Years ago, a young priest who was a friend of mine had the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa. On the day for his appointment with her, he went to the convent and was brought into a separate room to wait for Mother to come in.
A whole hour later, she came into the room and warmly greeted him—then she got right down to business. She asked him to come and serve God’s holy poor in Calcutta. He told her that he couldn’t because of his parish responsibilities. So she suggested that he take a sabbatical so that he could come for a year. When he said he could not, she blessed him, wished him well, and went back to work. And that was that.
This story illustrates just how single-minded Mother Teresa was: God had called her to love and care for the poor, and that calling took top priority in her mind. She never stopped inviting people to stretch themselves so that they could do extraordinary things for God. It didn’t matter if they were rich or poor, powerful or everyday—she wasn’t afraid to ask.
You and I will never receive a personal invitation from Mother Teresa to come to Calcutta. But if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear her repeating something she liked to say: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” She’ll remind you that the mission field is vast, because there is more than material poverty: “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
St. Mother Teresa. As you know, Pope Francis will declare Mother Teresa a saint on September 4. So it’s no surprise that we have dedicated this month’s issue to her. This tiny, creative, persistent, and prayerful woman will always be a hero to me. Like so many others, I felt a connection to her, even though I never met her. It was her witness that moved me to start taking my children to serve at one of her shelters in Washington, DC. There, we would pray with the residents, serve lunch, and wash the dishes.
I also connected with her devotion to prayer. It seemed that when she wasn’t working, she was praying: morning prayer and Mass early in the morning, noontime prayer at lunch, and adoration and evening prayer after dinner—followed by time spent with her sisters. Mother Teresa often spoke about being very tired, but in the next breath, she would say that her times of prayer, whether alone or with other people, rejuvenated her and inspired her to do more.
Finally, I connected with Mother Teresa’s persistent call to love people, wherever they are, whoever they are, and whenever we can. This call to love has led me to try to be uplifting and encouraging with everyone I meet. As she said, I want to “spread love everywhere” and to “let no one ever” come to me without “leaving better and happier.”
I hope you enjoy reading this issue on St. Teresa of Calcutta. I hope it helps you draw closer to Jesus. I hope too that it motivates you to go out and do small things with great love—just as she did.