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Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Born on 26 August 1910 & named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (aˈɲɛs ˈɡɔɲdʒa bɔjaˈdʒiu) - from Skopje,  Republic of Macedonia
In 1928 she joined the Sisters of Loreto
In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta
Mother Teresa died on 5 September 1997; she was beatified by St John Paul II on 19 October 2003 & canonized by Pope Francis on 4 September 2016.
Feast Day - 5th September

Mother Teresa: “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.”

3 2us by Mgr Leo Maasburg      
(with 2 quotes by St Mother Teresa)

Mother Teresa - “The young people, especially in their application, write: ‘I want a life of poverty, prayer and sacrifice that will lead me to a service of the poor. .. The lonely, the unwanted, the unloved – we try to bring Jesus to them, by involving them in the service of the poor, by our presence among them, they must be able to look up and see Jesus in us. And also I believe in helping them to come in touch with the poor, because the poor give us much more than we give to the poor.

Fr Leo: "John Paul II said ‘In Mother Teresa we meet one of the most important personalities in history’ .. Hers is the sanctity which shows the whole mystery of the redemption, sin and redemption. And I believe that we can pray to and venerate Mother Teresa precisely for this, to help us to collaborate in the redemption of the world. On her feast day this is the biggest wish I want to express. When we celebrate the memory of her death on 5th September, we can even liturgically invoke that favour from her: to be able to collaborate for the redemption of the world." (Recorded on 26th August 2010, the centenary of Mother Teresa's birth)

Mother Teresa:
"Christ said, "I was hungry and you gave me food" (Mt 25, 35).  He was hungry not only for bread but for the understanding love of being loved, of being known, of being someone to someone. He was naked not only of clothing but of human dignity and of respect, through the injustice that is done to the poor, who are looked down upon simply because they are poor. He was dispossessed not only of a house... but because of the dispossession of those who are locked up, of those who are unwanted and unloved, of those who walk through the world with no one to care for them.

You may go out into the street and have nothing to say, but maybe there is a man standing there on the corner and you go to him. Maybe he resents you, but you are there, and that presence is there. You must radiate that presence that is within you, in the way you address that man with love and respect. Why? Because you believe that is Jesus. Jesus cannot receive you - for this, you must know how to go to Him. He comes disguised in the form of that person there. Jesus, in the least of His brethren (Mt 25, 40), is not only hungry for a piece of bread, but hungry for love, to be known, to be taken into account."

Father Leo Maasburg has collected together 50 stories about Mother Teresa from over the 25 years he worked alongside her, particularly visiting with her countries that had been behind the 'iron curtain'. This book, 'Mother Teresa of Calcutta - A Personal Portrait' has been translated into more than 10 languages. Ruth, from the Totus2us team, heartily recommends it, having read it over a week-end (not being able to put it down), feeling like she'd met Mother Teresa by the end of it, and deeply moved by the stories that so beautifully highlight her faith.

The book 'Come Be My Light' collates together the letters Mother Teresa wrote to her spiritual advisors over decades, almost all of which had never been made public before (Mother Teresa had asked for her letters to be destroyed!). They shed light on Mother Teresa's interior life in a way that reveals the depth and intensity of her holiness.

For more about Mother Teresa, visit the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Centre's website.

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Blessed Mother Teresa: "Sanctity is not the luxury of the few.
It is a simple duty, for you & for me. ... Very great holiness becomes very simple if we belong fully to Our Lady.

"We all know that there is a God who loves us, who has made us. We can turn and ask Him, "My Father, help me now. I want to be holy, I want to be good, I want to love." Holiness is not a luxury for the few; it is not just for some people. It is meant for you and for me and for all of us. It is a simple duty, because if we learn to love, we learn to be holy.

The first step to becoming holy is to will it. Jesus wants us to be holy as His Father is. Holiness consists of carrying out God's will with joy. The words 'I want to be holy' mean: 'I will divest myself of everything that is not of God; I will divest myself and empty my heart of material things. I will renounce my own will, my inclinations, my whims, my fickleness; and I will become a generous slave to God's will. With a will that is whole I will love God, I will opt for Him, I will run toward Him, I will reach Him, I will possess Him.' But it all depends on these words; 'I want' or 'I do not want.' I have to pour all of my energy into the words 'I want'.

