Priest Who Knew Mother Teresa Said She Believed It Was Better to Light One Candle

Priest Who Knew Mother Teresa Said She Believed It Was Better to Light One Candle September 6, 2016

MotherTeresa WikimediaCommons(Photo © 1986 Túrelio (via Wikimedia-Commons), 1986 / Lizenz: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-2.0 de)

In light of the Christopher motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,” this excerpt from a New York Times story ahead of her canonization stood out:

When the Rev. Sebastian Vazhakala, the co-founder with Mother Teresa of Missionaries of Charity-Contemplative Brothers, sought a place to live in Rome in 1979, he moved to a run-down area — just off what was once the ancient Roman road of Via Praenestina — populated by roughly 8,000 living in improvised shacks. “For me it was like Kolkata, this was a slum,” he recalled.

A small group of brothers cleared the land and built roads, integrating with a citywide program to rehabilitate neglected neighborhoods. In 1993, they opened a shelter for homeless men, Casa Serena. Today it provides beds and showers for 80 people, along with two hot meals a day.

Giuseppe, a middle-aged Roman who declined to give his last name, has been a guest at Casa Serena for just under two months. “From one moment to the next, I went from the stars to the stables,” he said of his setback. “I hope it doesn’t last long.”

He said he had come to know Mother Teresa better during his stay, since her words are used as annotations throughout the guesthouse. “What she did was very human,” he said.

“I learned from her that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness,” said Father Vazhakala, who was part of the first group of six men who took vows in 1968, and the only one of that group to remain in the Missionaries of Charity family. “Those are not her words, but she was practicing that. She would say, ‘If I can do something, then I must do it.’”

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