"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

St. Teresa of Calcutta: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

St. Teresa of Calcutta, founder
of the Missionaries of Charity, was
beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in 2003 and
canonized a saint by Pope Francis in 2016.
She is pictured in a 1979 photo. (CNS photo/KNA)
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” This saying has been attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, who was born on 26 August 1910 at Skopje in Macedonia. To me her life is reminiscent of the First Principle and Foundation (FP&F) of the Spiritual Exercises written by St. Ignatius of Loyola five hundred years ago. In a terse statement, it says that we are created to praise, reverence and serve our ever-present God and Lord, and by these means to achieve our eternal well-being (SE 23). From this, one sets out on a spiritual path of using one's freedom, ever growing it, in order to advance towards the end who is God and be attuned towards His Divine will. The ideal disposition to aspire for is the holy indifference towards all created things, in so far as, we are fixed on the end. My favorite image to illustrate the FP&F is like a keystone for moral and spiritual growth—an almost architectural blueprint of the spiritual life.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, one spoke of her earthly life as ‘God’s pencil’ in the hand of God. Like a pencil that is perfectly attuned to the mind of the one using it, so was St. Teresa towards God. Starting when she first joined the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland at age 18, she went about doing things with great love. She received the name Sister Mary Teresa, after St Thérèse of Lisieux. In 1931 she was assigned to the order’s Calcutta house and taught at their school there where she eventually became headmistress.

In 1948 she left the convent after receiving a new "calling" within a calling to help the poor and destitute. It entailed living a radical life with and caring for the abandoned and neglected in India whom she found lying sick in the street or even dying of starvation. Her influence spread like wildfire throughout the world.