Merciful Lord, You have given us the example of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, a modern day icon of Mercy. Grant us the grace to follow her example, so that we, too, may see Your Face in the poor, the destitute, the dying, the marginalised, the forgotten and the unloved. And in following her example of love and humble service to those most in need, may we, too, respond to Your words from the Cross – ‘I thirst’.
From the official booklet for the Canonisation Mass of Saint Teresa of Calcutta –
“Teresa of Calcutta (Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu) was born in Skopje, on 26 August 1910, the fifth and last child of Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu. She was baptized the following day and received her First Communion at the age of five and a half. From that time forward, she was filled with love for souls.
In 1928, desirous of serving as a missionary, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. She went to India in 1929, professed first vows in May 1931 and perpetual vows in May 1937. During the twenty years she spent teaching in India, she became known for her charity, zeal, devotion and joy.
On 10 September 1946, she received from Jesus the call “to leave everything behind and serve Him in the poorest of poor.” In 1948, she obtained ecclesiastical permission to begin her apostolate in the slums of Calcutta. The Missionaries of Charity became a Religious Congregation of diocesan right on 7 October 1950, and were raised to a Congregation of pontifical right on 1 February 1965. The special charism of the Congregation is to satisfy the infinite thirst of Jesus for love and for souls by working for the salvation and the sanctification of the poorest of the poor.
To extend her mission of love, Mother Teresa started the branch of the Missionaries of Charity Brothers (1963), the Contemplative Sisters (1976), the Contemplative Brothers (1979) and the Missionaries of Charity Fathers (1984), as well as the Association of Co-Operators, suffering cooperators, and the Corpus Christi movement for Priests. At her death, on 5 September 1997, the Congregation numbered 3,842 Sisters, working in 594 houses in 120 nations.
Despite a painful experience of inner darkness, Mother Teresa travelled everywhere, concerned, like Mary in the account of the Visitation, to spread the love of Jesus throughout the world. She thus became an icon of God’s tender and merciful love for all, espe- cially for those who are unloved, unwanted and uncared for. From heaven she continues to ‘kindle a light for those living in darkness here on earth’.”
A Prayer of Mother Teresa –
Dear Jesus, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Thy spirit and love. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus. Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.