There is a story that I heard a couple of days ago that I find just so thrillingly wonderful I had to share. This story about Mother Teresa and the Communist Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua comes from this phenomenal clip from Kris McGregor of DiscerningHearts.com. Kris is a dear friend and is doing amazing work for the Church through her audio treasury.
The story in the clip is told by Msgr. John Esseff, one of the holiest men alive, Mother’s confessor, and the man who gave Mother Teresa her last retreat before she died. Kris was able to get the good Msgr. to share his reflections on Mother, so the story I’m about to tell is just one of several he shares. The good Msgr. paints a picture so colorful and personal that it can give you chills at times. You might want to consider keeping a box of tissues close by, too. Note also that you can hear Msgr. speaking about the devotion to the Sacred Heart as well as his reflection on meeting Padre Pio at his website.
Alright, so here’s the story. Mother Teresa had gone to Nicaragua with some of her sisters in order to help those suffering from an earthquake in the capital, Managua. At the time, Nicaragua was run by the Sandinista Communist regime, headed by Daniel Ortega. According to Msgr. Esseff, Communists in general and Ortega and Castro in particular just loved Mother and would take every opportunity to be seen with her and have events with her.
At one rally, Ortega, who was supposed to introduce Mother Teresa to the expectant crowd, went on a long tirade about President Reagan and what a horrible person he was. He went on and on about communism and the government, etc. When he had finished, he invited Mother up to the microphone. There she was, that diminutive Albanian so full of life and love and she said, “President Reagan really needs prayers, doesn’t he.”
“Yes, he really does, Mother,” was the response from Ortega who thought then that he had scored big.
But then Mother said to him, “And so do you. I was talking to your wife, and you are a Catholic.”
Nervous now, Ortega affirmed that he was Catholic. You know those hairs that stand up at the back of your neck when you know you’re in trouble, that sinking feeling in the gut? I like to think that Ortega was experiencing that just then.
“You are a Catholic, but you don’t have your children baptized. I want to be their godmother. Your wife told me you haven’t had them baptized. Let’s go baptize them right now, because if you can’t run your family, you can’t run the country.”
Friends, this is called getting shot in the face with the bazooka of truth. I like to imagine what Ortega looked like as the blood rushed to his face and head. But who could be mad at little Mother?
Listen to the rest of this amazing reflection on Mother from Msgr Esseff.
One last thing, Ortega’s wife Rosario Murillo is a staunchly pro-life woman who saw to widespread bans on abortion in Nicaragua. About radical feminism she once wrote:
Their values represent the Old Society, exclusive, unjust, and impoverishing… where men and women…prefer to raise pets instead of children, and depopulate and disharmonize the Earth.
This is junk feminism, and furthermore, as I already said, it is in the hands of women who neither live as women, nor know the feminine soul, individual or collective. They ignore our daily battles; they are not the flesh and bone of a woman. They have no family ties or stable affections; they disdain those blessed ties of unconditional affection, indispensible for healthy human development.
They don’t admit that women opt for routes that are constructive for women, with an inclusive conscience, a maternal instinct, and a sense of family, of a couple, and of human brotherhood. They do not accept that men and women believe in a different future, and that we work together, creating the indispensable difference between today and tomorrow.
So maybe Señora Murillo knew exactly what she was doing when she told Mother Teresa about the kids, a possibility that makes this story even better. Behind every great man is a woman…and a surprised mother-in-law.