St. Teresa of Calcutta

September 6, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Mother Teresa was canonized a Saint!  I was always enamored by Mother Teresa, even as a child.  I’m not sure where my affection for her came from;perhaps, it was the fact that my mother and grandmother spoke about her often growing up and the fact that my religion teachers always held her up as a modern day saint.

It was most likely the combination of both of those along with being able to witness her service with my own eyes thanks to television that made me appreciate her so much.  Her joy and her ability to treat all with dignity where like magnetic forces drawing me to her, and in turn she pointed me constantly to Jesus, the source of her joy.  At the beginning of senior year, we each picked a quote for the year.  The one I selected was one of Mother Teresa’s, “Let us always greet each other with a smile for a smile is the beginning of love.”  

As a teenager, I thought I would get to meet her one day in person, and I was saddened to hear of her death during senior year religion class on September 5, 1997.   Our principal came over the loudspeaker to invite us into a moment of silence to pause, to remember, and to pray for her.  I sat with tears in my eyes at the loss of this beautiful woman, but my heart, too, was full of gratitude at the gift of her example in my life time.

Drawing on her strength today:

So often the very thing I am writing about finds its way into my daily life or maybe it is my daily life that is influencing the words that came out of me.  These past months other colleagues and myself have written about mercy and the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.  The very words we wrote carried me these past weeks in my hometown as there have been ample opportunity to put these words of ours into practice.

Even today, as I write about Mother Teresa’s canonization, I am aware of how much strength I have drawn from her witness and her words as the amount of suffering around me is overwhelming.  At times, it makes me feel paralyzed to act making me feel like nothing I do will actually help or when I am acting it feels like not enough, because there is always another person I meet with a story of loss of his/her home.  Mother Teresa’s words have echoed within me time and time again, “Never worry about the numbers.  Help one person at a time, and start with the person nearest you.”

A Saint Who Can Pray for Us and Show Us How to Show Mercy:

I am sure many of you may feel the same way at times–overwhelmed by what others around you are facing or dealing with and not knowing how to act. Maybe we do not know how to show mercy in that moment or to the person in front of us.  Maybe we are afraid of being drawn close to another’s suffering. Maybe our own suffering feels so heavy that its hard to offer mercy to the person in front of us.  When we feel like this, we can draw strength from our newest Saint in the Catholic church, our newest Saint of Mercy– St. Teresa of Calcutta.  We can ask her to pray for us to open our hearts and eyes to see and feel the suffering of others and to show us how to offer mercy in the moment.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!  May our hearts be opened during this Year of Mercy to both receive God’s mercy and in turn show it to others!

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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