St Teresa of Calcutta Battery Candle
This remarkable woman began life named St Teresa of Calcutta battery candle. Born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, she was the youngest child born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu. She received her First Communion at the age of five. She was confirmed in November 1916. Her father died while she was only eight years old leaving her family in financial straits.
Gonxha’s religious formation was assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of the Sacred Heart. She was very involved in it as a youth.
Gonxha left her home in September 1928 at the age of 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. She received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Therese of Lisieux. As a result, in December of 1929, she departed for her first trip to India. Sister Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta. Also, she taught at St. Mary’s School for girls.
Gonxha becomes Mother Teresa
St Teresa of Calcutta Battery made her Final Profession of Vows, On May 24, 1937. She became, as she said, the “spouse of Jesus” for “all eternity”. From that time on she was called Mother Teresa.
She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944 became the school’s principal. Mother Teresa’s twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Also, she was noted for her charity, unselfishness and courage. Mother Teresa had a great capacity for hard work and a natural talent for organization. Furthermore, she lived out her consecration to Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.
On September 10, 1946, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration, her call within a call”. On that day, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her heart. Subsequently, the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of her life.
Mother Teresa forms the Missionaries of Charity
Jesus revealed to her the desire of His heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love on souls”. “Come be My light,’”He begged her. “I cannot go alone.”
Jesus revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor. Also, His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. Therefore, He asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor.
Nearly two years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received permission to begin. Finally, on August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time in a white, blue-bordered sari. She passed through the gates of her beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.
Mother Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little Sisters of the Poor. On December 21, she went for the first time to the slums. She visited families and washed the sores of some children. Teresa cared for an old man lying sick on the road. Also, she nursed a woman dying of hunger and tuberculosis. She started each day with communion. Then she went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him. She did this amongst “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” After some months, she was joined, one by one, by her former students.
Missionaries of Charity spread throughout the world
On October 7, 1950 the Missionaries of Charity was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early 1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India. The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. Similarly, she started foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every continent. Furthermore, in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries. She included the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.
Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963. In 1976 she founded the contemplative branch of the Sisters. In 1979 she founded the Contemplative Brothers. Subsequently, in 1984 she started the Missionaries of Charity Fathers.
Mother Theresa’s inspiration was not limited to those with religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers. These were people of many faiths and nationalities. So they shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity, sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love.
Lay Missionaries of Charity
This spirit later inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests as a “little way of holiness”. Because this was for those who desired to share in her charisma and spirit.
During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes towards Mother Teresa. She was awarded the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962. Then she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, honored her work. Consequently, the world media began to follow her activities. However, she received both prizes and attention ‘for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”
There was a heroic side of this great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all eyes, even from those closest to her, was her interior life. It was marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being separated from God. She even felt rejected by Him, along with an ever increasing longing for His love. She called her inner experience, the darkness. The “painful night” of her soul, began around the time she started her work for the poor. It continued to the end of her life. Mother Teresa was led to an ever more profound union with God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of Jesus. She shared in His painful and burning longing for love. Hence she shared in the interior desolation of the poor.
End of Mother Teresa’s life
Teresa suffered increasingly severe health problems towards the end of her life. However, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society. Also she responded to the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa’s Sisters numbered nearly 4,000 members. They were established in 610 foundations in 123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity. Subsequently she then made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last time, she returned to Calcutta. Finally, she spent her last weeks receiving visitors and instructing her Sisters.
On September 5, Mother Teresa’s earthly life came to an end. She was given the honor of a state funeral by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike.