St. Teresa of Calcutta

I wanted to write about one of my favorite saints and honor her as our Saint of the Month for September. My husband and I have taken her on as the “Patron Saint” of our marriage because we both love her and she was canonized on our wedding anniversary, September 4th, 2016. Here are a few highlights and things not as known about her.

Mother Teresa was born as Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on August 26th 1910 in Skopje, which now is in Northern Macedonia. I find her birth name interesting since “Anjeze” means “a little flower” in Albanian and she wanted to be named after St. Therese of Lisieux, the “little flower” herself, at her first vow to the religious life in 1931. Since Therese was already taken by another nun she chose the Spanish spelling of Teresa instead. It is a most fitting name for a little flower of God and she lived her life by this perspective.

Mother Teresa arrived in India in 1929, at the age of 19 and spend the rest of her life there. She once said,

By blood I am Albanian. by citizenship I am Indian. By faith I am a Catholic nun. As too my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong to Jesus.”

Did you know that Mother Teresa took her vow to religious life in the order of the Sisters of Loreto?

In an article written by Time Magazine they wrote, “She spent 17 years as a teacher and then principal of a Calcutta high school, St. Mary’s, for privileged Bengali girls. It was on Sept. 10, 1946, during a train ride to a religious retreat, that Teresa received a “call within a call”. She said God directed her to the slums. “The message was quite clear,” she told colleagues. “I was to leave the convent and help the poor whilst living among them. It was an order.”

Teresa received permission from Rome to strike out on her own. Attracting a dozen disciples, she started what she called her “little society.” The nuns crept along the harsh streets of Calcutta in search of mankind’s most miserable; the sisters had to beg for their own support, even their daily meals. “There were times during the first three or four months,” says Teresa’s biographer, Navin Chawla, “when she’d be humiliated, and tears would be streaming down her cheeks. [She] told herself, ‘I’ll teach myself to beg, no matter how much abuse and humiliation I have to endure.’”

She soon asked the Vatican if she and her followers could take a vow supplementary to those of poverty, chastity and obedience: “to devote themselves out of abnegation to the care of the poor and needy who, crushed by want and destitution, live in conditions unworthy of human dignity.” It took Rome two years to say yes, and in 1950 the Vatican formally established the Missionaries of Charity“.

She received 120+ honors and awards in her lifetime, Including a Noble Peace prize. Instead of accepting the banquet that normally follows the award ceremony, Mother Teresa refused and asked for the $192,000 budget to be donated to benefit the poor of India.

Mother Teresa was the first saint to be famous globally during her lifetime with the help of modern media. She spoke 5 languages; Albanian, English, Bengali, Hindi and Serbian.

Teresa of Calcutta died on September 5th, 1997, which would become her feast day in 2016. At her canonization, 1,500 homeless people were transported and given seats of honor at the ceremony as a symbol of her life long work. She has inspired many and leads us with a great example;

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

This is the example I try to live by. I am not a great theologian, or a wonderful evangelist, but I can do small things with great love and still make a great impact. I encourage you to follow St. Teresa of Calcutta’s example as well. It is the easiest way and most common way to become a saint.

Until next time……….. Be happily you and God bless.