Pope Francis has announced that Mother Teresa will attain Sainthood on Sept. 4, 2016, only a mere 19 years after her death in 1997, an unusual occurrence due to the rigid rules concerning the elapse of time before a person’s candidacy can be examined. Specific steps must be taken during this process.
Mother Teresa - Wikimedia
Steps to Becoming a Saint
1. The life of the candidate for sainthood is examined thoroughly. Once the person is deemed worthy by the Vatican, the candidate is called a “Servant of God.” Breaking with tradition, Pope John Paul II allowed the beatification examination process involving Mother Teresa to begin less than two years after her death rather than waiting the mandated five years.
2. Proof of the candidate’s virtue. An advocate for the candidate must prove that he or she lived a life of heroic virtue. Aspects of the candidate’s character are examined, including categories such as knowledge and humility, strength of convictions, courage, unity, forgiveness and social justice. The documentation is then passed on to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome who may then declare that the candidate has earned the title of "Venerable."
3. A required miracle. In order for a candidate to be beatified, one miracle must be proven, following which the candidate receives the title of “Blessed.” In 2003, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa after the Vatican recognized a miracle when an Indian woman prayed for a healing to Mother Teresa and a tumor in her abdomen disappeared.
4. A second miracle. For canonization, a second miracle is required after beatification, although the Pope may waive this requirement. Once a second miracle has been authenticated through the candidate’s intercession, the Pope can declare the candidate a “Saint.” The Vatican announced in December 2015 that the healing of a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumors, attributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa, was approved as a miracle by Pope Francis.
The Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata canonization ceremony is scheduled to take place in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Sept. 4, 2016.
Missionaries of Charity - Wikimedia
Life of Mother Teresa
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Yugoslavia, which is now Macedonia. Her parents were Albanian and devout Catholics. In 1919, when Agnes was eight years old, her father became very ill and died. Agnes was close to her mother, a religious and compassionate woman who instilled in Agnes a strong commitment to charity. Mrs. Bojaxhiu always invited someone of the city’s destitute to share dinner with them each night.
A Call to the Religious Life
When Agnes was 12 years old, she felt a calling to a religious life. Six years later, in 1928, Agnes decided to become a nun and traveled to Ireland to join the Sisters of Loreto in Dublin. She took the name Sister Mary Teresa after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
When Sister Mary Teresa completed her novitiate, she was sent to Calcutta, where she was assigned to teach at Saint Mary's High School for Girls, a school run by the Loreto Sisters and dedicated to teaching girls from the city's poorest Bengali families. She dedicated herself to alleviating the girls' poverty through education.
When the Loreto Sisters made their final vows, it was their custom to assume the title of “Mother.” From that point on, Agnes was “Mother Teresa.” In 1944, she became the principal of St. Mary’s High School.
Mother Teresa - Wikimedia
Mother Teresa’s Second Calling
Mother Teresa taught in India for 17 years before she experienced her "call within a call" to devote herself to caring for the sick and poor. This “second calling” occurred in September 1946. She often looked out the windows of St. Mary’s and felt pity for the homeless people who walked the streets there. One day, when she was on a train riding to a retreat, she experienced Christ speaking to her, telling her to abandon teaching to work in the slums of Calcutta ministering to the city's poorest and sickest people.
The Order of the Missionaries of Charity
Under her vow of obedience, Mother Teresa could not leave her convent without permission. In 1948, after many attempts, she finally received approval from her superiors to pursue this new calling. In August, she took on the blue-and-white sari that has symbolized her ever since, and wore it in public for the rest of her life. Leaving the Loreto convent, she wandered through the city. After acquiring six months of basic medical training, she made Calcutta's slums her home, in search of "the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for." She started a school and a home for the dying destitute in an unused building which she persuaded the city government to donate to her cause. Her congregation, called the Order of the Missionaries of Charities, consisted of women dedicated to helping the poor. It was formalized in 1950 with just a few members at first who were former teachers and pupils from St. Mary’s High School.
Medal of Freedom from Pres. Reagan - Wikimedia
Mother Teresa’s Works
Mother Teresa was known as the "saint of the gutter" for her unconditional love for the poor, the abandoned, and the marginalized. She received donations from all over India which aided her in setting up a leper colony, a hospice, an orphanage, a nursing home, soup kitchens, a family clinic and several mobile health clinics, in addition to centers for the blind, aged, and disabled. Her first American house of charity was opened in New York City in 1971. Mother Teresa earned several international honors including the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to her in 1979 for her humanitarian work. She returned to New York in 1985 when she was asked to speak at the 40th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly.
Her Dark Night of the Soul
It wasn’t until after her death, with the publication of her private correspondence in 2003, that it was revealed that she had undergone a crisis of faith for the last 50 years of her life, during which she experienced only darkness and emptiness. Rather than being a denial of her saintliness, her trial has served to bring her closer to many people who have experienced doubts about their own beliefs.
Nobel Peace Prize Medal - Wikimedia
Mother Teresa’s Death
Mother Teresa had several years in which her health deteriorated; she suffered much from heart, lung, and kidney problems. Death came to her on September 5, 1997 when she was 87 years old. At the time of her death, the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 4000 plus thousands of lay volunteers. She had established 610 foundations in 123 countries around the world.
Pray to Mother Teresa
Pope Francis had met Mother Teresa more than two decades ago while he was Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina. He always admired her ministry as well as her fearlessness in speaking out on behalf of society’s outcasts. During this holy time, pray to Mother Teresa for your own special needs. She is close to God and will speak for you as she did for the two persons who asked her for a miracle in their illnesses.
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