Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.St. Teresa of Calcutta
Faithful, not Successful
We can’t deny that St. Teresa of Calcutta did some big and incredible things, like create a new religious order in India and speak out against abortion in the United States. While these accomplishments are important, the little things that she did were just as important. Near the end of her life, Mother Teresa said in an interview “God has not called me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.” Mother Teresa understood how to love unconditionally. St. Teresa discovered the urgency of the Gospel and mission, and she shared in Jesus’ thirst for souls. As Jesus longs to love us, St. Teresa dedicated her life to loving everyone around her, even those who were the hardest to love.
A Call Within a Call
Even as a young child, Teresa was absolutely in love with Jesus, particularly in his most Sacred Heart. When she joined the Loreto Sisters, she made a vow to never refuse anything of Jesus. Five years later, she experienced three visions which she described as a “call within a call.” Teresa saw crowds of suffering people and heard Jesus asking her to take care of them and bring them to him. She responded to this “call within a call” by establishing the Missionaries of Charity, a religious order that ministers to the most poverty-stricken individuals in Calcutta, India.
As soon as Mother Teresa started her ministry with the Missionaries of Charity, she fell into spiritual desolation. She experienced what’s known as “the dark night of the soul,” which made her feel like an atheist when she prayed. I never knew this about Mother Teresa until college, and frankly, I never would have known if a Catholic speaker hadn’t mentioned it in a talk. Regardless, Mother Teresa’s faith and love remained strong. She didn’t stop praying or serving the poor when she couldn’t feel God. I love to look to her when I feel discouraged about praying. Her persistence inspires me to keep showing up to prayer, and by choosing God even when it’s difficult, she’s a perfect example of true love.
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Loving “Jesus in Disguise” in Little Ways
Mother Teresa spent the rest of her life serving the least of her brothers and sisters in Christ. She went out to the streets to love and serve the poorest of the poor in Calcutta. Every day she encountered sick, homeless, dirty, and hungry people who were abandoned, forgotten, and left to die in the streets. When Mother Teresa looked at these people, she saw more than their condition. She literally saw the face of Jesus. In the people who others would view as not worth the time of day, Mother Teresa saw our Lord. She said, “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.”
Much like St. Therese of Lisieux, whose name Mother Teresa chose for herself, she did little things with great love. While it’s tempting to realize the masses of people in need and feel overwhelmed with work to do for them, St. Teresa of Calcutta teaches us to serve on a more focused and intentional scale. She gave her undivided attention to one person at a time and loved deeply and individually. With a little grace, we can have a missionary heart like hers. We might not be called to encounter the poor in the streets of Calcutta, but we can still see Christ in those around us and serve him through them. By spending time with a friend or even washing the dishes, we can spread love wherever we go when we remember that everyone we meet is Jesus in disguise.
St. Teresa of Calcutta loved like no one else, but everyone can emulate her love. I pray that we can find our own Calcutta wherever the Lord places us. May we always radiate God’s love to all of his children.
Fun fact! I’ve heart St. Teresa of Calcutta lovingly nicknamed “Mama T,” and that’s what I call my own mom sometimes because her name is Tina!
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