How fitting that she was tiny of stature, this woman who believed in doing “small things with great love”; she herself was a small thing who embodied so great a love: the love of God.
Blessed Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu to Albanian parents in 1910. She had an interest in missionaries from an early age, partly influenced by membership in a parish youth group, Sodality. When she was eighteen she joined an Irish order, the Sisters of Loreto, and took the name Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux, patroness of the missions. She became a teacher, but while on a train ride to Darjeeling, India she received her “call within the call” to leave everything behind and live with the poor to serve them.
After receiving permission to leave the Sisters and follow this call, she founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, where she started a school for indigent children and literally began picking people up off of the streets to care for them. So began a ministry that expanded around the world and to this day serves the poorest of the poor with quiet dignity and great love. The Missionaries of Charity will not solicit donations; they exist solely on the providence of God. The Sisters live the simplest of lives, owning only two garments, a pair of sandals and some basic utensils. Their plain white sari lined with blue has come to represent an image of God’s mercy and loving compassion.
Mother Teresa’s life and strength of character became an inspiration to millions of people. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and went home to God on September 5, 1997. Some writings found after her death have shown her to be faithful in spite of her strongest doubts and fears. She is truly asaint of our times, who proved that holiness can be obtained by anyone who really desires it.
- “To God there is nothing small. The moment we have given it to God, it becomes infinite.” What a beautiful thought! That all of our actions can be eternal in God’s eyes. Doesn’t that make us want to try to make each moment sacred, whether it’s cleaning our house, doing office work, or playing with our children? Let us try to be conscious of giving all our moments to God, and allowing Him to make them holy.
- “Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.” Often we get discouraged because of our own faults and only see what we can’t seem to accomplish. Mother Teresa never depended upon herself, but only upon the strength and love of God. God knows all of our capabilities, and He will use them according to His purpose if we surrender ourselves to Him. How do we do this? By following, day by day, what we believe to be His will.
- “Love to pray — feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.” Here Blessed Mother Teresa gives us very practical advice on prayer: that we shouldn’t worry about praying well, but just pray! Prayer is one gift that feeds upon itself: the more we pray, the better our praying becomes. Just using simple words and opening our hearts to God completely allows Him to act in our livesand inspires us to pray and trust Him more.
- Mother Teresa spoke and worked tirelessly to end abortion. She said: “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” She understood that our culture today is often marked by selfishness, and so many people abort a child simply because it would be inconvenient and a sacrifice to raise them. She told people, “Give the child to me.” Recognizing that each person is created in the image of God, as she did, will help us to understand the sacredness of each life. Let us all pray and take peaceful action for an end to abortion.
- “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” So much of our lives today is consumed by noise! Radios blare in our cars; televisions play constantly in our homes; headsets adorn pedestrians. How can we expect God to break through? The next time you have a free moment and find yourself reaching for some audible entertainment, why not stop and seek some quiet time? “Be still and know that I am God” the psalmist tells us. We all need time for stillness in our lives. Make it a point each day to reconnect to God through silence.
Hunt, Dorothy S.: “Love, a Fruit Always in Season”, Ignatius Press, 1987.