Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Teresita de Lisieux and the great love that is given in small things

José Mª Alsina, superior of the Children of Our Lady of the sacred hearthas interviewed for the magazine Funds Vitae Father Pascual Cervera, General Coordinator of the Corpus Christi Movementa movement for priests who participate in the spirituality of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Cervera talks about his 22-year relationship with Mother Teresa.

They also talk about the connections between Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Teresa of Lisieux, two women at the same time small and very large, on the 125th anniversary of the death of Saint Teresa and 25 years of the death of Mother Teresa.

– How did you meet Mother Teresa?

– The first time I “saw” Mother Teresa was in a book I bought on a trip to Australia. There was born in me the curiosity to meet her and her nuns. On that trip, in a stop we made by chance in Bombay, I wanted to go to the house of the Missionaries of Charity. It was the time of the monsoons, the torrential rains. A sister greeted me with a big smile and led me into a room with a huge number of babies. The Sisters took great care of them and some were waiting for the families that were going to welcome them. I left there with great joy…

»Five years later, in 1980, I learned from the newspaper that Mother Teresa arrived in Madrid to found the first community in the neighborhood of Candil in Leganés. I approached the place where he was. I was surprised when I got there it was she who met me at the door. She quite naturally invited me to help them move furniturepreparing the house… She asked me to take her to the reception that was held for her in the local parish.

Pascual Cervera meets Mother Teresa in Spain in 1980

»On the trip I would ask him what he meant when he spoke of «giving love». She He told me that serving others out of love gave himself love. Arriving at the place where the “important people” (as she called them) were waiting for her, she got out of the car and looking at a young beggar he told me with joy: «There is one of ours there». He approached the beggar and lovingly looked at him and saw that he had one hand hidden behind his back. She would ask him and I would translate… ‘What’s your name? Does that hand hurt?’ He showed it to her and gently brought it closer. I was left with the face of that man and the affection of the Mother and I began to understand what it was to “give love.”

How did your desire to be a priest come about?

– When I was young I never wondered. I only remember that at school a Jesuit priest suggested it to me. I never remembered that again until the years passed.

»The discovery of Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, his way of praying before the Eucharist, his treatment of the poorest, his spirituality was opening me to the call of the Lord. At a volunteer meeting with Mother Teresa in Rome in 1982 I started to think about it. There, a priest, Fr. Joseph Langford MC, spoke to me about the priesthood and gave me a book about the Corpus Christi movement, a movement of priests associated with the spirituality of Mother Teresa.

»When I returned to Spain I thought that maybe the Lord was calling me to the priesthood. I made a retreat and returned to Rome to speak with Fr. Langford. Again, again in Spain, I found that Mother Teresa had arrived and I explained to her my thoughts about being a priest. Mother Teresa was very happy and told me not to worry about her, that she was going to help me. I accompanied her to the Toledo Seminary where she gave a talk.

“I didn’t know where to go. whatMadrid, Toledo, Rome? mother teresa He told me to talk to the auxiliary bishop of Madrid and to “talk to him as if he were my father.”». I honestly explained my situation to him and the bishop told me that it was best for me to go to Rome to be more free from my ties to work, family… From Rome, Mother she took me to the Bronx in New York and accompanied me to the seminary because she wanted to start an association for priests in that diocese. Four years later I was ordained a priest in St. Patrick’s Cathedral by the laying on of hands by Cardinal O’Connor.

Pascual Cervera with Mother Teresa in New York

– Once you were ordained a priest, what was your first meeting with Mother Teresa?

– After being ordained I went to Calcutta. When I met her, he kissed my hands and told me “divine providence has caused you to arrive because the priest who was going to give us the retreat has become ill.” I did not see myself capable, I told him that I did not feel prepared. Without hesitating, she told me: “Full stop” (there is no more to talk about), because he understood that the priest is prepared to bring Christ. I have always remembered this moment throughout my years of priestly life.

– What advice did Mother Teresa give you as a priest?

– She insisted that we had to be well trained and prepared because we had the mission of bringing Jesus to souls and helping the Missionaries of Charity sisters.

» He always talked about the importance of “availability.” I remember that when I was in New York, he called me on the phone to tell me that he needed me and if he could go to Albania (a country that was subjected to ferocious communism for 40 years) because he had founded a community there and they did not have a priest. She arranged everything so that the cardinal from New York would receive me the next day. When asked by my bishop if I was willing to go, I said yes.

