St Teresa, Icon of Charity and Mercy – 04 September
“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love.
Charity and love are the same – with charity you give love,
so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”
– Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Today (September 4, 2016), we thank God as Pope Francis canonises Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (now Kolkata). She was born on August 26, 1910 as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia. She was the third child of an Albanian grocer and his wife.
Each time we say the Creed, we profess our belief in the Communion of Saints. As St Teresa joins this Communion of Saints in heaven, let us ask her to intercede for us and strive to imitate her life – a life of prayer and action; a life of unshakable faith, devoted to the sick, the poor, the wounded and the marginalised. She died of heart failure at the age of 87 years old in 1997 in Calcutta.
It is noteworthy that tomorrow, September 5, the world will observe the International Day of Charity. Blessed Teresa is a true icon of charity and mercy. As the UN website states: “In recognition of the role of charity in alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering within and among nations, as well as of the efforts of charitable organizations and individuals, including the work of Mother Teresa, the General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution A/RES/67/105 designated the 5th of September, the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, as the International Day of Charity.
“On this International Day of Charity, the UN invites all Member States and all international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including NGOs and individuals, to commemorate the Day in an appropriate manner, by encouraging charity, including through education and public awareness-raising activities…Charity contributes to the promotion of dialogue, solidarity and mutual understanding among people.”
During this holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis urges us to see the Church as a “field hospital”. We will respond faithfully to his call if we imitate the life of Blessed Teresa. She was a true servant of the Lord who allowed the Holy Spirit to guide her every step. In 1928, when she was 18 years old, she joined the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. A few months later she went to India to teach in one of their schools, St Mary’s School for girls.
In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity who dedicated themselves to serving the poorest of the poor. “At the time of her death, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters and hundreds of thousands of volunteers working in hundreds of centres in 123 countries around the world. These included homes for orphaned children, homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leper colonies, and hospices for the terminally ill” (www.nobelprize.org).
It was Martin Luther King Jr who said: “Every man/woman must decide whether he/she will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” Although she received numerous awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for bringing help to suffering humanity, Blessed Teresa was the epitome of selfless service – using her God-given gifts without any thought of reward. In her humility she said that she received the prize “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”
In her Nobel Lecture, Blessed Teresa said “I think that we in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home. And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world.”
Ken Hackett, US Ambassador to the Holy See, who worked closely with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity in his previous positions at the US bishops’ Catholic Relief Services, rightly says that “Mother Teresa demonstrated that living a life committed to mercy took ‘selflessness and courage’…. Her courage also was demonstrated in her ability to ‘speak truth to power’…. She was straight out against abortion. From conception to death – she was the whole thing and didn’t pull any punches.” Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, Italy said “What Mother Teresa lived, Pope Francis teaches constantly: compassion in the face of pain and never accepting indifference in the face of suffering. For the archbishop, Mother Teresa modelled ‘a church close to the poor, a church that is mother to the poor and that lives the joy of serving the poor’”(Catholic News Service).
St Teresa, watch over us and pray for us.
(By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ (http://rcsocialjusticett.org) & Director, CREDI – taken from Catholic News of T&T)