Monday, September 5, 2016

For All the Saints: St. Teresa of Calcutta

Today is the feast day of a saint who was canonized only yesterday! Everyone knows about Mother Teresa (1910-1997). provides a good article about her life: She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, of Albanian parents, in the city of Skopje, then part of the Ottoman empire, now Macedonia. Her hometown still honors her: I found this early photo online.

At the age of 18 she went to Ireland to join Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto (not to be confused with a different order, the Sisters of Loretto, which founded the university where my wife and I work). At the order, she received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux. The following year, she made her first trip to Calcutta and soon became a teacher for girls in that city. Several years later, in 1946, she felt a call to specially serve the poor and to establish a community for the help of the severely impoverished, the Missionaries of Charity. In 1948, she began this work, and her organization was officially established in Calcutta in 1950. The work spread throughout India and to many other countries as well. She also founded related organizations for men, like the Missionaries of Charity Brothers. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

Please read that article for a more full account of her work. That author also writes, "Hidden from all eyes, even from those closest to her, was her interior life marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, the 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."

She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003, and in 2015 a second miracle attributed to her intercession was confirmed, leading to her formal canonization by Pope Francis yesterday. Here is one news story:

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