»That same day I took the plane to Rome and from Rome I went to Albania. I found a very poor country, people wandered without knowing where to go, there were no churches, everything was destroyed… I began to celebrate Mass in the mountains, in the churches that had been turned into gyms, warehouses… The priests had been martyred.

»I remember one of the Masses in which the people approached devoutly from the mountains, they followed her on their knees because they did not know the Mass after the Council and I celebrated it in English. By lifting the body of Christ they sang the hymn “Christus vincit” (which is the tune of Radio Vaticana). I got excited. My availability opened me up to this marvelous experience of admiring the faith of that people who had been persecuted for so many years. There I learned about being willing that Mother Teresa repeated to us: “Be ready to expect the unexpected” (“be ready to expect the unexpected”). prepared to expect the unexpected”).

José María Alsina in his conversation with Pascual Cervera

José María Alsina (left) in his conversation with Pascual Cervera about Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa and the priesthood.

– What do you think Mother Teresa would say today to priests who may find themselves confused, tired or discouraged in their ministry today?

– Mother Teresa always spoke to us about the importance of to be aware of the gift we had received. She always encouraged us and exhorted us to value the immense gift of the priesthood that was always with us. A priest is always a priest and has in his hands the power to bring Jesus to others. She always told us that we had to be holy, do things simply and joyfully bring Jesus to others. Hard times are an opportunity to be holy.

“I will not forget a Mass that I celebrated in Calcutta in the Home for the Dying. in front of me was Mother Teresa with a dying man in her arms. She was a spitting image of La Piedad: The virgin with Jesus in her arms. Many times this image comes to my mind when I celebrate the Eucharist and this helps me to move forward. The priest is the one who puts Jesus in the arms of Mary, the one who places wounded humanity in the hands of the Father. That happens in all Masses, so it is worth always moving forward.

»Mother Teresa was always for us, the priests, a true Mother. I remember when we started our work in the neighborhood of the Bronx that he called us at night to ask if we were okay and some mornings he brought us breakfast to our house, worried about us. She from heaven sure that she also continues to act as “Mother” of the priests. That is why it is good that every priest who is experiencing difficulty entrusts himself to her and she will surely help him.

– What is Mother Teresa’s message for these times?

– Mother Teresa, faced with the evil that she contemplated with her eyes in the faces of the poorest and most abandoned, both materially and spiritually, did not complain She would “roll up her sleeves” and begin to serve with love. The strength of her dedication was found in her union with Jesus present in the Eucharist.

» We can all do this wherever we are, where the Lord has placed us; with our faithful prayer, with our selfless service to those closest to us. The needs are so many. I always think about the relevance and importance of those words of Mother Teresa: «The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. And the fruit of service is peace».

Saint Therese of Lisieux, Therese of the Child Jesus

Saint Teresa of Lisieux, Therese of the Child Jesus: 125 years have passed since her death.

– We are in this year in which the 125 years of the death of Teresita de Lisieux coincide with the 25 of Mother Teresa. What relationship did Mother Teresa have with Santa Teresita?

– Mother Teresa took the name “Teresa” in the congregation of the Hnas. de Loreto in which she entered through Santa Teresita de Lisieux, for being patron saint of the missions. If we approach the spirituality of Mother Teresa we see many “common” aspects with Saint Theresa. I would highlight the following:

him desire to quench the thirst of Jesus who directed the spirituality of the two saints.

b) The importance of love put into the smallest works. She said, “We can’t always do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

c) The dark night experience that for Saint Teresita it was 18 months before her death and for Mother Teresa it was 40 years, as we learned from her letters after her death.

d) His missionary vocation and his love for priests. Both one and the other burned with the desire to bring Jesus to everyone and were true “Mothers” for the priests.

e) And finally, as a central aspect common to these two saints, his love to the Heart of Jesus. Mother Teresa said: «By birth, I am Albanian. By citizenship, I am Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. By my vocation, I belong to the world. Through my heart, I totally belong to the Heart of Jesus» I think that Mother Teresa is the «incarnation of the spirit of Saint Therese of Lisieux» for our time with the apostolic characteristic of love for the poorest of the poorest.

– A phrase from Mother Teresa with which we can conclude our interview?

– «To the children and the poor, to all those who suffer and are alone, always give them a cheerful smile; not only give them your care but also your heart. We may not be able to give much, but we can always bring joy that springs from a heart full of love».

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Teresita de Lisieux and the great love that is given in small things