"Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words."
-- St. Francis of Assisi
At Saint Mother Teresa of Calcuta, we attempt to live out the Gospel values through a Franciscan lens. Inflamed by the fire of the Spirit of God, following in the footprints of Jesus and inspired by St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, we strive to maintain:
an intense love of God and a desire to live each day as Jesus did
a respect for all persons, especially the least among us
a deep reverence for all creation
a commitment to peacemaking
a desire to create community wherever we are
Grounded in community, we strive to live out Jesus’ Gospel values of LOVE:
Let others go first
Offer to help
Voice praise only
We are constantly reminded to center our Gospel lives in our relationship with God the Creator, Jesus our Brother, and the Holy Spirit. This relationship is strengthened through Eucharist, prayer, faith sharing and hospitality.
The term 'charism,' in reference to a founder or foundress, describes a particular anointing of the Holy Spirit upon their life and work, allowing them to trace out a new path of holiness and charity in the Church. This anointing bestowed on Mother Teresa a specific apostolic mission , a new way of serving the gospel, as well as a clearly defined spirituality , a unique way of envisioning one's personal relationship to God.
In the short time since her passing, Mother Teresa and her mission have become a modern icon of love and compassion , respected the world over. Even to the non-believer and agnostic, her name is synonymous with the tender care of those most in need.
The world-wide work of love she began was not undertaken in her own name. Neither its inspiration nor its accomplishment were hers. Nothing she achieved came from her own person, nor did she understand her work or her success as a reflection of herself – but rather of Him who had sent her . Her work, with its almost impossible physical and spiritual demands, was undertaken in complete, hour-to-hour, dependence on God.
For so many rich and poor alike, in search of some glimmer of God's face yet blinded by life's pain, Mother Teresa became a blessed window onto the heart of God. Her message, spoken softly in her small frail voice, but thundering in the witness of her work, remains to this day a portal of light drawing us into the tender, welcoming embrace of God. She is a "sign for this generation" – a sign that God has indeed ' so loved the world ' (Jn. 3,16). And more, as she herself insisted, a sign that God " still loves the world today... "
Her work of love, shared by her religious community and by lay-associates and volunteers around the globe, is not 'social work.' For Mother Teresa, the feeding of the hungry and the care for the dying are not an end in themselves. They are intended to be a work of grace and a channel of God's presence - and so they have shown themselves to be. The divine charity that animates these simple and humble works elevates them - to share in and extend Jesus' own redemptive work of love for the least and the lost.
Mother Teresa had known first-hand, well before she began her work in the slums, that the physical and spiritual needs of the poor surrounding her convent school were overwhelming. Countless thousands lived and died abandoned in Calcutta's streets and shanties, with nothing and no one to remind them of God's existence, much less of his love.
In 1946, in the face of such need, Jesus began inviting Mother Teresa to take up a new initiative on behalf of thesepoorest of the poor: by simply proclaiming His existence and His love in deeds before words. He wanted to live His life in her among the poor. In the midst of Calcutta's streets and gutters He longed to continue through her the life He had lived in the gospels, and the mission He had received from His Father. She did this by carrying Him into the "dark holes" where Calcutta's poor huddled, by living among them and like them, loving them in His Name, and serving His hidden presence in those who bore both the burden and the dignity of His Cross.
Looking back now, we can see that, in God's plan, she was to give a new face to the preaching of the Good News to the poor , both in the slums of Calcutta and beyond.
What was Mother Teresa's motivation for accomplishing all she did? What produced in her such joy, such energy and commitment? The one source of all she did and became is found in a series of intimate spiritual encounters with Jesus, beginning in September, 1946. In these dialogues, Jesus opened to her the deepest yearnings of His heart. On September 10th, 1946, during her annual trip to Darjeeling for a spiritual retreat, Jesus revealed to her the mystery of His 'Thirst' proclaimed on the Cross (Jn.19:28) - His infinite Thirst "to love us and to be loved by us " (MT). Mother Teresa was shown, and herself experienced, that the God of heaven and earth thirsted, yearned, longed for us - not only does He accept us as we are, He thirsts for us precisely, and especially, with all our weakness, poverty, and sin:
"Right now, today, and everyday, Jesus is thirsting for my love.
He is longing for me."
(Blessed Teresa of Calcutta )
"This is His longing for love, for my love."
(Blessed Teresa of Calcutta )
"So let us ask Our Lady - for She understood His Thirst best of all - to teach us to understand the gift of God to our Society, to satiate the Thirst of Jesus hungering for love, thirsting for love ." (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta )
"Stay very close to Our Lady. If you do this, you can do great things for God and the good of people.." (Blessed Teresa of Calcutta )
The role of Our Lady in Mother Teresa's work cannot be overstated - for Our Lady's presence and intervention in every aspect of Mother Teresa's life and charism was at the heart of her sanctity and apostolic fruitfulness.
Our Lady was Mother Teresa's pathway, her companion, and her constant support in hearing Jesus' cry of thirst on the Cross, as well as in answering him. For this reason she resolved to spend her life, in spirit, together with Our Lady at the foot of the Cross. MC life would be a life lived ' juxta crucem cum Maria .'