Mother Theresa of Calcutta was a huge influence in my life. When I was in University, I became stupidly agnostic after studying Descartes in Philosophy where he began to prove the existence of God from his own experience of existence. I was taught to start from me to go to prove what was reality. It was ego centric philosophy. At that time I told myself if I were ever to believe in God, I would literally give up everything and follow Jesus.
Years later, reading the life of St. Francis, I found in him a true follower of Jesus Christ in leaving wealth and friends to follow Jesus Christ. I call St. Francis a fundamentalist, Bible believing Catholic.
After spending 2 months working with the poor in Salvador, Bahai Brazil, with a holy nun, (Dulce Irma), I decided to simplify my life and not be a contributor to the poverty of the my brothers and sisters of the the 3rd World.
But before this, I had seen a movie on the work of Mother Theresa of Calcutta. It had a profound effect on me. I was living a very hedonistic life at that time. I was generous to those I knew had need, but it never really effected the affluent life I was living. So needless to say Mother Theresa had a huge influence on my life.
My parents were part of Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker Movement in the 1940’s. They lived by the ideal that the intellectuals were to move to the country and live like peasants and do all the manual labor themselves rather than paying others to do it. They also were strongly against receiving interest or investing in the Stock Market. They told us children that it was unjust to make money with out working. Later on I had friends who helped at a Catholic Worker Hospitality House. This too inspired me, hearing how they took care of the poor.
So, in 1982 I sold all my houses and started the St. Francis Catholic Kitchen in Santa Cruz California, following the examples of, first; Jesus, second; St. Francis; third; Mother Theresa and fourth; Dorothy Day. At this time I was what you would call an orthodox Catholic who believed and practiced all the teachings of the Catholic Church.
But in all reality, Mother Theresa, with whom I talked on the phone and saw in person, was a huge influence on the way I worked with the poor. I even copied their rule of only having two sets of clothes, (one to wear and one to wash). I also slept on the floor because they did. Her emphasis on love, on a smile, on seeing Jesus in the poor, all formed my way of working with the poor.
Still, to this day, I have lived by what Mother Theresa taught. She said; ‘If you do God’s will, you will never need to raise money for works of charity’. St. Francis Catholic Kitchen always had more than enough money. We never ever needed to raise money. It just flowed in by God’s grace. Hesitantly, under much pressure from co-workers at the Kitchen, I did do a fund raiser to raise money to start the Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s Home for homeless.
Both in the nine years I worked with the poor, and all the years I worked as a priest, this philosophy has been proven true. As a pastor for 10 years at St. Patrick’s Church in Ripon/Escalon California, money just kept pouring in. I never charged for anything like catechism, documents, weddings and 15era’s, (for these we did have a suggested donation of $200), baptisms.
When I arrived at the parish, there was $240,000 in the bank. In the ten years as pastor, I literally spent millions, (on roofs, remodels, 22 acres and an adoration chapel), and when I left, there was still $1,400,000 in the bank for the new church. Catholic bishops and priests think that the Church should be run like businesses. No, do God’s will, and money, (from God, through generous people), just comes flowing in.
So, having said all this, as traditional Catholics there is something that bothers us greatly about what Mother Theresa said; that she would never try to convert the Hindus and other pagans with whom she worked to the Catholic faith. I know that the Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim people of India prohibited her to postalize in the buildings that they gave her. I would never have accepted those building from the Indian Government on those conditions.
Nevertheless, I greatly admire Mother Theresa’s endless love for the poor, the unborn and humanity. But I also know that the greatest way to love people, is by saving their souls. The suffering here is nothing compared with the suffering in hell.
Mother Theresa did convert many many people to Catholicism by her prayers and simple example. But, every soul counts.
As traditional Catholics we can sin by writing off Mother Theresa as bad, because she failed to try to convert these pagans she worked with. We can condemn that part, and at the same time learn a great deal from her example, words and great works of charity.
We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and live to save souls through Our Beloved Savior Jesus Christ.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.