“There is only one God and he is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I have always said that we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic.”(Mother Teresa) Mother Teresa was a unique soul that help and impacted many unfortunate people in this world by holding the word of god near and dear in her heart. She devoted her life to the dying, the cripple, the mentally ill, the unwanted, and fully enjoyed every minute of it. She was fulfilling her life mission to work among the poorest of poor.
Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, or now know as Yugoslavia, on August 27, 1910. She was given the name Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She was one of five children born to Nukola and Dronda Bojaxhui, yet only three survived. Her brother described their family’s first years as being well of not he peasants life reported inaccurately by some. In fact the family lived in one of the two houses that they owned. In her childhood she attended Roman Catholic school. About the age of 12 she new that her lives calling was to help the poor. When she was 18 she joined the Sister of Laredo, and Irish community of nuns with a mission located in Calcutta. After only a few months of training in Dublin she was sent to India where she took her initial vows in 1928 as a nun. She then took upon the name Teresa from Saint Teresa of Lisieux, the Patron Saint of foreign missionaries, and also and also honoring Teresa of Avila. Upon taking her vows she was sent to St. Mary’s a high school for girls in the district of Calcutta.
Here she started her career teaching history and geography which she throughly enjoyed for the next 15 years. It was in this somewhat protected environment for the daughters of the wealthy that her new vocation developed and grew. Mother Teresa received her second calling in 1946 while on a train to Darjeeling for a 8 day of spiritual exercises. She knew at this very moment that she was “to serve amongst the poorest of poor.”
“Christ is hidden under the suffering appearance of anyone who is hungry, naked, homeless, or dying.”(Mother Teresa) during the next two years she pursued every avenue to follow ans never doubted the direction that God was leading her into. In 1948 she was granted permission to leave her post a the convent and begin ministry among the sick and needy. This permission was not easily granted she had to receive special permission from the Archbishop of Calcutta to serve the poor openly and on the streets. It was at this time that she shed the normal habit and wore the ordinary dress of an Indian woman, a plain white sari and sandals. This was also the year that she became a Indian citizen.
“The poor do not our sympathy and our pity. The poor need our love and compassion.” (Mother Teresa) she first went to Patna for a few short months to prepare for her future work by taking a nursing course. She also at this time found a small hovel to rent and began her new mission in life. She started by teaching the children in the slums. Even though she had none of the proper equipment to run a proper school she made creative ways to let this system work. She tried her best to make the children of the poor literate and also to teach them basic hygiene. This school is still in work today it has currently more than 250 pupils. As the children became to know and love her, she started to visit the poor and ill in their families and all others in the surrounding shacks. She also was inquiring about all their basic necessities that were not being met.
Within a year she found much needed help. Young woman were using her as an example to share with the poor some much needed compassion. Most of these young woman became the core of her Missionaries of Charity. Some of the woman offered food, clothing, use of buildings, medical supplies and also gifts of money. As the following grew the more and more services that Teresa and her followers could provide the huge number of suffering people. From the birth of Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta new vocations starting springing up in all parts of the world. Some of the mission include homes for the dying, refuges for the care and teaching or orphans and abandon children, treatment center and hospitals for those suffering from leprosy and many more but this list is endless.
“I don’t know what God is doing. He knows. We do not understand, but of one thing I am sure, He doesn’t make mistakes.” (Mother Teresa) In 1952 Mother Teresa opened the Nirmal Friday or Pure of Heart Home for Dying Destitutes in Calcutta. It was in this home that she and fellow sisters took in homeless Indians during the days before their deaths. Here Mother Teresa and other sisters cleaned the maggots from the rotting faces of the leprosy victims, washed emaciated bodies of the severely malnourished, and held the hands of the dying. All this so the unfortunate could die in peace and with some dignity. This was one of her philosophies on life: “People are hungry for God. Quite often we look but do not see. We are all passing through this world. We need to open our eyes and truly see..”
“Love does not measure; it just gives.” (Mother Teresa). In 1962 she received the Padma Shri award for distinguished, The Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. She gratefully accepted all the awards on the behalf of the poor and used all proceeds to help her centers for the poor.
It was not until 1980 that she actually was forced to scale back her activities because of her declining health. And in 1987 she officially stepped down as the head of the order and her predisuccessor Sister Nirmala was sworn in as the new leader. Mother Teresa still worked in her projects just on a smaller level until her dying day.
“All of us must be saints in this world. Holiness is a duty for you and me. So let us be saints and so give glory to the Father.” (Mother Teresa). On September 5, 1997 Mother Teresa ate her last meal and afterward returned to her room for silent prayer. And very peacefully she took her last breath. Her funeral service was help in September 13, 1997. This was 51 years after receiving her first vows from God.
In her own eyes she was “God’s pencil- a tiny bit of pencil with which he writes what he likes.” At her death she had an enormous following. Missionaries of Charity had 4,000 nuns and ran 517 orphanages, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and clinics around the world. The groups
headquarters are only located 5 minutes where Mother Teresa life started.
“We can do no great things in life, only small things with love.” (Mother Teresa). On October 25, 2003 Pope John Paul II will beatify Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The beatification of the Macedonia born nun will take place in Rome, three days after the Pope celebrates his 25 year of papacy. The process leading to the beatification has been the shortest in modern history. In early 199, John Paul II waived the normal 5 year waiting period and allowed the immediate opening of her canonization cause.
In 2002, the Holy Father recognized the healing of a Indian woman as the miracle needed to beatify Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The healing that occurred was on the first anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death. It involved a non Christian woman that had a huge abdominal tumor and woke up to find the tumor gone. Members of the Missionaries of Charity prayed for their founder intervention to help the sick woman. And it seems that her spirit once again helped a poor soul regain her dignity and love of life back. Even from the grave Mother Teresa is helping the less fortunate.
In 2001, on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, officials closed the diocesan inquiry into Mother Teresa’s sanctity. The year-long process of gathering testimony from those who knew of her and her work is the first major step to Sainthood. The previous year in Calcutta marking Mother Teresa’s birth anniversary, Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim admirers joined for a common prayer in speeding up her canonization process.
Her follower have great faith that the miracles needed to make Mother Teresa a saint will be provided. These miracles are required to prove her sainthood. I am not a religious person but I also believe that she will become a saint sue to her great love of helping others. She has not only brought people closer together and helped too many people to count. She found her love of God the way to help others. She is one in a million and deserves respect from all people. She has brought people from many religious backgrounds together and taught them: With love comes great responsibility, and this had actions.
She was a person that let nothing stand in her way. Thus proving to everyone to make a difference. She is a great philosopher of the world. Touching many people in her life time and bringing dignity to the poor. “God made the world wealthy enough to feed and clothe everyone.” (Mother Teresa). She brought her love of God to the world and presented it to everyone never doubting her faith and mission in life. I think that everyone could learn from her example, and make a difference in this world. There are a lot of great people in this world and I think she proves that regardless of religious affiliation we can all join together for a common cause. To help anyone in need.
“There is no greater sickness in the world today than the lack of love.” (Mother Teresa)
Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Bibliogrophy
By Kathy Spink, Printed in Sepember of 1998
Something Beautiful for God
By Malcolm Muggeridge, Printed in November of 1996
Mother Teresa the Path of Love Homepage