Teresa of Calcutta, winner of the Novel Prize for Peace
in 1979, born Agnes Boyaxhul in Yugoslavia in 1910 is
herself a bridge between the silent, serving women of
the past and the modern woman like Dorothy Day who have
made an impact on the world. Tiny Agnes joined the Loretta
sisters in Ireland at the age of 18 and within a year
was sent to do her novitiate year and to begin her teaching
at a high school in Calcutta. She taught there for 20
years, but on the way to a retreat in 1946 says she
heard a call to give up everything and serve among the
poorest of the poor in the slums of India. From the
American Medical Mission sisters she learned some basic
medicine, and soon was not just teaching the poor of
Calcutta, but treating them in their homes.
When an official took her
to an abandoned temple to the goddess Kali and offered her
the space, she started the hospital and home for the destitute
sick and dying known as Kalighat. Over the years she expanded
her work enormously by responding to every sort of deprivation
she encountered. Houses for her work have been established
in many cities around the world. She took in orphans, carried
dying old people in, established clinics and care centers
for lepers, among other things. Eventually her work led to
the founding of her own order, the Missionaries of Charity
which now has thousands of members ministering in over 50
In an era of declining vocations,
she explains the attraction of women to her work among the
poor as understandable, since “There are women in this
work who are still looking for a life of prayer, poverty and
sacrifice.” Despite her fame world over, Mother Teresa
continued in her humble work among the poorest of the poor
in Calcutta, washing her own laundry and doing her own dishes,
until she could do so no longer. Visitors were always struck
by her simplicity and frugality, and her definite hands-on
approach in her care for the dying.
Of Mother Teresa
"Keep the joy of
loving God in your heart and share this joy with all you meet
especially your family. Be holy – let us pray."
"I once picked up
a woman from a garbage dump and she was burning with fever;
she was in her last days and her only lament was: ‘My
son did this to me.’ I begged her: You must forgive
your son. In a moment of madness, when he was not himself,
he did a thing he regrets. Be a mother to him, forgive him.
It took me a long time to make her say: ‘I forgive my
son.’ Just before she died in my arms, she was able
to say that with a real forgiveness. She was not concerned
that she was dying. The breaking of the heart was that her
son did not want her. This is something you and I can understand."
"Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."
"Like Jesus we belong
to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The
joy of the Lord is our strength."
"There is only one
God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone
is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should
help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better
Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our
work should be our example to people. We have among us 475
souls - 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus,
Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all
come to our prayers."
"There are so many
religions and each one has its different ways of following
God. I follow Christ:
Jesus is my God,
Jesus is my Spouse,
Jesus is my Life,
Jesus is my only Love,
Jesus is my All in All;
Jesus is my Everything."
Make us worthy, Lord,
to serve those people throughout the world who live and die
in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day,
their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them
peace and joy. I heard the call to give up all and follow
Christ into the slums to serve Him among the oorest of the
poor. It was an order. I was to leave the convent and help
the poor while living among them.
When a poor person dies
of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care
of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted
to give that person what he or she needed.
You and I, we are the
Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today
is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus
made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren,
you do it to me. Give a glass of water, you give it to me.
Receive a little
child, you receive me.
Everybody today seems
to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments
and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little
time for their parents. Parents have very little time for
each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace
of the world.
If we really want to
love we must learn how to forgive.
To Reflections >>