charge of all Missionaries of Charity (over 5,000!) in the entire world. I can’t imagine that it is easy being a successor of a saint! She surely has very big (or should I say very little?) shoes to fill.
We had the meeting in the mother house of the order in a humble room next to the tomb of Mother Teresa. Even though she recently arrived from a very long trip, she had a very humble, yet motherly patience, gentleness, and subtle joy – true marks of a Missionary of Charity.
She was very happy to learn that we were well on our way to the priesthood, and we had the opportunity to absorb some of her words of wisdom and encouragement. She started off by reminding us that none of our experiences in Kolkata are supposed to end. Rather, we are always called to love and serve God in the poorest of the poor wherever we are, whether that be material or spiritual poverty. In this sense, Kolkata is everywhere, even in the seminary; yet we are not to become mere social workers. We need to make sure that all of our work, whatever our mission, must be saturated in prayer and complete docility to the Holy Spirit from start to finish. We are not just trying to help people live more comfortable natural lives, we are ultimately trying to bring others to Jesus so that they might live a supernatural life.
Sr. Prema also gave some reflections on serving the poorest of the poor. Like St. Teresa, her words were very profound and simple: “It often seems true that the more you have, the less you have to give, and the less you have, the more you have to give.” Before my volunteer experience, these words would have easily confused me. Isn’t it true that you cannot give what you do not have? So the more we have, the more we have the capacity to give, right? Yet, after serving at the home for the dying for the past two weeks, I knew exactly what she was talking about. The more you have, the easier it is to become attached to something that is not Jesus, and less you have, the easier it is to receive and cling to Jesus.
The people I served had nothing: no family, possessions, comfort, or even full control of their bodily functions. I have everything: family, friends, health, comfort, money, and education. Yet, they were able to serve and teach me more than I could ever serve or teach them. Their poverty gave me a profound opportunity to detach myself from a life that made me comfortable. They gave me an opportunity to so tangibly give myself to them in small acts of self-sacrificial love; acts which forced me to live outside of myself in incredibly different and uncomfortable ways. I am convinced that the problem of evil may not be such a problem after all. Darkness gives an opportunity to shed light. Pain gives an opportunity to give comfort. Hurt gives an opportunity to heal. All of these problems give us opportunities to love like Jesus loves. Our participation in Jesus’ love is truly so much more beautiful and pure than the world is ugly and messy. I am convinced that the most beautiful of flowers are found amidst a city of garbage: “Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk 6:20).
Thank you Sr. Prema!