Through the Cross to Light      

- the spiritual experience of Blessed Mother Teresa
by Father Michael Dunne

"What's all this about? Why I think it's so important is the theology of the resurrection. This is what Teresa teaches us about. As St Paul to the Philippians says: "All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by conforming myself to the pattern of his death." Teresa teaches us: 'If ever I become a saint, I will surely be one of darkness. I will continually be absent from heaven to light the light of those in darkness on earth." The paradox of darkness is that it is the gateway to light, through the cross to light - per crucem ad lucem. The key to holiness in every Catholic's life - not just in the lives of the great saints, every one of us is called to sanctity - must be this interiorisation of the Passion; of what St Paul of the Cross calls 'participation in the Passion.' Because if we can interiorise the Passion of Jesus Christ, live it in our own suffering, then we are open boundlessly to all that the Passion is for the redemption of the world. It is the means of our own purification, living our suffering, but even when we have done that, it is the means of reparation also, that we share Christ's redemptive role in the world, which is the dignity conferred upon us in our baptism.  Mother Teresa says to the sisters going to daily Mass: 'Each sister is to do the work of the priest where the priest cannot go, and do what he cannot do. She must be imbibed by the spirit of Holy Mass, which is one of total surrender and offering. For this reason, Holy Mass must become the daily meeting place where God and his creature offer each other for each other and the world." What a staggering theology of the Mass - that you go to Mass offering yourself to God for the salvation of the world and, yes, God offers himself to you for the salvation of the world, and in that intimacy and communion we have joined the Cross and the Resurrection. Because, when St Paul tells the Galations: "I am crucified with Christ and yet I am alive. Yet it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me', it looks as if he is talking about the crucifixion, about darkness; but he's not talking about the crucifixion. He never knew Jesus of Nazareth on earth; he has only known the Risen One and what he is talking about there is the power of the resurrection, the power of 'per crucem ad lucem.' The last words to Mother Teresa: "The joy of loving Jesus comes from the joy of sharing his sufferings so do not allow yourselves to be troubled or distressed but believe in the joy of the resurrection. In all of our lives, as in the life of Jesus, the resurrection has to come, the joy of Easter has to dawn." So in the very darkness she lived, she was a witness to the resurrection and all of us are called and have that same gift offered to us in the daily suffering that we have in our lives."

(full talk - 30 mins. Apologies for sound quality - there was a torrential downpour going on outside during the talk!)

Mother Teresa: "For every illness, there are several medicines and treatments. But so long as there is no gentle hand swift to serve and no generous heart swift to cherish, I don’t think that a person can ever be healed of that terrible illness which is lack of love.

No one among us has the right to condemn anyone. And that even when we see people foundering without understanding why. Does not Jesus invite us not to judge? Perhaps we had a part in making those people the way they are. We have to understand that they are our brothers and our sisters. That leper, that drunkard, that sick person are our brothers because they, too, were created for a greater love. We should never forget this. Jesus Christ himself identifies himself with them when he says: “As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.” (Mt 25:40) And maybe those people are in the street, deprived of all love and of every care, because we refused to give them our love and care, our affection. Be gentle, infinitely gentle towards the poor person who is suffering. We understand so little of what he is going through. The most difficult is not to be accepted."

Father Tom's something about Mary      
"One day Mother Teresa was asked by a bishop the secret of her success .. How she'd managed to touch the hearts of so many people. In reply she told a story - she said that when she was young she was walking with her mother to a neighbouring village, and it was somewhere she had never been to before. At one point in the journey her mother stopped and said to her 'Do you know where we're going?' and she replied 'No, this is the first time I'm going.' And her mother said 'You're right, you don't know where we're going but you're not frightened because I'm here and I'm holding your hand and I will lead you to the place we're going.' And her mother said her 'In the same way, as you're going through life, hold onto the hand of Mary and Mary will lead you to the heart of her son, Jesus.' And Mother Teresa said that was really the secret of her apostolate, that each day she thought about Mary and she felt herself holding Mary's hands and Mary leading her ever more deeply to the heart of Jesus. I found that such a powerful story, I think of it every time I pray the rosary, because when I pick up my rosary I see it as really holding Mary's hands .. and being taken into the heart of Jesus."

