Who is Teresa of Calcutta?
She was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. She is the youngest child of Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu. She had her religious formation assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in which she was very involved as a youth. Subsequently moved to pursue missionary work, she left her home at the age of 18 to join the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. She received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux. Then she went to India to profess her final vow.
It was on a train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, that Mother Teresa received her “inspiration, her call within a call.”
Jesus revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor.
She started each day with communion then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him amongst “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.”
But there was a hidden side of her that neither her family nor her closest ones knew that she was going through a painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever-increasing longing for His love.
Why do I love her?
- She is a Mother: She is a symbol of love and compassion. A mother who cares for her children, who assists in their needs. All of us are in the midst of a pandemic. We all want to be taken care of and be loved. Her love for the people transcends even if she’s already in heaven. She once said, “Intense love does not measure. It just gives.” Truly, only a motherly love can say this. A love that never asks anything in return.
- A Dedicated Youth of Her Time: She started to offer herself to God at a young age. She knew that she wanted to pursue Jesus in her life. Not because of her own knowledge but she is truly grounded in love, in grace. She acknowledged it and went for it. No matter how young she was. No matter how uncertain the world is, it did not stop her.
- A Listener: She did ordinary things extraordinarily. How? She listened to Jesus. Even though she experienced ‘darkness.’ The “painful night” of her soul, which began around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the end of her life, led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness, she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in the interior desolation of the poor – all because she listened.
- A Joyful Giver: “Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” All of us in the MFC Youth are missionaries. We can evangelize more if joy radiates in us. Only a joyful giver can attract and catch souls.
- She Remained in Jesus: We are still in a pandemic and most of us are having a tough time. Some doesn’t want to do missions and left the community. Some say because they can’t hear God’s voice anymore and it’s better to go. It is truly hard. No one is exempted. It is hard to pray when there’s a great silence. But Mother Teresa felt it too for more than fifty years of her life, yet she remained in Christ. She remained grounded and rooted in God’s faithfulness and providence.
All of us in MFC Youth are all missionaries. All of us are called by God to be a vessel of love to others, to those who want to give up in life, to those who are having a hard time. But all of us have our own ‘darkness’ that we keep inside. But as we ponder Saint Teresa’s life, may it be an inspiration for us to continue the mission, to remain faithful, to believe that God’s grace is sufficient – that our ‘darkness’ inside can bless other people too. That it can turn into grace too – if we will offer it to Jesus as it is.
Our ‘darkness’ inside can turn into grace too – if we will offer it to Jesus as it is.
Anne Tumaque was a Mission Volunteer of MFC Youth. She was a former servant in the region of Luzon.