By Fr. Neil Bakker
From the time she was twelve years old, Saint Mother Teresa knew she had a vocation to the poor. After forty years of service she reflected saying, “I’ve never doubted even for a second that I’ve done the right thing.” Born in Northern Macedonia, a country situated just north of Greece, at the age of 19 she took a 5-week journey from her hometown to Calcutta India. She did 2 years of initiation into the religious life as novitiate, making her first profession on May 25, 1931. “If you could know how happy I am, as Jesus’ little spouse. No one, not even those who are enjoying some happiness which in the world seems perfect, could I envy, because I am enjoying my complete happiness, even when I suffer for my beloved spouse.” She lived a life dispensed for the poor; serving those who were dejected, and left for dead in the streets. “Every Sunday I visit the poor in Calcutta’s slums. I cannot help them, because I do not have anything, but I go to give them joy.”
It was in 1946, on a train to Darjeeling, that God asked Mother to “satiate the thirst of Jesus by serving Him in the poorest of the poor.” To the end of her life, Mother Teresa insisted that the single most important reason for the existence of the congregation she founded was to satiate the thirst of Jesus; a physical need that crave to be satisfied, a painful longing for what is missing. Today, Mother’s thousands of sisters are in dozens of countries. The last two decades of her life were a period of intense activity, as she traversed the world. While in Rome in 1983, a heart condition was discovered from which she recovered, but her strength began to fail; from that point on, she was never long without sickness and physical pain. By 1989 her heart condition was worsening, and several times she was at death’s door. In December she had a permanent pacemaker inserted. In her last illness, in 1996, she was often in the hospital. She was literally pinned to the bed, nailed to the cross. When she became conscious, she immediately tried to make the sign of the cross.
Mother Teresa is a wonderful example of a suffering servant, who gave all to Jesus. She had an intimate, burning love for our Lord, and sought wisdom and counsel from God for discernment of her life. She attempted to relieve her brothers and sisters of their slavery to pain and suffering, with great affection for Jesus who dwells in the poor. Most of all, Saint Mother Teresa was a true disciple of Jesus. She held the cross as the center of her life, carrying it daily and following after her Lord. She was the definition of giving herself for others, out of Love for Jesus. On December 17, 2015, Pope Francis approved the second miracle attributed to her involving the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumors, and this weekend (Sunday, September 4, 2016), she was canonized a Saint. Saint Mother Teresa, PRAY FOR US!