St Teresa of Calcutta

The 4th of September 2016, will go down in history as the day when Mother Teresa was recognized as a saint of the Catholic Church. I used the word recognized because she was a saint long before, thanks to her charity and pro-life zeal.

Her Charity
Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in the year 1950. It is recorded that while travelling throughout India, she experienced a “call within a call”. In fact she once said: “I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.” Years later she founded the Missionaries of Charity whose mission was to help the “poorest of the poor”. Today there are 4500 sisters who are active in 133 countries. Like the mustard seed, the Missionaries of Charity have grown, from humble origins to international religious congregation.

Through tough times
Perhaps the most inspiring thing about saints is that they too, like us, have to endure harsh moments in order to bear witness to the message of the Gospel. Yesterday I wrote about Pope Gregory the Great who had to overcome difficult challenges during his pontificate from plagues to invasion from barbarians. Today we have Mother Teresa who wrote this about her challenging times she had to face during the founding of her order: “Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross. Today, I learned a good lesson. The poverty of the poor must be so hard for them. While looking for a home I walked and walked till my arms and legs ached. I thought how much they must ache in body and soul, looking for a home, food and health. Then, the comfort of Loreto [her former congregation] came to tempt me. ‘You have only to say the word and all that will be yours again,’ the Tempter kept on saying … Of free choice, my God, and out of love for you, I desire to remain and do whatever be your Holy will in my regard. I did not let a single tear come.”

Her Pro-Life zeal
During the 20th century and even during the 21st century the Chinese government imposed the one-child policy. This meant that families had to have one child if they tried to have more they would be forced to have abortions. Millions died in such a way. In this light we can see why Mother Teresa wrote fervently against abortion in the letter she wrote for the 4th World Conference on Women in Bejing in 1985: “That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others. No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of “freedom” can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God’s gift of motherhood destroys His most precious gift to women– the ability to love as a woman.”

Now that we have seen some of the reasons why Mother Teresa was, is and will continue to be a saintly force in the face of today’s challenges, it makes sense to turn to Jesus and like her pray: “Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.”

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