Sunday, September 4, 2016

Saint Mother Teresa: "The Princess and the Saint"

I'm blogging now for the National Catholic Register and I offered these reflections on Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Princess Diana, especially commenting on their very different funerals in 1997:

Nineteen years ago from August 31 to September 6, you could not avoid the media coverage of the death of Princess Diana, the former Princess of Wales (except by turning off the television and radio). Debate raged about who was to blame for her death after a car crash in Paris: the drunken limousine driver, the paparazzi, or the Royal Family. Stephen Frears’ 2006 film The Queen, with Helen Mirren in the title role, depicts the public outrage when Elizabeth II does not respond with the demonstrations of grief her subjects demand.
Diana’s funeral, held in Westminster Abbey, included both tradition and innovation, with Sir Elton John singing a special version of “Candle in the Wind”, originally written about Marilyn Monroe, and her brother’s eulogy which attacked the press and criticized the Royal Family. English pomp and circumstance combined with celebrity status. Hundreds of thousands watched the services on screens in Hyde Park and the funeral was carried live on TV and radio. The media tones were hushed and reverential for “the people’s princess”.
Reports were that Diana was buried on the family estate holding in her folded hands a rosary given to her by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta had died the day before Diana’s funeral, on September 5, 1997. While she was granted the honor of a State funeral in India, ABC News with Peter Jennings chose to have Christopher Hitchens, her most virulent critic, add his commentary to the broadcast of her funeral Mass. 

Mother Teresa commented on the different kind of poverty she had found in the United States and in Western countries:

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

Mother Teresa probably saw in Diana what Charles Spencer called his sister's great insecurity and feeling of unworthiness. We know she saw Jesus in Princess Diana, as she saw Him in everyone who suffers--and everyone suffers!

Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

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