As you reflect on the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta, in what ways do you find yourself touching the wounds of Christ?
“And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.”
ReflectionIn his meditation on July 3, 2013, Pope Francis reflected on the encounter of St. Thomas the Apostle with the risen Jesus. Jesus invited Thomas to place his hands into Jesus’ wounds. In reaction to Jesus’ invitation, Thomas fell onto his knees in devotion to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) Pope Francis went on to reflect:
How can I find the wounds of Jesus today? I cannot see them as Thomas saw them. I find them in doing works of mercy, in giving to the body—to the body and to the soul, but I stress the body—of your injured brethren, for they are hungry, thirsty, naked, humiliated, slaves, in prison, in hospital. These are the wounds of Jesus in our day.Pope Francis says that merely giving resources to charity is not sufficient. “We must touch the wounds of Jesus, caress them. We must heal the wounds of Jesus with tenderness. We must literally kiss the wounds of Jesus.” (Daily Meditation, July 3, 2013)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997) was one of the most visible Catholic missionaries tending to the wounds of Jesus in the twentieth century. Born in what is now Skopje, Macedonia on August 29, 1910, she was the youngest in her family. She lost her father at the age of eight, but was raised by a mother of profound faith and received her religious formation in a strong Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart. From her earliest days she sensed a vocation to be a missionary to the world, especially to those who are poor.
At the age of 18 she joined the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loretto. She was sent to Calcutta, India, and for 20 years she dedicated her life to her community and students. In 1948, during a train ride to her annual retreat in Darjeeling, India, Sister Teresa received her “call within a call” from Jesus to establish a religious community dedicated to ministering to the poorest of the poor. This call was accompanied by deep experiences of consolation and inspiration. She left her community in 1948, studied with the Medical Missionary Sisters of Patna to train for her future, and moved into the streets of Calcutta.
Sister Teresa started to care for the poor one by one, helping an old man sick on the road and nursing a woman dying of hunger and tuberculosis. She began each day celebrating at Mass and meditating in communion with Jesus and the Eucharist. Her new congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, was officially established in 1950 by the Archdiocese of Calcutta.
The quiet work of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity came to the attention of the world through Malcolm Muggeridge’s 1969 film Something Beautiful for God, which became a book in 1972. Mother Teresa became a worldwide ambassador for the poor, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Along with her personal witness, the Missionaries of Charity became a worldwide community. By 1997, the Missionaries of Charity had nearly 4,000 members and had established 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. When Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, she was admired and revered worldwide.
Mother Teresa lived a public life of extraordinary service as a witness of Christian love. When Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta by Mother Teresa was published in 2007, the world came to know another side of Mother Teresa: she experienced a deep, painful, and abiding sense of separation from God. She longed for a return to the time of consolation that led to her new vocation. Mother Teresa struggled with the temptation of believing that she had been rejected by God, as described in the Vatican biography:
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.Today, on September 4, 2016, Mother Teresa of Calcutta is declared a saint by Pope Francis.
Image by Manfredo Ferrari under CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Some people once asked Mother Teresa of Calcutta what needed to change in the Church, and which wall should they start with? They asked her, where is the starting point? And she replied, you and I are the starting point! This woman showed determination! She knew where to start. And today I make her words my own and I say to you: shall we begin? Where? With you and me! Each one of you, once again in silence, ask yourself: if I must begin with myself, where exactly do I start? Each one of you, open his or her heart, so that Jesus may tell you where to start.
Address of Pope Francis at the Waterfront of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, 27 July 2013
Mercy in Action
► Read “Mother Teresa and Doing Something Beautiful for God” by James Martin, SJ, excerpted from My Life with the Saints (10th Anniversary Edition).
► Reflect on how you can do something beautiful for God through practicing the works of mercy.
Intercede for us, St. Teresa, that we may discover the wounds of Christ in the wounds of the world. May we act with justice and judgment, loyalty, and compassion.
5 Sep 2016
September 5th - Feast day of St Teresa of Calcutta
Loyola Press in the USA is a Jesuit Ministry and has a series of reflections called "Moments of Mercy" available via email and online during the Year of Mercy. You can sign up for the reflections HERE. Given the special feast day today, we decided to share the reflection today from Loyola Press and encourage you to sign up for their "Moments of Mercy"