Maybe it was a miracle of Mother Teresa, or maybe it was what some call a "God-incidence".
I think the year was 1992, and Mother Teresa may have been in New York City to receive the Knights of Columbus’ highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award. I was not working for the K of C at the time; in fact, I was a seminarian with the Archdiocese of New York. So when some friends told me Mother Teresa was in the South Bronx, I went with them by subway to see her.
There was a long line of pilgrims streaming out of the Catholic school gym that morning, but everyone was patient and high-spirited. A buzz went through crowd, not to see a celebrity but to meet a holy woman who by her very presence spoke of God. I got on the line and began to pray the rosary quietly to myself, as many others were doing. Eventually, I got to the stage where Mother Teresa was greeting people, but she was surrounded by so many sisters and well-wishers that I could not see her small figure in the crowd.
Suddenly, I felt a wrinkled yet strong hand grab my hand. I looked down and saw Mother, her eyes so alive as they stared at me as though I was the only one there amid the crush of humanity. "God bless you," she said in her simple voice, as she pressed a Miraculous Medal into my palm. I walked ahead, off the stage.
My friends also got Miraculous Medals from her. We talked about the experience on the subway ride back to Manhattan. As the car filled up, I gave my seat to a young Hispanic mother and her boy. Filled with joy, I held out the Miraculous Medal and asked the mother if she ever heard of Mother Teresa. She nodded, of course. The boy looked at the medal and reached out to hold my hand closer. Without thinking, I said, "Would you like it?" He nodded yes. His mother pulled a cord from his neck which already held other religious medals. I helped her place the Miraculous Medal on the cord next to the others. My friends looked at me in disbelief. How could I give away a medal touched by a living saint? I was thinking the same thing, but defended my action while still feeling the emotional sting of parting with something precious: "We cannot cling to holy things but must share the graces."
A few days later, I was coming out of the St. Paul’s bookstore in midtown, when someone called my name. An older woman who I knew from church came shuffling toward me, saying that she had visited Mother Teresa in the Bronx over the weekend. "For some reason, she gave me two Miraculous Medals, and I’ve been thinking for days now who I should give the second medal to. When I saw you, I knew that you were the one."
She handed me the medal from Mother Teresa, and I told her the story of how I had given my medal to a boy on the subway. We both held back tears, recognizing the hand of God, and how privileged we were to have his holy ones among us, such as Mother Teresa.