The whole of her life and her work testifies to the joy of loving entirely without concession and the value of the most trivial acts carried with faith and love. In the middle of a XX° century, she was the uncompromising witness of the traditional religious faith and was able to capture with kindness the attention of a world in question. What is love?
Agnès Gonxha was born on 27 August 1910 in Skopje in the Ottoman Empire, present-day Macedonia. Orphan of a father at the age of eight, she grows in a decent poverty.
Driven by the desire to become a missionary, like Saint Teresa of Lisieux to whom she has great admiration, she pronounces her religious vows at the age of 21 in Calcutta. Her great mission begins.
For Twenty-years, she teaches history and geography to young girls of the high society in the college of Sainte-Marie. Filled with deep joy, appreciated by her students who consider her as their confidante, she lives a charitable life. But on September 10, 1946, her life is rocking. On the train that leads her to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, Sister Teresa receives "the call within the call". The thirst to love and be loved by the poorest takes possession of her heart.
The months to come are marked by suffering but after two years of discernment, she receives permission to leave Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. Despite the reticence of the Church, she ends up founded the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity whose charisma will be "quench the thirst of Jesus, thirst for love for souls, working in salvation and sanctification of the poorest among the poor."
She gives up the black veil and settle in the slum of Taltla. Her first encounter: an old woman thrown by her son in a bin, covered in ants.
In the garbage and trash that lies in the clusters of sheet, the little Sister dressed in white sari, lined with blue, hugged, feeds and cures the stunded ragpickers. Tirelessly, Mother Teresa smiles at a child, leans on a patient, welcomes a dying old man in his arms. "The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.” In these unhealthy maze, "poor and low castes" die in general indifference. Every night, moan of agony rise from the mud hut. So, this night of June, she picks up a woman who is dying on the sidewalk flooded by the monsoon, her tiptoes eaten by the rats.
With Strength and courage, she opens a first home, the place of death “the house of pure heart." "They lived like beasts. At least they die like human beings." Then she opens a house for street children and orphans and has a small town built for the leper.
Already, the name of the little Sister of the poor goes around the world. At the end of the 1960’s, Mother Teresa's passage to British Television and the production of a documentary about her life marks the beginnings of her international celebrity. Her faith and strength of conviction manage to open all doors and hearts. The great of this world will award her many prizes, including the Nobel Peace prize in 1979, which she accept "in the name of the poor". During her Nobel prize reception speech, she jellyfish her audience by reading the prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, an anthem to love:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.”
Unwavering, Saint Teresa of Calcutta continued her mission to the end, without failing, thanks to prayer and worked to the poorest, of those who are no longer wanted: lepers, mentally ill, orphans... “There is something beautiful in seeing the poor accept their lot, to suffer it like Christ’s passion. The world gains much from their suffering.”
“The Holy of darkness.”
But in her apostolate, Mother Teresa lived intensely all her life on the night of faith, an inner drought. This painful night begins right after "the call within the call" when God urge her to leave everything. She feels rejected, isolated and neglected, like the ones she has the charge of.
Far from discouraging her, her inner pain pushes her to unite always more in depth to the Lord. In the image of Jesus screaming, "I thirst" on the cross, "I am thirsty for the love of every man", she lives for more than fifty years the terrible thirst of Christ's love for us. Her inner desolation allows her to understand and share the desolation of the poorest. She always pray even when she is exhausted. The times of prayer, meditation and mass are the most important moments of her day.
On September 5, 1997, the Little Sister of the Poor died in Calcutta, surrounded by those to whom she dedicated her life. Nearly 5500 sisters, spread in more than 400 centers on the 5 Continents, serve and love Christ through the service to the rejected, the beloved, the neglected.
In the image of Mother Teresa, let's pray to the Lord that he helps volunteers, especially those who work with the ragpickers in Cairo to:
- remain joyful in the face of the storms of life.
- take the immutable resolution to prefer the other and its good, to themselves.
- keep their feet on earth, head on the shoulders and the whole soul turned to God.
"Prayer expands the heart. Without the strength of prayer, our life would be unbearable."
On this anniversary day of her death, let's learn to admire the beauty of life, realize our dreams, take up the challenges, overcome sadness, sing the anthem of life, accept fights and deserve happiness. "Life is life" prayer of mother Teresa.