Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun, fa
mous for her work among the poor and dying of Calcutta in India. In 1979 she won the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Born in 1910 into an Albanian grocer’s family, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu attended the local school, where her religious interests were already forming. At 18 she left home to join the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community where she received the name Sister Mary Teresa. She made her first vows in Calcutta in 1929, and from 1937, after taking her final vows, was known as Mother Teresa. After a period teaching at a girls’ high school, in 1946 she followed an inner urge, her ‘inspiration’, to leave convent life and work with the poor. In 1948 the Vatican gave her permission to leave the Sisters of Loreto and to start new work under the guidance of the Archbishop of Calcutta. Her newly formed group, the Missionaries of Charity, took the usual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, plus a fourth vow, to give free help to the poorest people. They began ministering to the dying in 1952.
In 1957 the Missionaries began to work with lepers and expanded their educational work. They also opened a home for orphans and abandoned children and in 1959 they began to expand, starting work in other Indian cities. Before long they had a presence in more than 22 Indian cities, and Mother Teresa had visited Australia, Africa and South America to establish foundations.
The Missionaries of Charity and affiliated lay groups expanded throughout the 1970s and Mother Teresa received increasing recognition and financial support. By 1979, when she accepted the Nobel Prize for Peace, she and her affiliated groups had more than 200 different operations in over 25 countries around the world. Later she sent her Missionaries of Charity into Russia, China and Cuba.
Tiny but energetic, in old age her wrinkled face familiar through the media, Mother Teresa maintained an aura of sanctity, little changed by the worldwide attention she received. Known as the ‘saint of the gutters’, her practical nature was combined with a complete lack of cynicism and absolute belief in the love of God for his poorest creatures. Long before her death in September 1997, books and articles started to canonise her and in October 2003 she was beatified .
Today the greatest means – the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here – our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us. Our children, we want them, we love them, but what of the millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today. Because if a mother can kill her own child – what is left for me to kill you and you kill me – there is nothing between. And this I appeal in India, I appeal everywhere: Let us bring the child back, and this year being the child’s year: What have we done for the child? At the beginning of the year I told, I spoke everywhere and I said: Let us make this year that we make every single child born, and unborn, wanted. And today is the end of the year, have we really made the children wanted?
… I believe that we are not real social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of the world For we are touching the Body of Christ 24 hours. We have 24 hours in his presence, and so you and I. You too must try to bring that presence of God in your family, for the family that prays together stays together. And I think that we in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace – just get together love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other, in the home. And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world.
There is so much suffering, so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. It is to God Almighty – how much we do it does not matter, because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.
‘The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion.’
… And with this prize that I have received as a prize of peace, I am going to try to make the home for many people that have no home. Because I believe that love begins at home, and if we can create a home for the poor – I think that more and more love will spread. And we will be able through this understanding love to bring peace, be the good news to the poor. The poor in our own family first, in our country and in the world.
To be able to do this, our Sisters, our lives have to be woven with prayer. They have to be woven with Christ to be able to understand, to be able to share.
Because today there is so much suffering – and I feel that the passion of Christ is being relived all over again. Are we there to share that passion, to share that suffering of people? Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society – that poverty is so hurtful and so much, and I find that very difficult.
Our Sisters are working amongst that kind of people in the West. So you must pray for us that we may be able to be that good news, but we cannot do that without you. You have to do that herein your country. You must come to know the poor, maybe our people here have material things, everything, but I think that if we all look into our own homes, how difficult we find it sometimes to smile at each other, and that the smile is the beginning of love.
‘We are touching the body of Christ 24 hours.’
… I never forget some time ago about fourteen professors came from the United States from different universities. And they came to our house and we talked of love, of compassion, and then one of them asked me: Say, Mother, please tell us something that we will remember, and I said to them: Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. Smile at each other. And then another one asked me: Are you married? and I said: Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at Jesus because he can be very demanding sometimes. This is really something true, and there is where love comes – when it is demanding, and yet we can give it to Him with joy. Just as I have said today, I have said that if I don’t go to Heaven for anything else I will be going to Heaven for all the publicity because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to Heaven. I think that this is something, that we must live life beautifully, we have Jesus with us and He loves us. If we could only remember that God loves us, and we have an opportunity to love others as he loves us, not in big things, but in small things with great love, then Norway becomes a nest of love. And how beautiful it will be that from here a centre for peace has been given. That from here the joy of life of the unborn child comes out. If you become a burning light of peace in the world, then really the Nobel Peace Prize is a gift of the Norwegian people. God bless you!
Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun, fa