Agnes was born in Albania, but most of her life was spent in India. She was a nun in the Loreto Congregation, but her Master, Jesus, wanted her to start a new congregation to help those people who were struggling to get even a piece of bread. She used to draw spiritual water from the Jesuit Fathers, but today Agnes stands as a model to the Jesuits in living the Ignatian way of life. That Agnes is none other than St. Teresa of Calcutta. She was a woman, whose deeds followed her words, who lived Ignatius’ prayer for generosity.
1.”Lord, teach me to be generous.”
Agnes, who later changed her name to Teresa, was a nun in the Loreto Congregation. Though she was from Albania, she did not look back while serving the Lord. Her vision was clear and her conviction was strong. Hence, we know that she became an Indian, leaving behind all her possessions.
2.” Teach me to Love and Serve You ’as You deserve’.”
Teresa’s heart began to melt when she saw a man in a gutter, fighting for his life. Her ship changed its direction. She left the Congregation and started ‘The Missionaries of Charity’, a new Congregation. She loved and served the lepers, the orphan children and very many others. She served them as if she was serving her Master, Jesus.
- “To give and not to count the cost.”
She lived her vow of poverty. All her so-called ‘possessions’ then were the people, who were very poor and those who had no idea of how to continue living. She gave not only her belongings but herself to their service. However, she never sought for any name or fame. Where are we today? “How is our desire to choose Poverty with Christ poor rather than wealth?”(Sp.Ex-167)
- “To fight and not to heed the wounds.”
Once a man asked Mother Teresa whether she was involved in conversion work. The answer was something unusual and unexpected. “Yes,” she said, “I do convert people-Hindus to be better Hindus, Christians to be better Christians and Muslims
to be better Muslims.” By this she founded the religion of love under the inspiration of her Master, Jesus. She respected each human person, no matter to which religion he or she belonged. She fought and did not heed the wounds.
- “To toil and not to seek for rest.”
“She rose, she prayed, she served.” Everyday Jesus began His daily ministry only after He finished speaking to the Father. So it was with Mother Teresa. Her spiritual strength made her work and serve all day long. For her, service was first; rest was last. Jesuits are known to be Contemplatives (even) in action. Wherever we are, our mission is first, then rest. We are in the ‘Society of Jesus’ to serve with LOVE and “Love ought to manifest itself more in deeds than words.”(Sp.Ex-230)
- “To labour and look for no reward.”
Her works were tremendous. She is one among those women who showed that even a woman can be a model for men. Rightly she received many awards and honours for her selfless work. When awards came and honours increased, she continued doing the routine selfless work for the left-out people. We pledged ourselves to choose Poverty, Contempt and Humility and, most of all, to be the servants of all. It is good for us to learn something from Mother Teresa’s life.
- “Except that of knowing, that I do Your holy will.”
‘They should be frequently urged to seek God in all things, transcending the attraction of all creatures, to set their hearts wholly on the Creator, loving Him in all creatures and them all in Him, according to His most holy and divine will.’(Const:288) Mother Teresa sought or desired just to know God’s will and to work for it. She pleased God first, then his creatures. Discerning God’s will sometimes seems difficult for us, but the happiness behind that only persons like Mother Teresa knew. She tasted the Lord and said that He was good. More than 200 times the words ‘God’s will’ are repeated in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, so that we may become aware that all our intentions, actions and operations (Sp. Ex. 46) are for His will.
Mother Teresa’s life teaches us that we can, as Jesuits, militants of the Society of Jesus, are not called to sail along the sea shore but to row into the deep sea. The zeal for God’s service should tempt or inspire us to keep one foot raised always. All that matters is not what we were or what we are, but having a strong conviction of our vocation to the universal Society of Jesus. Once upon a time, Jesuits were the spiritual Fathers for Mother Teresa, but today she stands as a model for us to lead a better Jesuit life. Why cannot we ask: If a simple Agnes could become that, why not I?
By -Sch Royster Monis SJ