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Mother Teresa's global impact at center of UN exhibit

Banner mother teresa prayer card for wyd pilgrims in krakow poland on july 25 2016 credit kate veik cna

Mother Teresa prayer card for WYD pilgrims in Krakow, Poland on July 25, 2016. Credit Kate Veik/CNA.

New York City, N.Y., Aug 28, 2016 / 06:05 pm (CNA).- Mother Teresa’s tireless work for the poor and her relevance for global affairs will be featured at the United Nations, whose New York headquarters will host several events on her life as an unprecedented tribute to a saint of the Catholic Church.  

Msgr. Leo Maasburg will be among the participants in the U.N. commemorations. He told CNA that Mother Teresa “was more than just a Catholic nun with a big heart for the poor.” “She was a missionary and an ambassador for the sanctity of life, never growing weary of advocating for the dignity of the unborn, the sick and the dying,” he said.   Msgr. Maasburg said he believes her views on politics and society and her messages to the world’s elite “have not had the attention they would deserve.”  

The priest, who was born in Austria, was Mother Teresa’s spiritual director for several months in 1988 when she opened her first houses in Moscow and Armenia. He also traveled with her to India, Rome and many other places around the world.  

Msgr. Maasburg said the nun was “someone who tried to act rather than to talk.”  “At the same time, she was deeply rooted in prayer, and I think this is what made her so effective,” he said, adding “everything she did, she tried to do for and with the first and only love of her life: Jesus.”  

The United Nations’ conference building in New York will host a Mother Teresa exhibit Sept. 6-9. The exhibit, titled “Leave No One Behind,” is organized by the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations and the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group.  

At the close of the exhibit, a conference will discuss Mother Teresa’s enduring message to the international community. Msgr. Maasburg will be among the conference speakers.

Mother Teresa’s life and work and its relevance to the international community will also be in focus.  

The nun addressed the U.N. General Assembly for its 40th anniversary in October 1985.

Her Nobel Prize acceptance speech 1979 is still considered a milestone. She mentioned abortion as one of the biggest threats to peace, saying “the nations that have legalized abortion are the poorest countries.” 

That very passage was on the mind of Alan Sears, president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom International. He told CNA that “there can be no true peace as long as any society is committed to the taking of life, especially in the womb.”  

“For too long,” he said, “abortionists and their allies promoted and profited from infanticide throughout Europe with few to stand against them. ADF International was formed to advance Mother Teresa’s legacy, and to advocate for life in courts, government chambers and in the courtroom of public opinion across the globe.”  

Sears added that aside from her work with and for the poor, Mother Teresa “was also an outspoken advocate for the protection of life -- from the unborn to the sick and dying – and the family.”  He stressed that ADF International “seeks to honor her legacy by defending the sanctity of life, family and marriage, and religious freedom at international organizations like the United Nations.”  

Mother Teresa, he said, “was the perfect example of how God’s truth, when conveyed with grace and love, can bring peace to all.”   For Sears, religious freedom must be continually defended “to ensure that all are free to spread that same message.”  

Msgr. Maasburg added that Mother Teresa’s spirituality is something that needs more examination and understanding.   This spirituality is one that suffered the “darkness of the soul,” as other saints before her. This is “a mystical experience,” Msgr. Maasburg said. Sometimes saintly people receive it as “a particular gift from God.”  

“It allows them to share in the redemption of mankind which has distanced itself from God through sin,” he explained.    Mother Teresa’s experience “will not teach us how ‘to get out’ of this darkness, (but) it can help us to bear it if we are granted the honor to experience it.”  

"It is certainly not an easy experience,” he said. In her letters, the nun described this experience as “the absence of God.”   “(To) remain faithful in this suffering has a deeply spiritual effect on souls,” the monsignor said.

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