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Archive for October, 1997

October 1997

Chaplain’s Counsel

My Dear Brother Knights,

First of all, I want to offer my congratulations again to our new officers for the coming fraternal year. Secondly, October is Respect Life Month, a theme that is very dear to our hearts and to our labors. Even prior to Mother Teresa’s death, the NCCB had proposed a program that would link her work with the Gospel of Life. Her entire life was a witness to Christ’s special love for the poor, the sick, and the outcast. The unborn child is the most vulnerable of human beings. At the national prayer breakfast some time back, Mother Teresa was warned to avoid certain topics as they might embarrass the other guests, i.e., the President. No sooner did she speak, that she breached the topic of abortion. Her words were as blunt as her life was selfless. She said that any nation that destroyed its children through abortion could have no legitimate love for the poor. In other words, while the holocaust of innocents continues, all our words about the disadvantaged and the impoverished would remain empty rhetoric. She was right. Akin to the Pope, who spoke about the value of unborn children when the President met his plane in Denver a few years ago, the desire for toleration and harmony can never be allowed to displace the truth or to silence cries of injustice. The image of our Holy Father weeping at the news of Mother Teresa’s death will always remain with me. Together they have brought the Light of Christ to a world swallowed by darkness. Everyone matters. The beggar on the street, the untouchables of society, the diseased, the aged, the afflicted, the lonely, the retarded, the minority, and the unborn child — all of us are precious in God’s eyes and are called to an eternal destiny. The problem is not that the world is too small to make room for everyone; the real dilemma is that our hearts are not large enough.

Mother Teresa often compared herself to a pencil, saying that God was the real author of all her good works. This being the case, I think we would all agree that God composed a Love Sonnet in this saintly woman. Her discernment is at the heart of our understanding of the Mystical Body and the Incarnation. Christ, our Savior and Lord, extends and perpetuates his saving ministry through those conformed to him through grace. Mother Teresa is a wonderful contemporary example of allowing this presence to be realized in each of us. Against her critics, she would admit that she and her sisters were not social workers — they were sisters dedicated to loving and to caring for those often cast aside by the world as unlovable. The austere life embraced by the Missionaries of Charity also ran in contradiction with worldly values. Hard beds, no carpeting, no hot water, no radios, no televisions, no newspapers — no extravagances whatsoever — just loving prayer and service. During the Cold War, while nuclear arms failed to make inroads past the Iron and Bamboo Curtains, Mother Teresa and her holy women were invited into such places as Cuba, the Soviet Union, and China. Jesus said that if we had faith the size of the mustard seed, we could move mountains and uproot the largest of trees. She and her sisters did precisely that — moving the mountains of prejudice, doubt, and indifference.

Mother Teresa remarked that she found a poverty in the United States far worse that in the streets of Calcutta — a poverty of the soul. As a modern disciple of Jesus, she sought to redirect us back to Christ — a presence found in the Eucharist and in each other. May we also recognize the “real presence” in our churches and in the little ones of the world, especially the unborn. Toward this end, she was most appreciative to the Knights of Columbus. During this month when we remember our patron who brought the faith to the new world, may we also view ourselves as missionaries of God’s love.

Keep up the good work. May God bless all the activities of our Knights and our Auxiliaries.

Your Servant in Christ,

Fr. Joseph A. Jenkins, Jr.

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