The tenth anniversary of the death of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is this week. Mother Teresa has been in the news recently with the publication of some of her private letters and a Time magazine cover story that revealed a life typical of most saints, one filled with much darkness as it progressed in the light of Christ.
No one, not even in the secular media, can ever doubt Mother Teresa’s service to the “least brothers and sisters” of this world. She spent a majority of her life caring for the “poorest of the poor.” She spoke many times of the importance of love and family, of accepting the gift of life, and of learning many lessons from the poor.
One of her favorite stories was of a man she and her sisters picked up from the street drain, half eaten by worms. When they brought him to their home, the man said, “I have lived like an animal in the street, but am going to die as an angel: loved and cared for.”
Mother Teresa was honored many times in her life. In 1979 she won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1992 she was asked to come to New York to be presented with $100, 000 for her work by a Catholic organization. The occasion was a fancy formal dinner where filet mignon would be served. Mother Teresa accepted the check. Next she scolded the crowed for their extravagance, telling them that before she came it took her three hours to scrape the maggots from a dying man’s body. Then she left without eating. A few days later, she received another $100,000 donation, equal to the cost of the banquet.
What was so attractive about Mother Teresa to many people was that she “walked the talk.” For example, visitors to her chapel in Calcutta would notice that the lights were turned off during all parts of the Mass except when there was a reading. “No money that is given to the poor should be wasted on our electricity. We use only what we absolutely need,” she explained.
Her life was an answer to the challenge extended by Jesus that whatever is done for the hungry, the thirsty, the lonely, and the naked was done for him. As Mother Teresa explained:
At the end of life we will not be judged by
how many diplomas we have received
how much money we have made
how many great things we have done.
We will be judged by
“I was hungry and you gave me to eat
I was naked and you clothed me
I was homeless and you took me in.”
- When have you felt “called” by God to do something for him or for people in need?
- Do you think Mother Teresa was right or wrong for refusing to eat at the banquet with the people who honored her? Explain.
- Who are people at your school or in your community who need to have someone reach out to them because of their material or spiritual needs? What could you do for these people.
- Read Matthew 25:31–45. Have the students suggest people who fit into the categories of “least brothers and sisters” in their school, local community, and world at large.
- Assign a report on the progress of Blessed Teresa’s cause for sainthood.