We all have our own heroes, people we admire and respect, people who made an impact on our life, that made us look at the world with a different eye, Mother Teresa is definitely the one for me.
Although the world is full of good people, great humanitarians that really care, people who donate billions of dollars, people who raise their voice to make a difference, Mother Teresa stands out in the crowd, she is unique.
"It is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the doing. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving."
She dedicated every day of her adult life caring for "The dying, the crippled, the mentally ill, the unwanted, the unloved" and she loved every minute of it because she was loving, she was cleaning, feeding "Jesus in disguise."
Yes, she fed them, sheltered them, cleaned their wounds, but what is more important is that she made them feel good, loved, and wanted. She gave them back their dignity that poverty had taken away from them and even if they died, they died with a smile on their face knowing that somebody loves them and somebody cares for them.
"Speak tenderly to them. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don't only give your care, but give your heart as well."
Agreeing or disagreeing with her on abortion, population control, divorce, or how she raised the money should not shadow Mother Teresa's life-long contribution and dedication to the poor and humanity.
To criticize someone, It's really easy... I suggest: stop criticizing her and do it better than she did.
A. Mother Teresa's Life
Mother Teresa was born August 27, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia, as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu from Albanian parents: Nikolle and Drandafille Bojaxhiu.
Her father was a successful and well known contractor, her mother was a housewife. She was the youngest of three children. Mother Teresa's family was a devoted catholic family. They prayed every evening and went to church almost everyday. It was her family's generosity, care for the poor and the less fortunate that made a great impact on young Mother Teresa's life.
By the age of 12, she had made up her mind, she realized that her vocation was aiding the poor. At age 18, she then decided to become a nun, and traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to join the Sisters of Loretto. After about a year in Ireland, she then leaves to join the Loretto convent in the northeast Indian city of Darjeeling, where she spends 17 years teaching and being principal of St. Mary's high school in Calcutta.
In 1946, Mother Teresa's life is changed forever. While riding a train to the mountain town of Darjeeling to recover from suspected tuberculosis, on the 10th of September, she said that she received a calling from God "to serve among the poorest of the poor." Less then a year later she gets permission from the Catholic Church to leave her order and move to Calcutta's slums to set up her first school.
"Sister Agnes" who was a former student, becomes Mother Teresa's first follower. Others soon follow, and papal approval arrives to create a religious order of nuns called the Missionaries of Charity. The foundation is celebrated on Oct. 7 1950, the feast of the Holy Rosary.
To identify herself with the poor she chooses to wear a plain white sari with a blue border and a simple cross pinned to her left shoulder. Their mission is as she would say when she accepted the Nobel peace prize: "to care for the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone."
With the help of Calcutta officials she converts a portion of the abandoned temple to Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction into Kalighat Home for the Dying, where even the poorest people would die with dignity. Soon after she opens up Nirmal Hriday ("Pure Heart"), a home for the dying, and Shanti Nagar (Town of Peace), a leper colony and later her first orphanage.
Mother Teresa and the sisters continued opening houses all over India caring for the poor, washing their wounds, soothing their sores, making them feel wanted. But her order's work spread across the world after 1965, when Pope Paul VI granted Mother Teresa's request to globally expand her order.
Whether it was in Ethiopia feeding the hungry, the ghettos of South Africa or it was her native country Albania when the communist regime collapsed, Calcutta's Mother Teresa "the living saint" was there.
In 1982, at the height of the siege in Beirut she convinced the parties to stop the war so she could rescue 37 sick children trapped inside. Mother Teresa became a symbol of untiring commitment to he poor and suffering. She was probably the most admired women of all time, receiving so many rewards and prices for her outstanding work and she used her reputation traveling all over the world raising money and support for her causes.
In 1962, she received the Pandma Shri prize for "extraordinary services." In 1971, Pope Paul VI honors Mother Teresa by awarding her the first Pope John XXXIII Peace Prize. In 1972, the Government of India presents her with the Jawaharlel Nehru Award for International Understanding. In 1979, She wins the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1985, President Reagan presents her the Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian award. In 1996, she becomes only the fourth person in the world to receive an honorary U.S. citizenship.
When she received the Nobel Prize she wore the same trademark, her $1 sari and convinced the committee to cancel a dinner in her honor, using the money instead to "feed 400 poor children for a year in India."
Today Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity now has 570 missions all over the world, comprising of 4,000 nuns, a brotherhood of 300 members and over 100,000 volunteers operating homes for AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis patients; soup kitchens, children's and family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools.
B. Mother Teresa's Health
Mother Teresa's health was deteriorating, part from her age, part from the conditions where she was living, and part of it was from her trips all over the world, opening new houses and raising money for the poor.
In 1985, she suffered from a heart attack while in Rome visiting Pope John Paul II. In 1989, she suffered another almost fatal heart attack and had a pacemaker implanted. In 1991, she suffers pneumonia in Tijuana, Mexico which leads to heart failure. In 1996, Mother Teresa suffers malaria, chest infection and undergoes heart surgery. On March 13th 1997, Sister Nirmala is selected as Mother Teresa's successor. Finally on September 5th 1997, The world learns that Mother Teresa "Angel of Mercy" had died at the age of 87.
C. The World Mourns
Queens and First Ladies, Presidents and Prime Ministers, former Heads of State, Ministers and envoys from over 23 countries, gathered together on September 13, 1997 to pay their final respects to Mother Teresa, the Albanian nun who in 1996 topped the Gallup Poll as the most admired women in the world that devoted her life serving the poorest of the poor and urged the world not to forget of those in need.
They all represented different countries, they all had different views on divorce, abortion, religion, and they were all touched by the devotion of Mother Teresa who like President Clinton said, "has served the poor, the suffering and the dying, and in so doing she served as an inspiration and a challenge to all the rest of us"
Among most notable dignitaries were Hillary Clinton, representing the US, Bernadette Chirac for France, Italy's Prime Minister, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister Peter Jennings, Albania's President Rexhep Mejdani, Ghana's President Jerry Rawlings, the Duchess of Kent represented the British Monarchy, Queen Noor of Jordan, Queen Sofia of Spain, and Queen Fabiola of Belgium.
The funeral was held at the Netaji Indoor Stadium which holds 15,000 seats. At the insistence of the Missionaries of Charity, about half of those seats were reserved for those unfortunate people she served during her life. The State Funeral services usually reserved for heads of states were led by cardinal A. Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state and the Pope's representative.
Even with Mother Teresa gone, her sisters at the Missionaries of Charities are still caring for the poor and sick with the same love and devotion as Mother Teresa did. Any donation will help them to reach more and more of the less fortunate.
Now that your familiar with one of the most important human beings to ever live maybe we can use some of the ideas, thoughts, and behavior and put it in our daily lives and make this world to be what Mother Teresa was striving for.