Saint Teresa of Calcutta by Ann Walker
Some days can be very challenging. Saint Teresa of Calcutta can be a great model to follow when we need to keep our chin up and just smile. Many remember her as “Mother Teresa.” Saint Teresa of Calcutta founded the Missionaries of Charity, and her “motherly” work involved taking care of the sick and dying. At times, it must have been so challenging. She was not a doctor, but she took care of people in the best way she could. If she had times where she felt that her mission was too difficult, she rebounded with, “God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” She also said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” She found strength in her belief that love would get her through the hard times. If Saint Teresa was faithful to God, God would be faithful to her, and He would help her to assist others.
How did she deal with watching those who were suffering? Saint Teresa knew that suffering comes at a cost; but if we offer it up to God, we are drawing ourselves nearer to God. Saint Teresa is known for many quotes, and one of them goes as follows: “Love to be real must cost; it must hurt; it must empty us of self.” When people selflessly give of themselves, they are working for the greater good. This reminds me of the quote, “I can do things you cannot do. You can do things I cannot do. Together, we can do great things.” Working together to help each other brings us closer to God. Saint Teresa knew that “Holiness grows so fast where there is kindness.”
How did Saint Teresa greet the suffering she witnessed daily? Most likely, she used kind, gentle words. “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” It is so easy to say things during the day that we regret by day’s end. It would be interesting if we could replace a thought with an action such as replacing an unkind thought with a smile. Saint Teresa was a big fan of smiles. She said, “Let us always greet each other with a smile, for a smile is the beginning of love.” When you are smiling at someone, it is hard to not be loving.
It can be delightful to see someone smile. Just one smile can brighten a day. If every person smiled at everyone they met…and those people smiled at everyone they met…just think about how many more people might be smiling. It’s catching!
One may have heard about Saint Teresa’s prayer life. She sometimes fell into dark times when her prayer life was rather dry. By looking at some of her trials and triumphs, it appears that she tried to overcome uncertainties and look at the positives. She had a vision (“The call within a call”) where she recognized Jesus’ saying, “I thirst.” She tried to live her life in a way that would bring Jesus to others. Her own sufferings helped her to understand better the suffering that others were going through. Even when she didn’t feel as close to God as she would like, she still kept her vow to answer God’s call. It appears that she lived by the following quote, “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.” By hanging on to the hope that God will help us, we can move forward with strength.
Finally, I think the following phrase is helpful: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Sometimes we can focus too much on things that happened in the past. Can we change anything that already has happened? No. Can we reflect back on events and consider how we might try to do things differently in the future? Sure. We are living in the here and now. No matter the challenges we face or the fears that may try to overcome us, we are reminded that the Bible has the words, “Be not afraid,” or other variations of “Do not fear,” listed 365 times! When we are confronted with unpleasant situations, we would do well to remember that Jesus is with us. He doesn’t want us to be afraid.
It is fun to learn more about our Religion to seek good role models and find ways to live our lives in the best way we can with confidence. If we can reach out to others with a friendly disposition and a smile on our face, we can hopefully live a “better today” and help those who are along with path with us…just like Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
- By Ann Walker