Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 21, 2014 / 02:37 am (CNA).- “The world today is upside down, and is suffering so much, because there is so very little love in the homes and in family life.”

One could easily attribute these words to any number of participants in the extraordinary gathering of the Synod of Bishops in Rome that recently came to a close.

But, in reality, these were the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in an interview with a Christian magazine nearly two decades ago.

“She was talking about the breakdown of the family way before anybody else,” explained David Scott, vice chancellor for communications at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “Over and over again, she would tell people, ‘You deal with the poor in the abstract and you forget about the poor in your own home’.”

“The poor are the kids you’re ignoring to do your job,” Scott said. “They’re the wife you’re ignoring at the end of the day, when you come home from work. Love really does begin in the home.”

Scott is author of a newly published book titled “The Love that Made Mother Teresa: How Her Secret Visions and Dark Nights Can Help You Conquer the Slums of your Heart” (Sophia Institute Press, 2014). Currently available online, the 113-page book is part biography and part catechesis.

Blessed Mother Teresa became a household name after she was featured in the Malcolm Muggeridge-produced BBC special “Something Beautiful for God.” In 1979, she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite her international familiarity, very little is known about the life of the Albanian nun. She was born Agnes Gonxha in 1910 in present-day Macedonia. She first recognized her call to religious life during an annual family pilgrimage to a local Marian shrine.

In 1928, she traveled to India to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto. Nearly two decades later – while riding a train from Calcutta to Darjeeling - she was inspired to start a new religious order: the Missionaries of Charity.
 
Scott told CNA that his book is geared toward Catholics who may mistakenly think they know everything there is to know about Blessed Mother Teresa.

“That's certainly how I was when I starting writing the book,” he reflected. “I thought she was a neat nun who did neat things with the poor. But, the more you know about her, the more you realize she was a mystic living in the slums.”

Furthermore, Scott said, Mother Teresa's life and work is also extremely relevant to the modern-day Church.

He pointed to her early warnings about the breakdown of family life as well as her similarities to Pope Francis.

“The existential peripheries that Pope Francis talks about are the places in the human heart where we’ve got our sins, our addictions, all the loneliness we feel, all the indifference and injustice we have,” Scott explained. “(Blessed Mother Teresa) was writing and thinking and living all those things a long time before.”

In her 1997 book “No Greater Love,” Mother Teresa characterizes this spiritual poverty as a slum found in the heart of every person. She writes: “The streets of Calcutta lead to every man's door, and the very pain, the very ruin of our Calcutta of the heart witness to the glory that once was and ought to be.”

Scott chose to reference Mother Teresa's words on the slums of the human heart in the subtitle of his book. He said her words inspired him with their darkness, beauty and mystery.

“She's taking the very physical image of the slums and applying it to our hearts,” he said. “We make our hearts a kind of heap of ruins because of our sins, our selfishness and all of the ways we're indifferent to people.”

“But, under all that debris, we were given a heart and it was made clean in baptism. We have to get back to conversion – and part of that conversion is opening ourselves up to others, especially to the poor.”


 

Boise. Idaho, Oct 20, 2014 / 12:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Two Christian ministers in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, could face legal punishment or be forced to sell their nearly 100-year-old wedding chapel for declining to perform same-sex “wedding” ceremonies.

“Many have denied that pastors would ever be forced to perform ceremonies that are completely at odds with their faith, but that’s what is happening here – and it’s happened this quickly,” Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel with the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, said Oct. 18.

“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” he said. “The city cannot erase these fundamental freedoms and replace them with government coercion and intolerance.”

Tedesco responded to the changing legal climate in Idaho, which is threatening the work of David and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

Married for 47 years, the couple has operated the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel since 1989. The 95-year-old chapel sits across the street from the Kootenai County Clerk’s office.

Coeur d’Alene’s city officials have told the Knapps that their refusal to perform a same-sex ceremony at their chapel violates the city’s anti-discrimination policy. For each day they refuse to perform the ceremony, they face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

The city’s application of its anti-discrimination ordinance follows a federal court override of Idaho’s constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Knapps seeking a temporary restraining order against the city law.

