Mother Teresa moves
By Bill Ellis
closer to sainthood
For The Herald
Millions throughout the world watched, as I did, with deep and respectful interest the proceedings surrounding the beatification of Mother Teresa. I recalled the times I had been in St. Peter's Square when it seemed near empty compared to the estimated attendance of close to 300,000 which was one of its largest ever.
Pope John Paul II presided over the open-air mass which moved Mother Teresa one step closer to being made a saint, a status she has already attained in the hearts and minds of those who knew her best.
I had the honor of seeing and hearing her speak at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, Feb. 3, 1994, in the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Among those in attendance were President and Mrs. Clinton, Vice President and Mrs. Gore, Attorney General Janet Reno, numerous senators and representatives, leaders of the military, judges, and hundreds of our nation's leaders in government, business, sports, education, religion and other segments of public life, as well as foreign guests and dignitaries.
Mother Teresa stood on a small platform, as if it were her personal soapbox, to deliver her message. What a powerful message it was. I have a printed copy of the speech she gave. She talked plainly about the problems we face in the west - and especially in the United States.
She freely quoted the Word of God in pointing out the most serious ills of modern society. Among the problem areas she addressed were such issues as the break up of the family, our treatment of the elderly, drugs, poverty, insecurity and loneliness. Her attack on abortion pulled no punches. She hit this terrible sin with tremendous force.
Even though time was slipping away and, no doubt, some government leaders were anxious to get back to their offices, she was not about to quit until her message was delivered. She had not come all the way from Calcutta, India, to have her message aborted by the restraints of time. She was dealing with eternity.
Kitty and I both realized, that while sitting among the most powerful leaders of our nation and other countries of the world, we were also in the presence of one who had come to do God's will. She was determined to deliver the message she believed God had given her for our nation. And deliver it she did.
Sitting in her audience, the most powerful nearest her, were some of the strongest advocates of abortion in our land. But this giant of the faith and defender of the weakest and most helpless among us would not be deterred.
With strong conviction she said, "But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"
As she continued to build her argument against abortion, she then stated, "This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion." She further said, "We are fighting abortion by adoption - by care of the mother and adoption for her baby."
Then she pleaded, "Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child."
Billy Graham recalls that after that meeting, "The President said to a few of us, 'She's really something! I wish I had a faith like that.'" I also wish that for all government leaders.
Reviewing the life of Mother Teresa it is easy to reflect on the words of Psalm 116:15: "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Jesus taught, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:25 KJ). She lost her life here in service to others to find it forever with God.
The New Testament refers to all those who are in Christ as being saints. Living saints. Saints alive. St. Paul addressed his letter to the church in Ephesus, "To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:1 NIV).
There are real live saints in every place in the community of believers.
(Ellis, an award-winning columnist who also is a motivational speaker, may be contacted at PO Box 345, Scott Depot, WV 25560; by phone at 304-757-6089; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2003 Wm. C. Ellis All Rights Reserved)