The Call for a Catholic in Calcutta.
Today’s inspirational hero devoted their entire life to aiding others in the very darkest of situations, but they did not do it for the natural high. We are sure everyone is familiar with Saint Teresa – more commonly known as Mother Teresa – since most of us were introduced to her name while still at primary school. This selfless, devoted nun spent most of her life assisting the poorest of people, even bringing herself into poverty to live closer to them. We would like to share with you some key aspects of her story.
Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia (bordering Greece, Albania and Bulgaria), in 1910. She felt the calling to become a nun from a very young age, displaying acts of true kindness and generosity as soon as she could comprehend what wealth was. When she was just eighteen years old, she was given permission to join a group of nuns in Ireland called the Sisters of Loreto and spent a few months in training where she worked and worshipped.
Once her training was complete, Mother Teresa moved over-seas again, travelling to India where she intended to work as a teacher. However, once she saw with her own eyes the widespread poverty breaking the heart of Calcutta, she knew deep inside of her that she had found her true calling. She joined a new order named The Missionaries of Charity, who devoted themselves into looking after those no one else was prepared to help. In other words, every day, Mother Teresa found herself comforting or assisting those who were dancing on the poverty line. She and her sisters believed that whatever you do to the lowest of mankind, you do to Jesus Christ, so they refused to turn a blind eye to the dire need lining the streets of Calcutta.
While in India, Mother Teresa aided the poverty stricken through the Bengal famine in 1943, and the Hindu/Muslim violence in 1946; no situation scared her away from her duty and no problem was too great to stay her hand. In fact, they only renewed her determination. For example, in 1948, Mother Teresa left her convent to live full time alongside the poorest in Calcutta, choosing to live in their conditions to bring her closer to them. This led to Mother Teresa herself begging for funds to feed herself. She even wore the Indian sari as a mark of respect to their traditions and beliefs, which was about all these people had left.
Thankfully, her work started to get noticed by those who could make even more difference; the local community and Indian politicians appreciated her efforts and funds started to come in faster and thicker.
In 1952, when Mother Teresa was 42 years old, she opened her first home for the dying. This was not a hospital where medicine would be administered to prevent or prolong death, but a home for those who did not have long left in their lives and craved a little comfort and dignity. After a book by Malcom Muggeridge brought her further into the public’s watchful eye in the 60s, Mother Teresa started to expand her help, including orphanages and hospices in her line of aid.
Mother Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, for “work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.” Amazingly, Mother Teresa asked for the $1920,000 fund to be given to the poor.
The final years of Mother Teresa’s life saw multiple health issues, but she battled through them until the last one eventually killed her in 1997. After an entire life dedicated to the poor and putting herself in their shoes by living beside them, the Roman Catholic Church believed she had done enough to be remembered for an eternity; in 2016, they canonised her as Saint Teresa.
A target for this week might be to do something selfless for someone you do not know. Maybe try volunteering at a charity shop or a soup kitchen. Mother Teresa put herself in harm’s way, into the clutches of poverty itself, to make sure she was there for other people, and will therefore forever be someone we admire.