Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Celebrating Blessed Mother Teresa's Birth Anniversary

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
Founder of the Missionaries of Charity

(picture taken from catholicfire.blogspot.com)

26th August 2010 marks the 100th birth anniversary of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity. She was one of my heroes as i was growing up, a very inspiring woman who still remains close to my heart - and this blog post is dedicated to her in memoriam.

Of course, i was moved greatly by her selfless service to the poorest of the poor, and how she recognised the inherent dignity of those who live on the very edge of society's margins, but the very first thing which struck me about her were her words:-

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."

Those are words i have tried to live by. i especially like the way in which she explained that small things were the basis of her loving service i.e. "
In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love." in this regard, she emulated the great saint, St Therese of Lisieux (another one of my heroes, although in more recent times) who emphasised the need to do the smallest deeds with the greatest of love as a true offering to Christ.

Mother Teresa possessed the wonderful quality of persistence based on faith (something i talked about in my previous post below) and this is reflected in her following quotes:-

"God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try." and
"I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness."

Nevertheless, i really only saw her good works for a very long time, and never asked myself what the source of Mother Teresa's generosity and love- i failed to appreciate the depths of her prayer and longing for God:-

"Each time we look upon Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, He raises us up into deeper union with Himself, opens up the floodgates of His merciful love to the whole world, and brings us closer to the day of His final victory "where every knee will bend and proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord". "The reign of God is already in your midst." The coming of Jesus to us in the Eucharist is assurance of His promise of final victory: "BEHOLD, I COME TO MAKE ALL THINGS NEW."

"When the Sisters are exhausted, up to their eyes in work; when all seems to go awry, they spend an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This practice has never failed to bear fruit: they experience peace and strength."

At this point in my journey, Mother Teresa's words speak to me still, about the hunger for love which is so apparent in almost all people i meet and which i have felt for so long and the dedication to God my entire self to His service.

"There is a terrible hunger for love. We all experience that in our lives - the pain, the loneliness. We must have the courage to recognize it. The poor you may have right in your own family. Find them. Love them.

"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."

"Like Jesus we belong to the world living not for ourselves but for others. The joy of the Lord is our strength."

inspired by a modern example of faith in action (all through her dark night of the soul - a topic i will talk about in a later post), we can all learn a thing or two, and strive to bring God's light into the world around us. We can't all go to Calcutta, nor should we, but there may be slums around us which need a helping hand, and there is a burning, aching for love in our midst which we can recognise and reach out towards.

for the transcript of one of Mother Teresa's last few interviews before her death, please click here.
this is where she mentions that she is "a pencil in God's hand" - a metaphor to remember, certainly!

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