She Continued to Love and Serve through the Darkness
I remember the day that Mother Teresa died.
The world was still reeling from the shock of Princess Diana’s death only 6 days before. I can remember sitting in the den watching TV waiting to hear the latest news about Princess Diana’s upcoming funeral the next morning when the news of Mother Teresa’s death was announced. I think it is safe to say that the entire world was in shock and grieving the loss of two generous souls.
Mother Teresa is one of the world’s most admired and well-known public figures of the 20th century. Her mission was focused on the sick, poor and forsaken. During her lifetime, Mother Teresa was often dubbed a “living saint.” I fondly remember watching her on the news as a child and then being inspired by her actions as an adult. Her white sari trimmed in blue was her trademark and a symbol of true love and compassion. Mother Teresa impacted and inspired many people around the globe during her lifetime. She was canonized as St. Teresa of Calcutta on September 4, 2016, only 9 years after her death.
St. Teresa more than likely impacted your life in some way or another.
Here are three lessons that I learned from her.
1. Every human being deserves to be seen and heard. So many times St. Teresa could be seen looking directly into the eyes of the person to whom she was ministering. Often, she would be kneeling down beside them on the dirty ground, on their deathbed or in an orphanage in the slums. St. Teresa always placed herself in the midst of their suffering so that she could be the light of Christ in their darkness.
2. Moments of darkness and doubt filled St. Teresa’s heart and mind for over 50 years. At her death, the world learned of a darkness of faith that St. Teresa endured for years on end. Even though she struggled with meaning in her life, she continued to serve through the doubt and uncertainty. It was her love of Jesus that propelled her forward. It was her commitment to him and the call that he placed on her life that allowed her to minister to the broken even when she felt broken inside too. St. Teresa was overflowing with the love of Christ. It was within that abundant love that she was able to shine through her own brokenness to heal and encourage those she encountered each day.
3. Serving God isn’t always easy or comfortable, but you and I are each called to be the light of Christ in the world. St. Teresa faced harsh criticism and scrutiny in her lifetime. She also endured ministering day after day in places with intense pain and suffering. St. Teresa wasn’t afraid to go into difficult situations or search for the lost souls because she was confident in God’s call for her to bring his love and mercy to everyone she encountered. She was also known for courageously speaking up about important moral issues and often challenged world leaders to follow Christ. Here are a few words from the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC in February 1994,
“If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak — the unborn child — must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!”
St. Teresa was an ordinary woman who made an extraordinary difference in the world because of her love for Christ. She inspired generations to stand up and serve in their own communities and around the world. Her example of seeking out those in the most need and then pouring love and compassion over them is a legacy that will last forever.
How can you follow in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Calcutta?
Jennie is a Catholic speaker, life coach, Podcaster, weekly radio show host on Nashville Catholic Radio and founder of Catholic Moms in the Middle. After 26 years of working in Catholic education, Jennie felt God calling her "to step out of the boat" to serve in a new way. In her new ministry, she equips and encourages middle-life moms to reconnect with who they are and their unique God-given purpose so they can embrace midlife with confidence. She helps women to magnify the light of Christ in their daily lives to bring healing and joy to everyone they encounter.