St. Teresa of Calcutta
By Steve Taranovich
We, as Roman Catholics, can say that we have seen the works of a Saint in our lifetime—-those of us know of Mother Teresa—now St. Teresa of Calcutta. St. Teresa’s feast day is September 5 and she is the Patron of World Youth Day.
Who is Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu? Well, she was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje and received her first Holy Communion at five years of age—-how often does that happen? She received her First Confirmation a year later. This in St. Teresa of Calcutta.
St. Teresa of Calcutta left home at 18 years of age to join the Institute of Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. Her religious name became Sister Mary Teresa in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux—a Carmelite Saint and Doctor of the Church.
She journeyed to India in December of 1929 and arrived in Calcutta. It was there that she made her First Profession of Vows in May of 1931 and was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta. She began teaching at St. Mary’s School for girls.
St. Teresa of Calcutta made her Final Profession of Vows on May 24, 1937.
I want to share a very unique story about St. Teresa of Calcutta that shows her great faith in God.
In 1982, in the middle of the war in Lebanon, she rescued 100 orphans and children with disabilities. Through faith and prayer, she managed to get a ceasefire and evacuate these abandoned children when the orphanage staff fled. A battle was raging with bombs everywhere.
She said, “….I believe it is our duty. We must go and take the children one by one. Risking our lives is in the order of things. All for Jesus. All for Jesus. You see, I’ve always seen things in this light. A long time ago, when I picked up the first person (from a street in Calcutta), if I had not done it that first time, I would not have picked up 42,000 after that….”
They told her it was impossible, but she replied, “Ah, but I asked Our Lady in prayer. I asked for a cease-fire for tomorrow eve of her feast day” (on the eve of 15 August, the Feast of the Assumption).
A cease-fire was negotiated by the Ambassador of the United States, Philip Habib, but obtained through St. Teresa of Calcutta’s great faith. A calm enveloped Beirut. She rescued the children.
Here is a French poem dedicated to St. Teresa of Calcutta:
To Mother Teresa, to comfort her for her night
At daybreak she rose,
It was still dark.
She had slept in clothes.
We had to steal this moment from the madness of bombs,
An unreal calm fell.
That bombing stop?
She asked for it.
In faith, she lit
A consecrated candle.
And calm lasted,
The time for the flame to burn.
Such was her respect for life,
She had to save them:
The spastic kids
Of the Islamic orphanage.
Mother Teresa, it is for us that this chasm has opened.
The night of faith is a supernatural night.
It is God himself who advances, disguised as abyss
Who takes in your flesh, the total night of the West.