Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. -Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
To this day, these words are some of the only I have memorized and remembered. (My husband always gives me a hard time about how badly I remember song lyrics, even to classics and nursery rhymes.) This quote from Mother Teresa touched me deeply when I was a young teen, (and she was still living!), and I’ve kept them in my heart since.
I cried in disbelief when a classmate told me she’d died.
I’ve watched with excitement and joy as the Church beatified and will soon canonize this amazing woman. For the second time in my life, a living saint I “knew” during their life on earth is to be canonized and added to our official list of saints in heaven! This is so exciting!
There are so many reasons to love and admire Blessed Teresa. I hope you’ll share yours in the comments. Here are my top reasons for having her as one of my heavenly “BFFs”, my mentor, my sister in Christ.
She listened with courage. You’ve heard of her “call within a call”. She answered God’s call to religious life, and then within that calling, she heard God asking her to reach out to the poorest of the poor. With great courage, she listened and said, “Yes” and from her yes, the world is a better place.
She sets an example of living with great love and simple acts. Like St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Teresa taught that we should do small things with great love. I also love the advice to start changing the world by serving those closest to us. Can’t join the Missionaries of Charity? Not a problem. Give to those in your own city, parish, neighborhood, family.
Blessed Teresa constantly spoke of loving those closest to us. Want to bring peace to the world? Go home and love your family. Want to make a difference? Love your family. Then move to your neighbor, and so on. It is the best advice for moms! These people in our homes *are* our mission field.
Finally, it all begins in prayer. Prayer is life-giving, and without prayer, our other acts will fall short. With prayer and God’s grace, we can change the world, as she did.
Now, how are we going to celebrate this woman of great love and courage?
I’ll spend a week or so before her canonization reading books to my children (even the older two!). Reading the stories will help us get to know her before the big day. These two are beautiful choices.
Stories Told by Mother Teresa (apparently now out of print! Look in your library for it.)
She’s is a great example of works of mercy, and being in the Year of Mercy still, we’ll talk about mercy in action, and how we can follow her example. Again, since she talked so much of loving your family, this is accessible for children! Lord knows we all need to work on loving our families more, and any opportunity to work on that purposefully (like now, in imitation of a great saint), is worth taking advantage of.
You can find her birthplace, Macedonia, on the map, and then find India on the map. Show some pictures of Calcutta to your family so they can see where Mother Teresa worked and lived.
**edited to add** There are some beautiful coloring pages you can print at Look to Him and Be Radiant. I’m going to print some for us.
On her canonization day, we’ll have food! (Actually, we’re going to celebrate with friends! Another family in our parish is setting up a potluck celebration. You can do this, too. What a great way to build community in faith by celebrating a new saint!) A Macedonian dish in honor of her birthplace is an option, as are any traditional simple Indian dishes. Naan, rice, curry, garbanzo beans are all going to be tasty. For a treat, try a mango lassi.
I already painted a peg doll of this favorite soon-to-be Saint! She is a simple saint to paint, with a clean white sari and three blue stripes. This would be a fun craft to do with your children.
As a work of love, write a letter to a friend or family member who could use a little more happiness right now. For a work of mercy, donate food to the food pantry, offer a “mercy bag” or bottle of water and a smile and kind greeting to a homeless person (we often see the homeless on corners in the city near where we live. Carrying a bag prepped with granola bars, socks, hand sanitizer, and water is one way to make a small change in someone’s life.) Practice kindness to your family members. Pray for the unborn, and for world leaders.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!