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Reflections on the life, work, and canonization of St. Teresa Print
Guest column
Thursday, Sep. 15, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
Lindsay Becher

"God thirsts that we may thirst for him." -- Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2560

I thirst.

These words spoken from Jesus on the cross were also imprinted on the heart of St. Teresa of Kolkata (Mother Teresa) on September 10, 1946, and every day forward.

These words, and what Jesus revealed to her about them on a train ride that "Inspiration Day," changed her life. Through the Church's newest saint, they have also changed mine.

With simple, straightforward words, St. Teresa would ask the Sisters in her community (the Missionaries of Charity) if they understood how much Jesus thirsts for them and their love time and again. She continues to ask us today: do we understand how much He thirsts for our hearts, our love?

St. Teresa as patron

Over the past eight years, as I have invested my time, heart, and energy into Love Begins Here (LBH) [local mission trips for teens], I have heard this echo of St. Teresa's voice in my head week after week. Have I spent time thinking about how deep Jesus' love for me is? Am I so busy with my work that I don't rest in His love?

Truth be told, on the mission field of LBH, the answers too often are not enough. Life is busy on our mission trips; there are neighbors to serve, meals to prepare, teens to know, and fun to be had.

With St. Teresa of Kolkata as our patron, we do our best to model our days and lives after her. We attend Mass, pray the Rosary, and seek out silent time with the Lord each day.

In prayer, we hope our missionaries' hearts encounter the thirst of the one who loves them and seeks them out.

From this place of encounter, it is possible to carry out our work for Him.

Eight years and 50 weeks of LBH mission trips in, I have had some time to live this rhythm of life.

Having been blessed with the grace and gift to start LBH and nurture its growth, each week, I sit before the Lord and try to open my heart to understanding his love a bit better.

Gift of a lifetime

On July 16 of this summer, I experienced His love for me in a beautiful way through the LBH family. Without my knowing, families, former Core Team, and missionaries came together to raise money to send me and a friend to Rome for the canonization of the woman who has interceded for Love Begins Here since the start.

I had been given the gift of a lifetime -- nine days in Rome and having the chance to be in the heart of the Church, as Pope Francis declared Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint.

I was overwhelmed with love that day -- I knew I was appreciated, valued, and loved -- all things we hope those our missionaries serve feel after we give of ourselves to them. But, with this gift, I also came to understand the reality of God's love more intimately.

He thirsts for me, longs for me to be near to Him. I didn't deserve this trip to Rome; even more, I don't deserve His love for me.

Gifts and graces given to those who are undeserving simply have to be received. With an open and grateful heart, I left for Rome.

Trip to Rome

During the trip, I experienced many beautiful moments I imagined would take place -- the pure joy of hearing Mother Teresa declared a saint in St. Peter's Square, meeting other pilgrims whose lives have been changed by her, and spending time in prayer, grateful for the Lord's goodness towards LBH up to this point.

What I didn't expect was how near I would feel to St. Teresa. Among events planned for canonization week, the Missionaries of Charity hosted a pop-up museum dedicated to learning about her life.

Surrounded by her image and her possessions, while reading from her journals, I felt like I was given the chance to enter more intimately into friendship with a woman I already loved.

I know the gift of this trip and the days in Rome granted me a deeper understanding of God's love and the words, "I thirst". They also taught me how to better respond to this great love.

As St. Teresa had instructed her Sisters, the best response to Jesus' thirst is our willingness to quench it, out of love. We first quench his thirst by coming to Him, then by going out to serve those He loves.

Lindsay Becher is the coordinator of youth and young adult formation in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Madison.