THE DIFFERENCE ONE LIFE CAN MAKE-MOTHER TERESA
AN EPITOME OF UNCODITIONAL LOVE
“Life is not worth living unless it is lived for others”
- Mother Teresa
In a world where the term “love” has been misunderstood and misconstrued, how many models of love can we find?
In everyone’s life there comes a defining moment that either refines us to give of ourselves to others and live beyond ourselves or defiles us to live for sensual pleasure and become self-centered.
History will always remember the one who lives selflessly for a noble cause. History will always celebrate one whose courage triumphs over the pressure to conform. History will always honor the one whose nobility inspires others to goodness. History will always distinguish one whose heart of compassion and benevolence pours out to all.
Let us unravel the life of one of the history makers who had imprinted a legacy of love in the hearts of humanity-Mother Teresa, the epitome of unconditional love.
Mother Teresa was born, Agnes Gorxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910. When she took her first vow in 1931, she also took her religious name, Sister Teresa, in honor of the patron saint of missions.
THE DEFINING MOMENT:
At the age of 12, Agnes experienced a defining moment in her life. She was praying at the feet of the status of Our Lady of Cernagore in Letnice close to Skopje. In her words, “I first heard the divine call, convincing me to serve God and to devote myself to his service and to the service of my neighbors. It was then that I realized that my vacation was towards the poor.”
THE RESPONSE TO THE CALL TO SERVICE:
Agnes began her formal religious training in Ireland with the order of the Sisters of Loreto in 1928. She took a special interest in India to practice and do God’s work. Agnes loved to read and through her studies she became aware of the dire poverty that India’s poor were subjected as many were starving, homeless and dying of diseases.
THE COMMITMENT TO SERVE THE POOREST OF THE POOR:
Sister Teresa arrived at Calcutta, India in 1929 and she saw hundreds of thousands of people living in the streets, in the midst of garbage and human waste. She was trained as a teacher and taught history and geography at Convent schools. Sister Teresa was given the exemption to teach the poor outside the convent-regardless of church rules. And on September 10, 1946 in her words, “I again experienced a call to renounce everything and to follow Christ into the slums…I understand that God wanted something from me… the message was quite clear, I was to leave the convent and help the poor whilst living among them. It was a clear order. I knew where I belonged. I felt intensely that Jesus wanted me to serve him among the poorest of the poor, the uncared for, the slum dwellers, the abandoned, the homeless.
Against all odds, after two years the Catholic Church granted Sister Teresa’s request to serve outside the convent on a probationary one-year basis in which the final decision would be reached on the matter after that.
A LONE CRUSADER FOR THE POOREST OF THE POOR
Sister Teresa thought about the needs of the poor and decided to meet the need of their medical care and education. She learnt the basic first aid and nursing skills. She started a school for the poor near Calcutta, teaching students outside and using the dirt as her blackboard and sticks as her chalk. Sister Teresa solicited persistently for funds from people and organizations which she utilized for her noble cause. In the process of time she was known for her selfless contribution to the poor and she founded her own religious order called, “Missionaries of Charity”. She became Mother Teresa and attracted novice sisters who were attracted by her selfless contribution to the poor to care for the poor alongside with her. The Missionaries of Charity took the vows of poverty, chaste, obedience and wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.
IMPACT AND LEGACY
Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity opened homes which cared for the orphans and disabled children and the home for the dying. She also established the Leprosy fund and Leprosy Day.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of the 20th Century’s greatest humanitarian. At the time of her death in 1997, the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 4,000 in addition to thousands of volunteers with 610 foundations in 123 countries around the world. And in 2010, the Missionaries of Charity reached 135 countries. The Order’s work has also experienced expansion to priests and brothers of the Missionaries of Charity who run orphanages, AIDS hospices and centers for refugees and the disabled. Mother Teresa was canonized on September 4, 2016.
LIFE’S LESSONS TO LIVE BY:
- Life becomes meaningless until you have discovered your life’s purpose, therein lies the joy of living-your soul’s code.
- Your assignment or your purpose on earth is always people-centered. You are a solution to someone’s problem and your purpose on earth always taps into what you love or are passionate about which also deploys your gifts and abilities. Selfish or self-centered ambition only makes life miserable.
- You can only experience true fulfillment when you become love-motivated as you fulfill your purpose on earth.
- You will never become relevant in life until you grow your mind and keep it growing. A major way to grow your mind is by reading, studying and engaging in any form of self-education based on positive and relevant ideas or knowledge that equips you to become a positive influence in the world.
- A dream without committed plan of action is only is only a wish.
- To become a solution to someone’s problem, you must identify with the people and gain a first-hand experience about their plight or condition.
- To achieve your major life’s goal you will need mini goals to help attract or pave the way to your major goals. Mother Teresa was trained as a teacher and taught history and geography at convent schools.
- Never accept limitations in your mind and never give in to the obstacles on your path-Mother Teresa never did.
- Your purpose on earth is always a discovery in your personal encounter and relationship with God-your Creator.
- Never let tradition and the status quo limit you from breaking out to accomplish your purpose-purpose knows no limit and sees no barriers.
- Fulfilling your purpose is not a popularity contest, everyone who accomplished their life’s purpose started alone but with the vision burning in their hearts. You can’t be significant in the world without passing through the process of being significant.
- To become a solution to your world, you must first think about their needs-Mother Teresa did.
- Never complain about what you don’t have, start with what you do have-Mother Teresa started the school for the poor outside using the dirt as the blackboard and sticks as her chalk.
- Persistently seek out partnership for your cause-Mother Teresa did.
- Transformational leaders lead by example.
- Mother Teresa and her team met the needs of the poor with a cheerful disposition. She was identified with her warm greeting and powerful smile.
- Live to love and live to give.
- Become an early riser and maximize your time each day. Mother Teresa rose early by 4:30am and worked late, using the late night hours most often to write letters soliciting for help, for her cause.
- Maximize your life-live for a purpose and on purpose as long as you have your breath. Mother Teresa still travelled to many different countries for speaking engagements even in her advancing years-living out her purpose, she refused to retire.
- Live boldly and courageously.
- Always speak from your heart and make your words count.
- Mother Teresa became a celebrity to be reckoned with but she never let her fame get to her head rather the fame of Jesus flowed from her heart as she perceived herself as only an instrument and credited God and Jesus for the great work she and the Missionaries of Charity had accomplished-thus she remained humble.
- You have the power to make a difference in the world by beginning to make a difference in the life of one person. The essence of your life is in the contribution you make to life, and the quality of your life hinges on the quality of seeds sown in the lives of others.
“Charity begins today. Today someone is suffering, today somebody is in the street, and today someone is hungry…Do not wait for tomorrow.”
- Mother Teresa.