Obviously, her health had been a major concern to people according to news reports from around the world. She was gaining strength, but admitted that she was quite tired and weary...not in her work, but physically.
Time nor space allows me to share all the things that we talked about. Her humble spirit and compassion for those around her filled our time together. It was evident from the very beginning that she did not want to spend time talking about herself or her accomplishments.
As she said, "My strength comes from prayer, from our work, from the sacrifices we make. I will continue to reach out to those who are sick, lonely, diseased, dying, homeless, and hungry til it is time for me to go see my Christ. God knows the time."
That time was September 5, 1997
There were several things that I wanted to ask her that I felt were important -- especially as it related to the things we were facing in America at that time.
The first thing I ask her was in relation to all the children that she ministries to in India and other parts of the world. I specifically referred to the abortion issue that we face in America. Though I had read various accounts of her views regarding this subject -- I asked her what were her feelings toward America as it relates to the killing of innocent babies.
She said she addressed this issue when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1979.
"I believe that the greatest destroyer of peace is not war -- but abortion. Abortion is a 'direct war' -- murder committed by the mother herself. Many people are very concerned with the children of India -- with the children of Africa where quite a number die -- maybe from malnutrition, of hunger, and so on...but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. If a mother can kill her own child -- what is left?"
"In India, hardly a day goes by that the Missionaries of Charity do not receive a few children at one or more of the centers. Often it is the police who bring the children. On other days - it is unwed mothers themselves. Once in a while, a hospital or clinic telephones us requesting us to collect a baby. There are times that we find them abandoned in the streets. Occasionally - a baby is left on our doorstep. Though we are frightened of nuclear war - frightened of this disease called AIDS - we are not frightened to kill an innocent child. Abortion has become the greatest destroyer of peace."
When asked to describe America and the abortion issue -- she said, "I feel that the poorest country is the one who has to kill the unborn child. They are afraid to feed one more child, so as to enjoy a few extra pleasures."
We visited about many things during our time together. In consideration of her special allowance to me -- I asked if she could give me just a few words to share with those in America.
She said, "Your country has been greatly blessed by God. The Missionaries of Charity deal with those who are starving; those who are homeless; those who are diseased...especially those with leprosy; and those who are dying. I would say to those in America -- 'We need to bring back prayer and love. It must begin with our homes, with our neighbors, in our towns, in our countries. In the West (referring to America) - there is loneliness which I call the leprosy of the West. In many ways -- it is worse than our poor in Calcutta. In Calcutta - the poor - they share. When you share - you will love. When you love - you will pray to the God who has given you so much."
As I thanked her for taking the time before entering her period of silence and prayer -- we prayed. I have never been in such a prayer meeting. Her finals words to me were: "Keep the joy of loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet."