Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta: Saint of the Gutters 1910-1997

RANDOM THOUGHTS: Voices from Yesterday and Today
by Peachy Maramba

It is thanks to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a frail diminutive simple nun, that the conscience of the world was awakened to the true nature of poverty caused by lack of love and acceptance and the desperate need for everyone to help alleviate it. She stirred the world to love and to have compassion towards the poorest among the poor. This is why Mother Teresa is known worldwide for her special brand of poverty that she fought against and that she disseminated throughout the world. Little did anyone realize that this earth-shaking message brought by this angel of mercy would rouse the world to care for the poorest of the poor – the sick, the aged, the dying, the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the marginalized, the downtrodden the people suffering from AIDS, etc.of the Gutters

Mother Teresa as she is fondly known throughout the world, although she has recently been canonized a saint on September 4, 2016, was a mere Albanian nun who had originally joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto in Ireland.
Assigned to Darjeeling, India where she took her religious vows in 1937, she
spent the first 20 years there in dedicated service first as a teacher and then as principal of St. Mary’s High School.During a retreat in 1942 she promised to
give God anything He might ask. This came in 1946 when she was travelling
from Calcutta back to Darjeeling by train for her annual retreat. She received
what to her was “a clear cut and specific call from the Lord to serve Him among
the poorest of the poor and to be a messenger of His love.”
After a two-year period of deep prayer for discernment of the true will of God,
Teresa in 1948 was given the blessing of God and Pope Pius XII to dispense with her Loreto vows and to begin her back-breaking selfless work in the slums donning her now familiar white sari with blue border.

With less than five rupees in her pocket, “with no hospice, no food
kitchen, no helpers, nothing but her trust in God,” boundless faith, courage
and enthusiasm she set out doing “something beautiful for God” as she nursed the sick and the dying lovingly cleansing their maggot-infested
wounds. This was because she saw only “Christ in a distressing disguise” in every human being she assisted. Thus her greatest joy was serving Jesus in
His varied images on earth.

Mother Teresa and her followers would collect the dying from the street
to receive loving care and respect until they died. In this way those who
lived like “animals in the gutter” were enabled to “die like angels.” It is no
wonder she was called the Saint of the Gutters. They also rescued abandoned
newborn babies from garbage heaps, seeking out the diseased, those hurt
with wounds often maggot-bloated. They did this because they saw themselves as serving Jesus. “As long as you did it for one of these, the least of My brothers, you did it for Me.”

In time Mother Teresa who for years toiled in obscurity was “discovered” by the world and was bestowed with innumerable awards the most notable being the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress. When she received the Nobel award she asked for no lavish banquet – only money which she gave at a Christmas banquet to more than 2,000 people of Calcutta. To this day no other saint has achieved her global popularity.
Although now widely regarded as a “living saint” she remained remarkably humble saying “we can do no great things only small things with great love.” This is what we were put on earth to do: “love someone apparently unlovable, unwanted or rejected – something beautiful for God.” It is said that “no woman in modern times has left a mark quite like that of Mother Teresa of Calcutta” and she did it by doing just simple things that had an extraordinary impact.


We pray our work by doing it with Jesus, by doing for Jesus and by doing
it to Jesus. Pray that we may be able to spread the love and compassion of Christ throughout the world. It is you and I who have to do it, each one in our own way, in our own place. But let us begin in our own homes first and then with our neighbor.

We all thirst for the love of others. Love begins at home and then it
spreads out. Enjoy the joy of sharing, of giving, of loving until it hurts. This is the meaning of true love. Do we love until it hurts or
do we put our own interest first? Today there is much suffering in the world
and it is all due to being unloved and unwanted and unkept … people having no
time. This neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. We must all be missionaries of charity, carriers of God’s love. Keep the joy of loving God in your heart
and share this joy with all you meet, especially your family. When asked how to bring peace and joy to the world, Mother Teresa as a “manifestation of her loving resolve to be ‘an apostle of joy’” said, “Smile at each other. Let the husband smile at the wife, the wife at the husband, (make time for the family) be lovingly thoughtful, tender and gentle in our own home. This is what will bring peace and joy into the world. Accept your children, love them, be happy to be with your children, give your time to them.” Jesus gave up everything to do the Father’s will – to show us that we too must be willing to give up everything to do God’s will. “True love gives until it hurts.” You are a liar if you say you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see. “Are we Christ’s love in action?”

It is said that Mother Teresa’s greatest contribution to society was the
“conscientization” of the world that more than poverty and disease, it was the lack of love and acceptance that was plaguing our society.”

On September 5, 1997 Mother Teresa “quietly slipped out of the gutters of Calcutta to her well-merited mansion in heaven.”

As published in the January 22 issue of the Parish Bulletin.