By: Lemuel Sandoval
Her name is synonymous with Christian service and compassion: Teresa of Calcutta. She was born on August 26, 1910, in Macedonia, although her name was Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. As a child, she liked listening to the stories of the missionaries who worked in India. At 12 years of age God called her to service, and when she turned 18, she went to a convent in Ireland. As is the custom among nuns, she changed her name (to Teresa). In 1930 she went to Calcutta, India, where she served as a teacher. But some fifteen years later, while she was traveling on a retreat, she felt the call of God. In Teresa’s words, she “had to leave the convent and help the poor by living among them. It was an order. To not do so would have been to break faith.”
Teresa of Calcutta wrote a prayer that she said daily. This prayer inspires us to act in such a way that our acts of love and service to other people make them see Jesus himself.
help me to spread your fragrance
everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and love.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly
that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me and be so in me
that every soul I come in contact with
may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me,
but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin
to shine as you shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others.”
As the world well knows, Teresa of Calcutta spread the fragrance of Jesus in the streets of the slums of Calcutta. After receiving medical training and attaining Indian citizenship, Teresa went on to minister to the poor and needy of the city. Soon she was joined by more women who in 1950 would found one of the largest humanitarian aid organizations. The Missionaries of Charity today have more than 5,000 volunteers serving in 139 countries; they have founded orphanages, schools and homes for people living with HIV/AIDS, the blind, disabled, alcoholics, drug addicts, street children, refugees, and disaster victims. Other organizations have sprung up inspired by the work of Teresa of Calcutta and her mission to spread the fragrance of Jesus wherever they go.