Celebrating the Life of
St. Teresa of Calcutta
On September 4, 2016, the Catholic Church paid homage to an extraordinary woman whose life exemplified Christ’s call to compassion and service to others when Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) was canonized. She joins another modern apostle of mercy — St. John Paul the Great — to be canonized in recent years.
It is quite rare for the Church to declare sainthood in such a short period after one’s death, but as many of us know, these two saints were rare themselves, both in their faith and their ability to discern the signs of the times. In his landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI reminded us that the Church is a “sign of contradiction” to a society that seeks answers in technological, medical and other “advancements,” some of which oppose natural and moral law.
In an age when these advancements grew at unprecedented rates, both St. John Paul the Great and St. Teresa of Calcutta were clear voices for those marginalized as a result of these advancements.
Dr. Hilgers (right) meets St. Teresa of Calcutta in 1978.
In 1978, I had the pleasure of meeting Mother Teresa. Years later, in 1993, Mother Teresa accepted our invitation to speak at the Institute’s 25th anniversary celebration of the publication of Humanae Vitae. While health reasons prevented Mother Teresa from attending the celebration, she addressed the crowd by video (the entirety of which you can view here).
As was the case when Pope John Paul II was canonized, the Institute feels blessed knowing that yet again another of its strong supporters is being declared a saint. As I have shared so many times before, in our work, we meet great opposition from mainstream medicine and a culture of death that seeks to expand abortion, contraception, sterilization and in-vitro fertilization without limits. The upcoming canonization provides both encouragement and further validation for our work. Like St. Teresa of Calcutta, the Pope Paul VI Institute seeks to serve as a sign of contradiction.
To be clear, at the Institute we don’t operate to simply oppose mainstream medicine. Instead, we seek to build a culture of life, where women and families find healing within God’s design for human reproduction and sexuality.
St. Teresa of Calcutta once said “We must remember that life begins at home and we must also remember that the future of humanity passes through the family.”
As the Pope Paul VI Institute continues to build a culture of life in women’s reproductive health care, we thank you, our supporters, for standing as a sign of contradiction with us.
May God be with you in a very special way,
Thomas W. Hilgers, MD
Director of the Pope Paul VI Institute
Developer of NaProTechnology
Your grace, Archbishop Dan Sheehan, the brothers and sisters in Jesus, at the invitation of the Pope Paul VI Institute, you have gathered in thousands in Omaha Nebraska in the International conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of the papal encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. I am thankful to Dr. Thomas Hilgers for inviting me to share your joy and your hope. I cannot be with you physically, but through television, and through prayer, I am very much here with you to greet you, to thank you, to tell you of Jesus’ love for you. He, better than I, is with you.
After 25 years, of Humanae Vitae, I hope we have grown stronger in our conviction that to listen to the church is to listen to Jesus Himself. Humanae Vitae clearly expresses the mind and will of God about marriage. It reminds us of the beauty of married love in God’s plan as an expression of total self-giving and helps us to accept the child as the fruit of that love. The child is a birth gift of God to the family. Contraception can not be an expression of total self-giving because in contraception, something is done to one’s self to destroy the bar to conceive a child. Contraception is “yes” to selfishness and “no” to true love because contraception is something done to one’s self, turns the attention to one’s self. The same selfishness that wants to prevent the child by contraception will grow until it wants to kill the child already conceived. We must fight selfishness with the true generous and self-sacrificing love. Every child at his very conception is created for greater things: to love and to be loved. That is why we must protect life. To destroy the life of the child is to destroy the presence of God in the world. The greatest destroyer of peace in the world today is abortion.
But to love like this in our families, we need much prayer. It is very important to bring prayer back into our families. That daily rosary, that daily adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, that consecration of the family to the sacred heart, because the family that prays together will stay together. And if you stay together, you will love each other as God loves each one of you. For there is love, there is peace, there is unity, there is joy. Therefore, let us pray for the child, let us pray for the family, let us pray for the church. Keep the joy of love in God in your hearts, and share this joy with all your need, especially your family.
My prayer for you is that you grow in that tender love for each other by praying together by loving each other by helping each other to grow in Holiness. Holiness is not the luxury of the few. It is the simple beauty for you and for me that Jesus has said “Be ye holy, like the father in heaven is holy.” God bless you.