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The Canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta in Vatican City


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
– Saint Teresa of Calcutta

 

Mother Teresa - A painting by Mark Sanislo
Mother Teresa – A painting by Mark Sanislo

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Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the “nun of the gutters”, a champion for the poor, the dying and the unborn died on September 5, 1997.

Scarcely two years after her death Monsignor Henry D’Souza, the then Archbishop of Calcutta, requested Pope John Paul II to dispense with the five-year waiting period required before beginning the process of beatifying and canonizing Mother Teresa.

As a fitting climax to a process that stretched on for almost 19 years, Pope Francis on Sunday, September 4, 2016, a day before Mother Teresa’s 19th death anniversary, formally declared  Mother Teresa, as the newest saint of the Catholic Church at a ceremony that drew 100,000 pilgrims from around the world to St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

For the honour of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta be saint and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole Church. In the name of the Holy Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis, however, acknowledged that despite the fact she now has a formal title as “Saint Teresa of Calcutta“, she will always remain “Mother Teresa” to the world. The pontiff said:

“We may have some difficulty in calling her ‘Saint’ Teresa, her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continue to spontaneously call her “Mother”. She made her voice heard before the powers of this world so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes of poverty they created.”

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Let Us Celebrate the 64th Annual Human Rights Day on December 10, 2012


“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” – Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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My Voice Counts, Human Rights Day - 1

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During the Second World War, the allies adopted the following Four Freedoms, as their basic war aims:

      • Freedom of speech
      • Freedom of religion
      • Freedom from fear
      • Freedom from want

The United Nations Charter “reaffirmed faith in fundamental human rights, and dignity and worth of the human person” and committed all member states to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

After the Second World War, the world became aware of the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany. The world community concurred that the United Nations Charter did not sufficiently define the rights it referenced above. Hence arose the necessity for an universal declaration that specified the rights of individuals to give effect to the Charter’s provisions on human rights.

At the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on 4 December 1950, the members decided to celebrate Human Rights Day on December 10 every year because on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was the first worldwide proclamation of human rights, and also one of the major achievements of the new United Nations. The General Assembly declared resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day.

Traditionally, on December 10th, the five-yearly United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights and Nobel Peace Prize are awarded.

This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people – women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized and to make their voices heard in public life and to include them in political decision-making.

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Some facts about Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.


Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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“By blood, I am Albanian.
By citizenship, an Indian.
By faith, I am a Catholic nun.
As to my calling, I belong to the world.
As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is a household name in India and in many other countries for her good works. But many people don’t know much about her other than that she was “a nun who helped the poor.”

Here are some facts about this most humble servant of God.

Born on August 26, 1910, in Albania. She was baptized as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.  She considered 27 August, the day she was baptized, to be her “true birthday”.

When she was a little girl, her family lived in one of the two houses owned by her father.  When she was 8 years old her father died, ending their family’s financial security.

Agnes was interested with missionaries from an early age. When she was 12, she was bent on committing herself to a religious vocation.

At the age of 18, she left home and joined the Sisters of Loretto in Rathfarnham, Ireland on May 23, 1929.

Although she lived to be 87 years old, she never saw her mother or sister again after the day she left for Ireland.

After learning English for an year in Ireland, she got transferred to the convent of Sisters of Loretto in Darjeeling, India.

She took her vows as a nun in 1931. She chose the name Teresa – to honour Saints Therese of Lisieux and Teresa of Avila.

Painting of Saint Therese of Lisieux by Leonard Porter

Agnes was allured by Therese of Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, as well as the patron saint of florists, AIDS sufferers and others.

St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)

Teresa of Avila is the patron saint of people in religious orders, lacemakers, Spain and more.

Teresa began teaching history and geography in Calcutta at St. Mary’s, a high school for the daughters of the wealthy. She remained there for 15 years and enjoyed the work, but was distressed by the poverty she saw all around her.

In 1946, Teresa traveled to Darjeeling for a retreat. It was on that journey that she realized what her true calling was:

I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.

It took two years of preparation before she was able to begin doing the work she felt compelled to do. She needed permission from the Sisters of Loretto to leave the order – while retaining her vows – as well as permission from the Archbishop of Calcutta to live and work among the poor. She also prepared herself for the hard task by following a course in nursing.

In 1948, Teresa set aside her nun’s habit and adapted her clothing to a simple sari and sandals, as worn by the women she would be living among. To begin her work, she moved into a small rented hovel in the slums of Calcutta.

Having been used to a life of comparative comfort, Teresa’s first year in the slums was particularly hard. She had no income and had to beg for food and supplies. She was often tempted to return to her earlier life in the convent. But she was a determined soul  and relied on her faith in God to get herself through all adversities.

One of her first projects was to teach the children of the poor. All that she had as a tool was her experience gained by teaching the children of the rich. To begin with she did not have any equipment, teaching aids  or supplies. She taught the children of the poor to read using books, and to write by writing on the dirt with sticks.

In addition to promoting literacy, Teresa taught the children basic hygiene. She visited their families and inquired about their needs. Helped them with provisions when she could.

Soon, word began to spread about Teresa’s good works. She had other volunteers wanting to help.

By 1950, she was able to start the Mission of Charity – a congregation dedicated to caring for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people who had become a burden to the society and shunned by everyone.”

She opened a hospice for the poor, a home for sufferers of leprosy, and a home for orphans and homeless youth.

Mother Teresa was honoured with many awards throughout her life – from the Indian Padma Shri in 1962 to the inaugural Pope John XXIII Peace Prize in 1971 to Albania’s Golden Honour of the Nation in 1994 and, most famously, the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

She refused the traditional Nobel honour banquet, instead requested that the $192K funds be given to help the poor of India.

She continued her work with the poor for the rest of her life, leading the Missionaries of Charity until just months before her death on September 5, 1997.

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