The very first time I caught a glimpse of Mother Teresa was when she walked quietly past me in the chapel just before Mass began. My heart soared to see her. She was so small in stature, but I knew without a doubt that she was a powerhouse of faith, hope, and love.
I was visiting the Missionaries of Charity chapel with my family because the Sisters had invited us to their private Mass in Washington DC after we had spent some time with the patients in their Home of the Dying.
As I kept watch over my children and was trying to focus my heart on the Mass that was about to begin, I felt a strong holy presence come beside me. I quickly glanced to my left and there she was—the hero of the poorest of the poor walking quietly right past me in her bare feet! While I was certainly excited that we would be united in prayer together at holy Mass, I told myself to get my mind back on the Mass that would soon start—never mind the fact that a living saint was in my midst!
Mass was very beautifully celebrated in the modest chapel as earnest prayers from dozens of holy virgins’ hearts ascended to God like wafting aromatic incense. I felt incredibly blessed that my family was in the presence of so many saints in the making—the priest, Mother Teresa, and all of the Missionaries of Charity Sisters. But, I was also keenly convinced that Mother Teresa was already quite saintly and that she had been ardently and wholeheartedly following God’s holy will in her life in taking care of the poorest of the poor all around the world.
That morning, kneeling there on the hard, bare floor for Mass, I had no clue—not even a whisper of an inkling—that an unimaginable friendship between me, a suburban housewife, and a world-renowned missionary of the poor would soon unfold through nearly two dozen personal letters and more than a dozen additional face-to-face meetings.
After Mass, I was privileged with a beautiful and unforgettable conversation with that humble Nobel Peace Prize recipient as we stood together in the convent’s foyer. Mother Teresa took the time to reach out to my family and gave us each a blessed Miraculous Medal along with her blessings. When we bid our good-byes, my children and I gave her warm hugs. She, in turn, hugged us back and asked for our prayers before parting our company.
Over the next ten years, I learned so much from Mother Teresa as I relished in family joys—bringing two more children into the world—as well as tried to navigate through some arduous and challenging times in my life. Mother Teresa’s instructions to me always echoed in my heart. Her loving encouragement pushed me onward to strive to continue to put one foot in front of the other to walk in faith and to trust God with my life.
In time, I endeavored to pass on the blessings and wisdom that I received from that humble servant of the Lord through my writings and talks. Mother Teresa has so much to teach us. She emphasized that “Love begins at home.” We absolutely need to take care of our families before running out to try and change the world. She said we should strive to find times of silence for prayer even in our noisy world. She encouraged us all to a life of prayer and holiness, saying, “Holiness is not the luxury of a few, but a simple duty for you and me.”
Mother Teresa made it quite clear that it was necessary for her to receive the broken bread of Jesus in the Eucharist every morning for strength to do her work in taking care of the broken bodies of the poor. Her simple yet powerful one-on-one approach of meeting each need that unfolded before her teaches us to do the same—to not lose opportunities to serve Jesus in others and to pray and trust God, asking him to use us to bring others to him.
Take the time to pause, ponder, and strive to apply the beautiful lessons from Mother Teresa to your own life. With God’s grace, and Mother Teresa’s help, you can “make your life something beautiful for God,” as this spirited saint was famous for saying.