Sayings of Mother Teresa | Catholic Saint


1. Introduction

Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997) never felt compelled to write a literary work, not because she did not appreciate literature or was incapable of writing, but because to do so would detract from the natural beauty and intimacy of her thoughts and convictions.

Instead, those of us familiar with the essential gospel message that appears in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12) can clearly see the affinity between that message and what Mother Teresa said on occasion - precisely because the message was ingrained in each of her daily acts.

Who among us doesn't know that Mother Teresa's main objective has been to do all the good she could for the least of Jesus' brothers and sisters?

Her feelings for the less fortunate were not arrived at by abstract reasoning, however. All she did, in her own words, was "follow Jesus' word."

Not given to much talking, Mother Teresa spoke when only necessary. Thus her words, never laboured nor many, were convincing.

The histories and sayings included in the following pages are Mother Teresa’s massages to those involved in her work: Co-workers, Sisters, and civic-minded groups eager to hear the words of a person who lived the challenge she presented to others.

When young Agnes (Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa's birth name) felt called to religious life, the church was feeling strong missionary impulse that characterized the papacy of Pope Pius XI (1922-1939).

Agnes, who voluntarily signed up to join a Catholic youth group in the Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart in her hometown of Skopje, Albania, felt the missionary calling very strongly.

In 1928, when she was 18, Agnes moved to Ireland to join the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto, and become what she had hoped to be: a religious in a congregation dedicated to teach the daughters of the poor and the rich. She stayed in Ireland three months.

In 1929 young Agnes was sent to Calcutta, India, where she arrived on January 6 - the feast of the Epiphany, which was the manifestation of the Lord!

After a week in Calcutta she was sent to Darjeeling near the Himalayas, to begin her novitiate.

In 1937 Agnes professed permanent vows and took the name "Teresa."

The Loreto convent housed the only Catholic school for girls in Calcutta, and majority students were of European descent, from more or less well-to -do families.

Sister Teresa knew, however, that on the other side of the walls of the convent many human begins were living in shacks.

She could have hidden behind the convent's massive walls and led peaceful life. But Sister Teresa was one of those rare people who talks Jesus at his word:

She read a Scripture text that seemed to challenge her directly, the one in which Jesus identifies with the poorest of the poor:

"Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me"(Matthew 25:40).

Several years later, she heard "a call within a call" and knew what she wanted to do for the rest of her life:

One night in 1946, on a train bound to Darjeeling, Sister Teresa, in a moment of prayer, felt "aware of a calling in the midst of my vacation: I had to leave the convent (Loreto) and consecrate myself to help the poor, living among them."

On August 16,1948, Sister Teresa faced the hard reality of the outskirts of the city, the slums of Calcutta:

"Abandoning Loreto," she said, "was an even harder sacrifice for me than leaving my family that first time in order to follow my vacation. But I had to do it. It was a calling. I knew I had to go; I did not know how to get there."

Soon after Mother Teresa departure from Loreto, some of her former students offered to follow her. This small group made up the nucleus what would be a new religious congregation.

Mother Teresa assured us that she did not have to think very hard to come up with a name:

"Missionaries of Charity - in other words, messengers of God's love to the outskirts. The people don't see us doing anything else."

Sister Teresa started working with those she found first: abandoned children. She picked up them in a park, taught them basic habits of good hygiene, and helped them learn the rudiments of the alphabet.

She humbly admitted that "in determining which work would be done, there was no planning at all. I headed the work in accordance to how I felt called by the people's sufferings. God made me see what he wanted me to do."

Therein lies the key to what the Missionary Sisters of Charity do and to what their founders’ total commitment was all about:

Mother Teresa was very clear in her goals: to love and serve the poor, seeing Jesus in them. She always left the ways and means to do this in God's hands.

One day Mother Teresa came up a woman dying on a sidewalk:

Because she wanted to alleviate the woman's suffering by offering her a bed - a peaceful and dignified place to die - Mother Teresa took the woman with her.

This act of mercy led Mother Teresa to open the Home for the Dying, in August 1952, called Nirmal Hriday (Home of the Pure Heart).

Mother Teresa later came upon the abandoned children who were, in many instances, the sons and the daughters of the dying staying at Nirmal Hriday:

To ease the children's plight, in 1955 she opened the first Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, the Children's Home of the Immaculate Heart, as a haven for orphans and homeless youth. Since then, people with AIDS, and unwed mothers.

The congregation soon began to attract both recruits and charitable donations, and by the 1960s had opened hospices, orphanages and leper houses all over India.

Mother Teresa then expanded the congregation throughout the globe. Its first house outside India opened in Venezuela in 1965 with five sisters.

Others followed in Rome, Tanzania, and Austria in 1968;

during the 1970s the congregation opened houses and foundations in dozens of countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States.

As the results of Mother Teresa's work - which she always attributed to God's doing – other groups, equally dedicated to serving the poor, have come into existence:

Among them - The Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded in 1963, and a contemplative branch of the Sisters followed in 1976.

Lay Catholics and non-Catholics were enrolled in the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa, the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, and the Lay Missionaries of Charity:

When a growing number of lay people began imitating the Sister's and Brother's surrender to helping the poorest of the poor, Mother Teresa prayed for guidance and started a movement called Helpers of Mother Teresa. (She preferred another name: Helpers of Christ with Mother Teresa.)

This group does not help the Missionaries of Charity with material resources:

rather, the group's purpose is to help the poorest of the poor as images of Christ, while offering its members ways of attaining personal consecration.

Teresa said:

"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."

Fluent in 5 languages - Bengali, Albanian, Serbian, English, and Hindi - she made occasional trips outside India for humanitarian efforts.

In 1982, at the height of the Siege of Beirut, Teresa rescued 37 children trapped in a front line hospital by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and Palestinian guerrillas.

Accompanied by Red Cross workers, she travelled through the war zone to the devastated hospital to evacuate the young patients.

She visited the Soviet republic of Armenia following the 1988 earthquake, and met with high profile political figures of USSR.

She was undeterred by criticism about her firm stand against abortion and divorce stating:

"No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work."

Teresa travelled to assist and minister to the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia.

In 1991, Mother Teresa returned for the first time to her homeland and opened a Missionaries of Charity Brothers home in Tirana, Albania.

By 1996 Teresa was operating 517 missions in more than 100 countries.

Over the years, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity grew from 12 to thousands serving the "poorest of the poor" in 450 centres around the world.

The first Missionaries of Charity home in the United States was established in the South Bronx, New York; by 1984 the congregation operated 19 establishments throughout the country.

Mother Teresa had been bestowed many awards, topped by the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Other awards included doctorates honoris causa by many universities, and large cash prizes.

She never considered any of these prizes and cash awards as personal property, but merely accepted them in the name of the poor - and spent every cent on them.