A Little Pencil in His Hand

News coming out of the Archdiocese of Chicago has been horribly ugly and disgusting, especially since Cardinal Blase Cupich reminded us that there is a “bigger agenda” to give attention to. Reading some of the news reports of incidents coming from his archdiocese caused my throat to constrict and my chest to feel very heavy. I came home not wanting to focus on “Chicago Concupiscence.” To be fair to Chicago, it’s happening in other U.S. cities as well.

My salvation as I write this blog is realizing that today is the feast day of one of our newer saints: St. Teresa of Kolkata. She was canonized two years ago yesterday. Most of you readers lived during part of the time that Mother Teresa, born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, August 26, 1910, in Skopje, in present-day Macedonia. then part of the Ottoman Empire, had her ministry. She left home at the age of 18, the last time she saw her mother, for Ireland, and from there went to India. Already a Roman Catholic nun in 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity and she and her sisters ministered to the least of the least in the city of Kolkata for the rest of her life. Today there are more than 4,500 religious sisters serving throughout the world.

Our dear friends, Matt and Laurie, volunteered with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India, for a month in 2015. It was that experience that began to lead them into the Catholic Church. I met with Matt soon after their return and asked him if he had seen the face of the Jesus in the poor. His experience there was life-changing, and our conversation impacted me greatly as well as I was already on my journey to the Church.

Mother Teresa was a small woman in stature, but mighty in faith and action. In one of the last interviews she gave, the reporter asked about her role in the work of the Missionaries of Charity. She answered, “I don’t claim anything of the work. It’s His work. I’m like a little pencil in His hand. That’s all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used.”

Mother did so much of her work off the world stage, but occasionally she found herself in a very public setting such as receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and in 1994 speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast with then President Bill Clinton present.

Mother Teresa died September 5, 1997, less than a week after the death of Princess Diana, whose passing captured worldwide attention, putting less focus on the saint’s death, as she probably would have wanted.

Here are some of Mother Teresa’s statements that still ring true 21 years after her death.

  • “If you can’t do great things, do little things with great love. If you can’t do them with great love, do them with a little love. If you can’t do them with a little love, do them anyway.”
  • “If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.”
  • “Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”
  • “Abortion kills twice. It kills the body of the baby and it kills the conscience of the mother. Abortion is profoundly anti-women. Three quarters of its victims are women: Half the babies and all the mothers.”

St. Teresa of Kolkata, pray for us! Pray for our Church! Pray for our prelates! Pray for our Holy Father!

  • “My prayer for you that you may grow in holiness because Jesus very clearly said, ‘Be holy as the Father of heaven is holy.’ And holiness is not the luxury of the few. It is a simple duty for you and for me. That is right. We have made one strong resolution: I will, I will with God’s blessing, be holy. This is my prayer for you that you grow in holiness to want that love for one another, and by sharing this love with all you know.” — Mother Teresa at the 1992 States Dinner of the Knights of Columbus.

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