Mike Aquilina

From Carthage to Calcutta

Wednesday October 03rd 2007, 12:39 am

In a recent issue of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, there appeared an essay by Father Sebastian Vazhakala, who co-founded, with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the priestly division of the Missionaries of Charity. Googling around, I learned that the essay had appeared in a newsletter earlier this year, and here it is. Father Sebastian is obviously steeped in the doctrine of St. Augustine. I encourage you to read his essay, but I’ll reproduce the Augustine quotes here for your pondering. (The L’Osservatore Romano version includes citations.)

“There is no coming to unity without humility; there is no love without the openness of humble patience. Where humility reigns, there is love.”

“I would wish that you place yourself with all your love under Christ, and that you pave no other way in order to reach and to attain the truth that has already been paved by him who, as God, knows the weakness of our steps. This way is, in the first place, humility; in the second place, humility; in the third place humility…As often as you ask me about the Christian religion’s norms of conduct, I choose to give no other answer than: humility.”

“To the extent that we are freed from the malignant swelling, which is called pride, we are filled with love.”

“God’s hatred for pride is so strong that he would rather see humility in evil deeds than pride in good deeds.”

“It is much better to be married and humble than celibate and proud.”

“If you see Charity, you see Trinity.”

“Longing is always at prayer, even though the tongue is silent. If your yearning is constant, then you are always praying. When does our prayer sleep? Only when our desire cools.”

“In faith, hope and love we are always praying with uninterrupted longing. But at particular hours and times we entreat God also with words so that, through these verbal signs of the reality we may impel ourselves to greater effort, help ourselves become aware of how much progress we have made in this desire, and rouse ourselves to grow in it with greater vitality…Therefore at certain times, we call our spirit back to prayer from the other cares and activities, which in some way cloud our yearning.”