Today, 20 years ago, he left for the House of Father Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu after a life dedicated to charity. It is revered today by the Catholic Church as St. Teresa of Calcutta.
It can be said, without a doubt, that Mother Teresa – as she was known in life – always fixed her eyes on those forgotten by society. Last year, on the occasion of his canonization, I quoted here his words on the aborted children, victims of a dramatic spiritual decline that is giving rise to a genuine silent genocide. He also devoted his energies to helping the poorest of the poor, caring for the sick – especially the lepers – and comforting the dying. But there are some forgotten ones that I would like to talk about today: the elders.
Western society is becoming more and more old. There are more and more elderly and fewer children. A future of loneliness looms over us. Already today, in regions like my own – Galicia – there are many elderly people living alone. From time to time they discover someone who has been dead time in their home, without anyone noticing. Others are literally abandoned in nursing homes. On February 3, 1994, Mother Teresa remembered them in her speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, United States (you can read it here). I would especially like to highlight these paragraphs:
“When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.
I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and forgotten them – maybe. I saw that in that home these old people had everything – good food, comfort- able place, television, everything, but everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: “Why do these people who have every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?”
I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile…
And Sister said: “This is the way it is nearly every day. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.” And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we there to be with them, or do we merely put them in the care of others? Are we willing to give until it hurts in order to be with our families, or do we put our own interests first? These are the questions we must ask ourselves, especially as we begin this year of the family. We must remember that love begins at home and we must also remember that the future of humanity passes through the family.“
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