(Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu; Skopje, present-day Macedonia, 1910 – Calcutta, 1997) A nationalized Indian Albanian nun who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. When Mother Teresa of Calcutta died in 1997, the Missionaries of Charity congregation already had more than five hundred centers in a hundred countries. But perhaps the order she founded, whose goal is to help «the poorest of the poor,» is the least of her legacy; the greatest was to establish itself as a recent inspiring example, in palpable and living proof of how generosity, self-sacrifice and dedication to others also make sense in modern times.
Born into an Albanian Catholic family, her mother’s deep religiosity awakened Agnes’s vocation as a missionary at the age of twelve. While still a child, she entered the Marian Congregation of the Daughters of Mary, where she began her activity of assisting the needy. Moved by the chronicles of a Christian missionary in Bengal, at the age of eighteen she left her hometown forever and traveled to Dublin to profess at the Congregation of Our Lady of Loreto. Since she wanted to be a missionary in India, she embarked for Bengal, where she studied teaching and chose the name of Teresa to profess.
As soon as the vows were made, he went to Calcutta, the city with which he would identify his life and his vocation of dedication to those most in need. For nearly twenty years she was a teacher at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta. However, the deep impression caused by the misery that she observed in the streets of her city moved her to ask Pius XII for her permission to leave the order and give herself completely to the cause of the needy. Energetic and determined in her purposes, Saint Teresa of Calcutta pronounced at that time what would be the fundamental principle of her message and her action: «I want to bring the love of God to the poorest poor; I want to show them that God loves the world and that loves them.»
In 1947, as the culmination of that long struggle led by Gandhi , India achieved independence. A year later, Teresa of Calcutta obtained authorization from Rome to dedicate herself to the apostolate in favor of the poor. While studying nursing with the Medical Missionary Sisters of Patna, Teresa of Calcutta opened her first children’s shelter. In 1950, the year in which she also adopted Indian nationality, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, whose full recognition would encounter numerous obstacles before Paul VI made it effective in 1965.
While her congregation, whose members had to add to the traditional vows of dedicating themselves totally to the needy, opened centers in various cities around the world, she cared for thousands of disinherited and dying regardless of whether they professed Christianity or another religion: «To For us, the faith professed by the people we assist is not the least important. Our criterion for help is not belief, but need. We never allow someone to leave us without feeling better and happier, because there is in the world another poverty worse than the material: the contempt that the marginalized receive from society, which is the most unbearable of poverty.»
In accordance with these words, Saint Teresa of Calcutta turned into a raffle prize a convertible car that Pope Paul VI gave her during his visit to India in 1964 (a gift from the Catholic community) and allocated the funds raised to the creation of a leper colony in Bengal; she would later convince Pope John Paul II to open a homeless shelter in the Vatican itself.
The enormous moral prestige that Mother Teresa of Calcutta knew how to credit with her work in favor of «the poorest poor» led the Holy See to designate her representative before the United Nations World Conference held in Mexico in 1975 on the occasion of the International Year of Women, where he formulated his ideology based on action above organizations. Four years later, sanctified not only by those she helped but also by governments, international institutions, and powerful figures, she received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Aware of the respect she inspired, Pope John Paul II appointed her in 1982 to mediate in the conflict in Lebanon, although her intervention was made difficult by the complexity of the political and geostrategic interests in the area. From positions that some sectors of opinion considered excessively conservative, she actively participated in the debate on the most crucial issues of her time, to which she was never a stranger. Thus, in May 1983, during the First International Meeting for the Defense of Life, she vehemently defended the doctrine of the Church, conceptual, anti-abortion and contrary to divorce.
In 1986 she received a visit from John Paul II at the Nirmal Hidray or House of the Pure Heart, founded by her and better known in Calcutta as the House of the Dying. Over the course of the following years, although she maintained the same dynamism as her in the fight to alleviate the pain of others, her health began to decline and her heart to weaken. In 1989 she underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker, and in 1993, after undergoing other interventions, she contracted malaria in New Delhi, a disease that was complicated by her heart and lung ailments.
