This past October, Mother Teresa was beatified in Rome. All of us during our Catholic training are familiar with Saints from the past. We know about St. Jude, St. Anthony, St. Gerard. All of us ask for their particular help when we are in trouble or lost something. But what makes this ceremony so interesting is that Mother Teresa was our contemporary and a part of our lives. There is no woman in recent history that has captured the mind of the world as did Mother Teresa.
Whether she was speaking at the Harvard graduation or receiving the Noble Prize for Peace, the whole world looked to her with a sense of awe and gratitude for the wonderful work she was doing in Calcutta. When she was asked how do you take care of the problems in Calcutta when there are so many thousands of people in need and want she would simply answer, you take care of them one at a time.
She was Christ to the lepers. She was Christ to the homeless. She was Christ to the Daughters of Charity, the order that she founded. When you look at how she gave to the people she served you see a person giving with extraordinary love. You have to be inspired by her life.
The total acts of Christ, the total acts of compassion, the total acts of tenderness to those in want and need was her vocation. She is on the way to canonization, having gone through the steps of beatification. All of us, when that final ceremony takes place, will have had a great memory of a great woman who served God, who served the people of Calcutta and gave an awful lot of inspiration and examples of leadership to each one of us. All we have to do is imitate some of her work and our homes will be a better place and our world will be a better place.
Agnes Gonxha Bejaxhiu was born in Albania on August 27, 1910. She entered the order of the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto at the age of 18, and took the name of Teresa. She taught in the Order's school in Calcutta until 1946, when she experienced what she described as a call within a call to aid the desperately poor of India in a way that required she leave her Convent. She received permission from Rome to do this and began her work by bringing dying persons from the streets into a home where they could die in peace and dignity. She also established an Orphanage. Slowly other women joined her, and in 1950 she received official approval for a congregation of sisters, called the Missionaries of Charity, whose members are dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa was awarded the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.
Mother Teresa expired on Friday, September 5, 1997 in Calcutta.
To those who say they admire my courage,
I have to tell them that I would not have any
if I were not convinced that each time
I touch the body of a leper,
a body that reeks with a foul stench,
I touch Christ's body,
the same Christ I receive in the Eucharist.
- Mother Teresa
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