“If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for one week, they risk going to jail for over three years and being fined $7,000,” the lawsuit said. “If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for 30 days, they risk going to jail for over 14 years and being fined $30,000. If the Knapps refuse to perform one same-sex ceremony for a year, they risk going to jail for 180 years and being fined $365,000.”

The Knapps’ limited liability corporation which operates the chapel, Hitching Post Weddings, says in its founding statement that the business intends to promote biblical marriage.

The chapel’s religious ceremonies invoke God’s blessing on the newlyweds and cite the Bible in encouraging the couple to have a successful marriage. Couples married at the chapel receive a CD with two sermons about marriage and receive recommendations for many Christian books on marriage. The Knapps charge a small fee for marriages at the chapel.

“The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended,” Tedesco said.

The lawsuit charges that the city’s application of the law also violates Idaho’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Donald Knapp in May told the Spokane, Washington news station KXLY that he “cannot unite people in a way that I believe would conflict with what the Bible teaches.”

“I don't hate those people. I don't think anybody should ever be abusive or mistreat them or anything like that, but I cannot in clear conscience unite such a couple,” he said.

The Knapps said in May that if the law forces them to perform the same-sex ceremonies they will look into selling the chapel.

Warren Wilson, an official with the city attorney’s office, in May told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that the Hitching Post would “probably be considered a place of accommodation” that would be subject to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

Jonathan Scruggs, legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the city “cannot mandate across-the-board conformity to its interpretation of a city ordinance in utter disregard for the guaranteed freedoms Americans treasure in our society.”

“The city somehow expects ordained pastors to flip a switch and turn off all faithfulness to their God and their vows,” he said.
 

Steubenville, Ohio, Oct 18, 2014 / 06:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Receiving an award recognizing their works of service, members of the Little Sisters of the Poor stressed the need for loving attention and care for the elderly, particularly by the youth.

“I urge you to fight against the tendency to marginalize and abandon the elderly, to commit what the Pope refers to as ‘hidden euthanasia’,” Sister Constance Veit, the Little Sisters’ U.S. national communications director, said Oct. 10.

She spoke at an awards ceremony at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, where the Little Sisters were awarded the Poverello Medal in honor of their service.

Sr. Veit said that the elderly “have become the contemporary outcasts” of society at a time when their numbers are increasing. The elderly will make up 19 percent of the U.S. population by 2030, she said.

She called for a “covenant between generations” to join young and old together.

Franciscan University president Father Sean O. Sheridan, T.O.R., said the Little Sisters offer “the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family, and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to himself.”

The Poverello Medal is named for St. Francis of Assisi, who was called Il Poverello, “the little poor man.” It commemorates those who show strength of character and Christian charity in their love for and service to the poor.

Sister Loraine Maguire, provincial superior of the Little Sisters’ Baltimore Province, accepted the medal on behalf of the sisters.

“I see in this medal the symbol of all the things that matter: to be poor, little, humble, and merciful to all those we serve; to treat others as Christ himself, and to live in a manner that reflects his very life,” she said.

Twelve Little Sisters from their Chicago, Brooklyn and Baltimore provinces attended the ceremony, as did trustees of Franciscan University and other guests.

Sr. Veit recounted the example of St. Francis of Assisi, who would find the courage to embrace a leper. She also cited the work of Little Sisters foundress Jeanne Jugan, whose charity began in earnest when she welcomed a blind, partially paralyzed elderly woman into her small apartment.

Past recipients of the Poverello Medal include Bl. Mother Teresa and Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., who passed away on Oct. 3.

The Little Sisters of the Poor currently run more than 200 homes for the elderly throughout the world. Founded in 1839, their mission is to provide physical, spiritual and emotional care for the low-income elderly and dying in communities throughout the U.S. and across the globe.

The Little Sisters of the Poor are presently plaintiffs in a prominent religious freedom legal case challenging federal mandates requiring that they and other religious employers offer employees insurance coverage for sterilization procedures and contraceptive drugs, including some that have abortion-causing effects.