Daniel's something about Mary      
"It wasn't until about 2 years ago I had a dream with Mother Teresa of Calcutta and she was in this beautiful , sparkling like altar and she was telling me to pray a lot to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I woke up the following day and told my wife "Wow. I had this amazing dream." I never had anything to do with Mother Teresa; how strange I had a dream about her telling me about the Blessed Virgin Mary and to pray a lot to her and to ask her for help ... This is my journey to the love that grew from my heart to Our Blessed Virgin Mary and I want to share it with everybody."

To download the free mp3 audio recordings, right / double click on the play buttons       

Pope Francis's Homily at Mass for the Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Saint Peter's Square, Sunday, 4 September 2016 - in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"“Who can learn the counsel of God?” (Wis 9:13). This question from the Book of Wisdom that we have just heard in the first reading suggests that our life is a mystery and that we do not possess the key to understanding it. There are always two protagonists in history: God and man. Our task is to perceive the call of God and then to do his will. But in order to do his will, we must ask ourselves, “What is God’s will in my life?”

We find the answer in the same passage of the Book of Wisdom: “People were taught what pleases you” (Wis 9:18). In order to ascertain the call of God, we must ask ourselves and understand what pleases God. On many occasions the prophets proclaimed what was pleasing to God. Their message found a wonderful synthesis in the words “I want mercy, not sacrifice” (Hos 6:6; Mt 9:13). God is pleased by every act of mercy, because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see (cf. Jn 1:18). Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help, and we visit the Son of God (cf. Mt 25:40). In a word, we touch the flesh of Christ.

We are thus called to translate into concrete acts that which we invoke in prayer and profess in faith. There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God (cf. 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18). The Christian life, however, is not merely extending a hand in times of need. If it is just this, it can be, certainly, a lovely expression of human solidarity which offers immediate benefits, but it is sterile because it lacks roots. The task which the Lord gives us, on the contrary, is the vocation to charity in which each of Christ’s disciples puts his or her entire life at his service, so to grow each day in love.

We heard in the Gospel, “Large crowds were travelling with Jesus” (Lk 14:25). Today, this “large crowd” is seen in the great number of volunteers who have come together for the Jubilee of Mercy. You are that crowd who follows the Master and who makes visible his concrete love for each person. I repeat to you the words of the Apostle Paul: “I have indeed received much joy and comfort from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philem 1:7). How many hearts have been comforted by volunteers! How many hands they have held; how many tears they have wiped away; how much love has been poured out in hidden, humble and selfless service! This praiseworthy service gives voice to the faith – it gives voice to the faith! – and expresses the mercy of the Father, who draws near to those in need.

Following Jesus is a serious task, and, at the same time, one filled with joy; it takes a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of the poor and those who are cast aside, and to give oneself in their service. In order to do so, volunteers, who out of love of Jesus serve the poor and the needy, do not expect any thanks or recompense; rather they renounce all this because they have discovered true love. And each one of us can say: “Just as the Lord has come to meet me and has stooped down to my level in my hour of need, so too do I go to meet him, bending low before those who have lost faith or who live as though God did not exist, before young people without values or ideals, before families in crisis, before the ill and the imprisoned, before refugees and immigrants, before the weak and defenceless in body and spirit, before abandoned children, before the elderly who are on their own. Wherever someone is reaching out, asking for a helping hand in order to get up, this is where our presence – and the presence of the Church which sustains and offers hope – must be”. And I do this, keeping alive the memory of those times when the Lord’s hand reached out to me when I was in need.

Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”. 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 recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour 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.

Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor. Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness! I think, perhaps, we may have some difficult in calling her “Saint Teresa”: her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continual to spontaneously call her “Mother Teresa”. May this tireless worker of mercy help us increasingly to understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion. Mother Teresa loved to say, “Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile”. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer. In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness."

St John Paul II's Homily at Mass for the Beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta
World Mission Sunday, 19 October 2003 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all" (Mk 10: 44). Jesus' words to his disciples that have just rung out in this Square show us the way to evangelical "greatness". It is the way walked by Christ himself that took him to the Cross:  a journey of love and service that overturns all human logic. To be the servant of all!

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Foundress of the Missionaries of Charity, whom today I have the joy of adding to the Roll of the Blesseds, allowed this logic to guide her. I am personally grateful to this courageous woman whom I have always felt beside me. Mother Teresa, an icon of the Good Samaritan, went everywhere to serve Christ in the poorest of the poor. Not even conflict and war could stand in her way.

Every now and then she would come and tell me about her experiences in her service to the Gospel values. I remember, for example, her pro-life and anti-abortion interventions, even when she was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace (Oslo, 10 December 1979). She often used to say:  "If you hear of some woman who does not want to keep her child and wants to have an abortion, try to persuade her to bring him to me. I will love that child, seeing in him the sign of God's love".

2. Is it not significant that her beatification is taking place on the very day on which the Church celebrates World Mission Sunday? With the witness of her life, Mother Teresa reminds everyone that the evangelizing mission of the Church passes through charity, nourished by prayer and listening to God's word. Emblematic of this missionary style is the image that shows the new Blessed clasping a child's hand in one hand while moving her Rosary beads with the other.

Contemplation and action, evangelization and human promotion: Mother Teresa proclaimed the Gospel living her life as a total gift to the poor but, at the same time, steeped in prayer.

3. Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant" (Mk 10: 43). With particular emotion we remember today Mother Teresa, a great servant of the poor, of the Church and of the whole world. Her life is a testimony to the dignity and the privilege of humble service. She had chosen to be not just the least but to be the servant of the least. As a real mother to the poor, she bent down to those suffering various forms of poverty. Her greatness lies in her ability to give without counting the cost, to give "until it hurts". Her life was a radical living and a bold proclamation of the Gospel.

The cry of Jesus on the Cross, "I thirst" (Jn 19: 28), expressing the depth of God's longing for man, penetrated Mother Teresa's soul and found fertile soil in her heart. Satiating Jesus' thirst for love and for souls in union with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, had become the sole aim of Mother Teresa's existence and the inner force that drew her out of herself and made her "run in haste" across the globe to labour for the salvation and the sanctification of the poorest of the poor.

4. "As you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25: 40). This Gospel passage, so crucial in understanding Mother Teresa's service to the poor, was the basis of her faith-filled conviction that in touching the broken bodies of the poor she was touching the body of Christ. It was to Jesus himself, hidden under the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, that her service was directed. Mother Teresa highlights the deepest meaning of service - an act of love done to the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, prisoners (cf Mt 25: 34-36) is done to Jesus himself.

Recognizing him, she ministered to him with wholehearted devotion, expressing the delicacy of her spousal love. Thus, in total gift of herself to God and neighbour, Mother Teresa found her greatest fulfilment and lived the noblest qualities of her femininity. She wanted to be a sign of "God's love, God's presence and God's compassion", and so remind all of the value and dignity of each of God's children, "created to love and be loved". Thus was Mother Teresa "bringing souls to God and God to souls" and satiating Christ's thirst, especially for those most in need, those whose vision of God had been dimmed by suffering and pain.

5. "The Son of man also came... to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10: 45). Mother Teresa shared in the Passion of the crucified Christ in a special way during long years of "inner darkness". For her that was a test, at times an agonizing one, which she accepted as a rare "gift and privilege".

In the darkest hours she clung even more tenaciously to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This harsh spiritual trial led her to identify herself more and more closely with those whom she served each day, feeling their pain and, at times, even their rejection. She was fond of repeating that the greatest poverty is to be unwanted, to have no one to take care of you.