Finally, after overcoming various crises, she handed over her position as superior to Sister Nirmala, a Hindu converted to Christianity. A few days after celebrating her 87th birthday, she was admitted to the Woodlands Asylum Intensive Care Unit in Calcutta, where she passed away. Thousands of people from all over the world gathered in India to bid farewell to the Saint of the Sewers . Six years after her death, in October 2003, and coinciding with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the pontificate of John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was beatified in a massive mass attended by faithful from all over the world. . In late 2015, the Vatican approved her canonization; On September 4, 2016, before more than one hundred thousand faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square,Pope Francis officiated the ceremony that elevated Saint Teresa of Calcutta to the altars, whose festivity (September 5), incorporated into the Catholic saints, was celebrated for the first time the following day.
-Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
-We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.
-God made the world for the delight of human beings – if we could see His goodness everywhere, His concern for us, His awareness of our needs: the phone call we’ve waited for, the ride we are offered, the letter in the mail, just the little things He does for us throughout the day. As we remember and notice His love for us, we just begin to fall in love with Him because He is so busy with us – you just can’t resist Him. I believe there’s no such thing as luck in life, it’s God’s love, it’s His.
-The person who gives with a smile is the best giver because God loves a cheerful giver.
-If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.
-Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family.
-Work without love is slavery.
-Spread the love of God through your life but only use words when necessary.
-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.
-Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.
-Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.
-Intense love does not measure it just gives.
-Our poor people are great people, a very lovable people, They don’t need our pity and sympathy. They need our understanding love and they need our respect. We need to tell the poor that they are somebody to us that they, too, have been created, by the same loving hand of God, to love and be loved.
-I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Ask yourself “How has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way?” Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love.
-Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.
-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.
-Life is a game, play it.
-The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.
-Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.
-At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.
-If we pray, we will believe; If we believe, we will love; If we love, we will serve.
-Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.
-People are unrealistic, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
-Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
-The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.
-If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
-If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.
-When you know how much God is in love with you then you can only live your life radiating that love.
A Simple Path
-I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.
-Prayer in action is love, love in action is service.
-Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.
-Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
-I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.
A Gift for God: Prayers and Meditations
-Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.
-Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.
-Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
-A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves. 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 weakness.
-Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.
-Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.
-If I look at the mass I will never act.
-Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.
-Smile at each other. Smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other – it doesn’t matter who it is – and that will help to grow up in greater love for each other.
-A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.
-We must know that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and to be loved.
-What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.
-Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.
-I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?
-In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.
-What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight; build it anyway.
-Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.
-It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.
-Joy must be one of the pivots of our life. It is the token of a generous personality. Sometimes it is also a mantle that clothes a life of sacrifice and self-giving. A person who has this gift often reaches high summits. He or she is like sun in a community.
-We learn humility through accepting humiliations cheerfully.
-He who is faultless does not care for the opinion of others.
-In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.
-I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.
-I fear just one thing : Money! Greed was what motivated Judas to sell Jesus.
-If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive.
-I have more often as my companion ‘darkness.’ And when the night becomes very thick- and it seems to me as if I will end up in hell – then I simply offer myself to Jesus.
-Profound joy of the heart is like a magnet that indicates the path of life.
-We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion.
-It is a kingly act to assist the fallen.
-I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve becuase I love Jesus.
-We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.
-Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus – a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you.
-There are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things.
-Never be so busy as not to think of others.
The Joy in Living: A Guide to Daily Living
-Jesus said love one another. He didn’t say love the whole world.
-The way you help heal the world is you start with your own family.
-I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me, and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.
-I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.
-There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone’s house. That says enough.
-One filled with joy preaches without preaching.
-Each of us is merely a small instrument; all of us, after accomplishing our mission, will disappear.
-The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.
-The trees, the flowers, the plants grow in silence. The stars, the sun, the moon move in silence. Silence gives us a new perspective.
-Keep the corners of your mouth turned up. Speak in a low, persuasive tone. Listen; be teachable. Laugh at good stories and learn to tell them…For as long as you are green, you can grow.
-I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?
-Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.
-In loving one another through our works we bring an increase of grace and a growth in divine love.
-Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.
-Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
-At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God’s own love and concern.
-One truly must have suffered oneself to help others.
-Prayer makes your heart bigger, until it is capable of containing the gift of God himself. Prayer begets faith, faith begets love, and love begets service on behalf of the poor.
-When you have nothing left but God, you have more than enough to start over again.
-I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.
-Jesus gives me the opportunity to feed Him by feeding those who are hungry, to clothe Him by clothing those who are naked, to heal Him by caring for those who are sick, and to offer Him shelter by housing those who are homeless and unwanted.