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Mother Teresa: A life of poverty, chastity, obedience and journey to sainthood




“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”- Mother Teresa

On September 4, all roads led to St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City where His Holiness, Pope Francis after due consideration by the churchproclaimed Mother Theresa of Calcutta a Saint. “After due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint, and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church,” Pope Francis said in Latin. An honour exclusively reserved for those who uniquely served God and humanity with their all. The price for those who according to Saint Paulin 2 Tim 4: 22, “have fought the good fight, have finished the race and have kept faith.” No doubt this world acclaimedpapal proclamation came on the hills of her good fight, a good race and a well-kept faith here on earth. Even before her demise shehad already carved a nicheand earned herself that sobriquet with a dint of her diligence, perseverance and dedication. The world only waited forher transition for that to be accomplished.It was a solemn gathering of the faithfuls with the hosts of heavenly powers in attendance.

Mother Teresa gave hope to the hopeless, voice to the voiceless and life to the even the “lifeless.”Her works of charity, love for the poor resonates throughout the world and cut across all colours, race, ethnic and religious divides.Her service to humanity broke downbarriers and immensely opened up unimaginable frontiers. The lives and times of Mother Theresa was characterised by her un-relentless and unreserved life of giving. In 1928, at the age of 18, Agnes Bojaxhiuset out to become a catholic nun by taking up the cross of Christ, as she forsook the pleasures of the world to serve God and humanity.  She joined the congregation of Sisters of Loreto in Dublin, Ireland where she adopted the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. One year laterin May 1931, Sister Mary Teresa was went to Darjeeling, India, for her novitiate period and afterwards sent to Calcutta, where she was assigned to teach at Saint Mary’s High School for girls, dedicated to teaching girls from the city’s poorest Bengali families. On May 24, 1937, after taking her Final Profession of Vows to a life of poverty, chastity and obedience, she took on the title of Mother Teresa. Through her kindness, generosity and unfailing commitment to her students’ education, she sought to lead them to a life of devotion to Christ. “Give me the strength to be ever the light of their lives, so that I may lead them at last to you,” she wrote in prayer about her students.She taught in India for 17 years before she experienced a “new calling”in 1946 to devote herself to caring for the sick and poor. The school took off in an openspacewhile the established home for the dying destitute came up in a dilapidated building she convinced the city government to donate to her cause.

She was the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor. In October 1950, she won canonical recognition for the new congregation, which she founded with only a handful of members most of them former teachers or pupils from St. Mary’s School. Her order established a hospice, centers for the blind, aged and the disabled.In 1971, Mother Teresa opened her first American-based house of charity in New York City. And in the summer of 1982, she secretly went to Beirut, Lebanon, where she crossed between Christian East Beirut and Muslim West Beirut to aid children of both faiths. While there, she also opened Gift of Love, a home to care for those infected with HIV/AIDS.The charity was considered one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics. By the time of her death in 1997, the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 4,000 in addition to thousands more lay volunteers with 610 foundations in 123 countries around the world.

On December 17, 2015, Pope Francis issued a decree which recognised a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa, paving the way for her to be canonised as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. The miracle involved the healing of MarcilioAndrino, a Brazilian who was diagnosed with a viral brain infection and lapsed into a coma. His wife, family and friends prayed to Mother Teresa, and when the man was brought to the operating room for emergency surgery, he woke up without pain and was cured of his symptoms, according to a statement from the Missionaries of Charity Father. She was awarded the Jewel of India, the highest honor bestowed on Indian civilians, as well as the now-defunct Soviet Union’s Gold Medal of the Soviet Peace Committee. In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work “in bringing help to suffering humanity.”In 1979 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. She died in September 1997 and was beatified in October 2003.

The Pope fondly spoke about Mother Teresa’s life of service in the homily thus: “Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded, he said. She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity. She made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognise their guilt for the crime of poverty they created. Mercy was the salt which gave flavor to her work, it was the light which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering adding, may she be your model of holiness.”This woman of virtue was one whose worth is far above rubies.She was a dependable friend and comforter in times of need. Theshoulderfor the destitutes,the neglected and those abandoned in our society. She was a symbol of humility and an ardent lover of God, the society and her religious calling. Words are not weighty enough to describe Saint Mother Teresa. She was an enigmafar beyond human comprehension. This was a compendium of the life and times of a woman of substance whose life of poverty, chastity, obedience and journey to sainthoodthe worldgladly celebrates. It is said that what matters most in the life of a man was not the number of years spent but the lives touched and positive impact made. She was a model of her time and generation including ours. Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pray for us!

Eze, a Catholic, Media and Communications Specialist is the publisher of thenewinsightng.blogspot.com. He wrote via sunnyeze02@yahoo.com and can be reached on 08060901201