Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the newest saint of the Roman Catholic Church, was the “Face of Charity” the world over for much of the 20th century. Documentaries have been produced and many books have been written about her. The only thing more moving than seeing her walk among the poor is reading her words which, in effect, give voice to the beating of her heart.
Wrapped in the white and blue of her simple “sari” habit, rosary at her side, St. Teresa of Calcutta’s irrepressible smile touched the great and the poor alike: those whose names are household words, as well as those who have no place to call home or who will never be known. She was simply “Mother” to everyone and continues to be. It is difficult to imagine all that her eyes saw as she glanced at the world around her.
It is not difficult at all to know “how” she saw: with the eyes of Jesus, loving everyone, especially the poor, without exception, without condition, without hesitation. There was no one she was afraid to touch, no matter how diseased or deformed they might be; no one she was unwilling to lift up, to carry or to comfort; no one she would not wash, no one she would not feed, no one she would not care for or accompany, often in the final moments of life. The poorest and most abandoned among us were served; the rest of us were inspired, perhaps even embarrassed or ashamed.
Yes, she was only and in every best sense “simply Mother.” And she forever moved humankind only by doing what her faith in Christ, what following Christ obliged and demanded. That is what makes a “saint,” whether canonized or not. St. Teresa of Calcutta continues to teach us that sanctity is within our grasp, no further than the homeless beggar on the street; no closer than the Lord Jesus within the human heart.
What more can or should be said to capture the essence of this woman, this religious sister, this Missionary of Charity, this Nobel Prize winner, this Mother? Let her speak:
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered: forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives: be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you: be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous: be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow: do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough: give your best