This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to go to Kolkata, India on a mission trip and served with the Missionaries of Charity. Before I went on this trip I really didn’t know too much about Mother Teresa, except that she served the poor and had really cute quotes on Pinterest. I don’t think I really understood how difficult India was going to be and how much I was going to be pushed out of my comfort zone. The first two weeks I was there I felt just completely empty and drained, especially in prayer. I was getting overwhelmed by the commotion of India and a little annoyed at the other people in my group who were having these big epiphanies from God and feeling such consolation. I was upset that I had traveled all the way across the world to feel completely drained and empty. I was so confused and did not understand why God had brought me to this place.
There was one afternoon, probably at the end of the second week, we were there when the MC’s needed some volunteers to watch Mother’s tomb while the novices were taking their first vows. My group said yes. When it was my turn to watch Mother Teresa’s tomb, the rest of the group got invited up to the mass, which left me alone with Mother Teresa for about 2-3 hours. At first, I was a little mad. Why was I down here when everyone else got to experience this beautiful mass upstairs? I didn’t realize exactly why God had left me down there. So feeling upset and empty, I went to the tomb of the patron saint of desolation, asking for some help and guidance. And when I looked up I saw a picture of one of the three visions Mother Teresa had on the September 10th. It was her “call within a call” vision. It was Mother looking up at the cross with Mary’s hands on her shoulders, guiding her to the foot of the cross. I thought it was a beautiful image, but didn’t think too much of it. But for some reason, that image just kept on popping up in my head throughout the next few days. It wasn’t until adoration three days later that I really started to meditate on it.
The Catholics in India are very charismatic and outwardly express their devotion to our Lord, Mary, and the Saints. One of the ways that they expressed their devotion was by going up to statues and touching them as if they were real people. At first, I thought this was a little extra, but then I saw the beauty in it. During that one adoration when I was meditating on Mary standing behind Mother Teresa, I saw this little India woman go up to a statue of Our Lady and kiss her feet and stare up at her as if it was really Mary. Then something stirred in my heart to follow that woman and go to the statue of Mary. Once adoration had ended and the chapel was pretty empty, I went up to the statue and close my eyes and started to pray. I felt a pull in my heart to put my hand in the clay hand of Mary. I was a little embarrassed to do it, but they bucked up and held Mary’s hand. At that moment I felt such peace rush over my whole body. I felt protected and consoled. It was so weird, but I kept doing it every time I went into the chapel. I went up to Mary, put my hand in hers and asked her to guide me to her most Beloved Son. It’s crazy to say that putting my hand in a clay hand of Mary’s helped me open up my heart and really ask her to guide me to her son. And she really did! She helped me open my heart in adoration to worship him without fear, to open my heart to receiving him in the Eucharist, and recognizing that the sweet children I was serving in the homes were Jesus in disguise.
I think so often in life we are afraid to ask for help, especially when it comes to service and our spiritual life. So many times in my life I feel like I can do it on my own and if I work really hard and push myself I will become “holier”, but that’s not true. We don’t get to know Jesus on a personal level by walking through the motions, but by really experiencing him and opening up our hearts to his graces. And that is why we MUST ask Our Lady for help! She is the closest person to Jesus in the whole world. She looked after him when he was a baby, had faith in him during his ministry, and stood by him when everyone else had deserted him at Calvary. No one has loved him more perfectly than his mother, so why don’t we ask her to help us love him better? Why don’t we ask her to guide us to him? Ever since India, my relationship with the Blessed Mother has transformed. She’s not just someone who I pray to when I want my car keys to magically appear, but she is my mother, my friend, and my tour guide to heaven! She became so much more to me once I got over myself and asked her for help. I encourage you all the next time you pray, to look at Mary, and not see what you can get out of her, but look at her as a friend and a mother who wants you to experience the best thing in this whole world, the love of her Son, Jesus Christ!
“Oh, Most Pure and Loving Heart,
Of my Mother and my Queen,
Grant that I may love thee,
Love the daily more and more,
Grant that I may love thee,
Love the daily more and more!”