6. "Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you". How often, like the Psalmist, did Mother Teresa call on her Lord in times of inner desolation:  "In you, in you I hope, my God!"

Let us praise the Lord for this diminutive woman in love with God, a humble Gospel messenger and a tireless benefactor of humanity. In her we honour one of the most important figures of our time. Let us welcome her message and follow her example.

Virgin Mary, Queen of all the Saints, help us to be gentle and humble of heart like this fearless messenger of Love. Help us to serve every person we meet with joy and a smile. Help us to be missionaries of Christ, our peace and our hope. Amen!"

Mother Teresa: "I believe that our mother the Church has elevated women to a great honour in the presence of God by proclaiming Mary the Mother of the Church. God so loved the world that He gave His Son. This was the first Eucharist: the gift of his Son, when He gave Him to Our Lady, establishing in her the first altar." - (Address on Women & the Eucharist 1976)

Blessed Mother Teresa:

My Dearest Children, May our Mother be a mother to each one of us and so the cause of our joy. And may each one of us be Jesus to her and so become the cause of her joy. No one learned the lesson of humility as well as Mary did. She was the handmaiden. To be a handmaiden is to be at someone's disposal - to be used according to someone's wish - with full trust and joy. Cheerfulness and joy were Our Lady's strength. Only joy could have given her the strength to go in haste over the hills of Judea to do the work of handmaiden to her cousin. So let us go in haste over the hills of difficulties. (10.08.1971)

Mary, Mother of Jesus, give me your heart, so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life, love Him as you loved Him and serve Him in the distressing disguise of the Poorest of the Poor.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta - Letter of 10/04/1974 to her co-workers

The poor are thirsty for water but also for peace, truth and justice. The poor are naked and need clothing, but also need human dignity and compassion for those who sin. The poor have no shelter and need shelters made of bricks, but also of a joyful heart, compassionate and full of love. They are sick and need medical attention, but also a helping hand and welcoming smile.

The outcasts, those who are rejected, the unloved, prisoners, alcoholics, the dying, those who are alone and abandoned, the marginalized, the untouchables and lepers..., those in doubt and confusion, those who have not been touched by the light of Christ, those starving for the word and peace of God, sad and afflicted souls..., those who are a burden to society, who have lost all hope and faith in life, who have forgotten how to smile and no longer know what it means to receive a little human warmth, a gesture of love and friendship – all of them, they turn to us to receive a little bit of comfort. If we turn our backs on them, we turn our backs on Christ.

Blessed Mother Teresa:

"My Dearest Children, Let us beg Our Lady to make our hearts 'meek and humble' like her Son's was. It was from her and in her that the heart of Jesus was formed. We learn humility through accepting humiliation cheerfully. We have been created for greater things; why stoop down to things that will spoil the beauty of our hearts? How much we can learn from Our Lday! She made use of the Almighty Power that was in her. Tell Our Lady to tell Jesus "They have no wine", the wine of humility and meekness, of kindness, of sweetness." (4.08.1962)

My Dearest Children, Let us ask the Sacred Heart for one very special grace: love for Our Lady. Ask Him to give and deepen our love and make it more personal and intimate for her:
To love her as He loved her.
To be a cause of joy to her as He was.
To keep close to her as He kept.
To share with her everything, even the cross.

No Greater Love (p 67)
It is possible that I may not be able to keep my attention fully on God while I work, but God doesn't demand that I do so. Yet I can fully desire and intend that my work be done with Jesus and for Jesus. This is beautiful and that is what God wants. He wants our will and our desire to be for Him, for our family, for our children, for our brethren, and for the poor.

Each one of us is merely a small instrument. When you look at the inner workings of electrical things, often you see small and big wires, new and old, cheap and expensive lined up. Until the current passes through them there will be no light. That wire is you and me. The current is God. We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us, produce the light of the world. Or we can refuse to be used and allow darkness to spread.