This past Tuesday, September 5th the Church celebrated the feast day of St. Teresa of Calcutta. We have all heard of Mother Teresa, and her great dedication to serving the poorest among us. We admire all that she did in service to others and the incredible difference she made in the world. Mother Teresa once said, “God did not call me to be successful. God has called me to be faithful.” And faithful she was! Teresa at an early age realized that God was calling her to be a nun. At the age of 18, she entered the convent of the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin, Ireland and one year later made her final vows in Calcutta, India. She took the name Teresa in honor of two of her spiritual mentors, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Teresa of Avila. She began her service as a teacher, but had an urge to address the poverty that she saw everyday on the streets of Calcutta. On September 10th, ‘Inspiration Day’, a day that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the courage so many in our world exemplify, Teresa heard the voice of Jesus speaking to her while on a train ride to a retreat. Jesus called her to leave her convent and to begin a ministry where she would serve and live among the poor. In 1950, Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity and two years later opened her first home for the dying. To this day there are over 4,500 nuns serving the “poorest of poor” in 133 countries, as well as, affiliated orders of brothers, contemplatives, priests and lay missionaries.
“Do we know the poor in our own homes? Sometimes people can hunger for more than bread. It is possible that our children, our husband, our wife, do not hunger for bread, do not need clothes do not lack a house. But are we equally sure that none of them feels alone, abandoned,neglected, needing some affection? That, too, is poverty”
– Mother Teresa
We may not be poor in material things, but many of us in this world have a spiritual poverty; family life isn’t the same as it has been in past times, our health or age limits us and everything moves at such a fast pace that we leave little time for prayer and joyful service. This weekend our parish welcomes ‘The Little Sisters of the Poor’ founded by St. Jeanne Jugan, whose charism is one of joyful hospitality, humble service, compassion and a spirit of gratitude and sharing. These Religious Sisters serve the neediest elderly among us, and provide a home where the elderly are welcomed and cared for as Christ would. Let us open our hearts to the words of St. Jeanne Jugan who said that “making the poor happy is everything,” as we continue our parish mission to be ‘A Church for the Poor.’ May we also be inspired, not to strive for an unrealistic standard of perfection, but for the virtue of perseverance, resilience and courage that will help us to become Christ to others. St.Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us! St. Jeanne Jugan, pray for us!