Sunday, September 4, 2016 will forever be a day in history with the canonization of Mother Teresa, proclaiming her a saint. In an era where it seems religious affiliation or practice only seems to be dwindling, it is awe-inspiring to know people of our time have walked amongst a saint. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (as she is still being referred to by Pope Francis and the public) is proof that there is still so much good in this world — so much love amongst hate, so much charity amongst selfishness, so much faith amongst restlessness. Though it has been 19 years since she was eternally called to the Lord, her lasting inspiration continues to remind and refocus us on the importance of love, charity, and faith. In honor of the canonization of the "Saint of the Gutters," here are 9 of Mother Teresa's most important and timeless lessons.
1. "Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world."
We live in such a fast-paced world, where it is easy to become distracted. So long as we are distracted and consumed in "developments," we risk sacrificing our values of peace, love, and togetherness.
2. "Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."
Mother Teresa had the ability to warm one's heart with only a smile. Despite any circumstances, all she wanted was to make those around her feel loved. Without uttering a word, a smile has the ability to allow a person to feel loved in ways simple words could never achieve. Sometimes all a person could ever want or need is a smile from another loving face.
3. "It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters."
Mother Teresa never set out to make history or leave a legacy, but rather to help in whatever way possible. Instead of setting out to change the world, we can start by purely giving our love to others in ways they need it most.
4. "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier."
This is one of my personal favorites. The world we live in is competitive and self-interested ... and harsh. But if each of us could adopt this mentality — to radiate goodness to the world, to spread only love to those around us — how could it not become a better place?
5. "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."
No action is too little, no action is insignificant. Imagine if Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity thought this way. Any time a person is contributing to the love, happiness, and good of humanity, the world has been given an invaluable gift. You have immediately made the world better than it was prior.
6. "In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love."
Instead of striving for one outstanding accomplishment, we should be actively living with the intention of our lives themselves being the outstanding accomplishment. When we have all done "small things with great love," well, I would say that is in fact a "great thing."
7. “I call, I cling, I want, and there is no one to answer ... Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness …”
Although often overlooked, this is actually one of the most inspiring aspects of Mother Teresa's life. We seem to imagine proclaimed saints must have lived perfect lives with an unwavering relationship with God. However, saints are human — just like the rest of us. Their faith has "peaks" but also "pits." She experienced periods where she felt alone, unanswered, and abandoned. Many of us experience these "pits" as well. And that is the beauty. Mother Teresa did not accept this as God's lack of existence (though she may have struggled with this) or motivation to retire her faith. Instead, she continued to work on her relationship with God and persisted with her work of charity.
8. "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."
And you can't deny that her faith is just too — for lack of better words — cute! It is such an intimate and personal relationship between herself and God. She is so humbled when it comes to her vocation and God's calling upon her to heal this wounded world. Meanwhile, she has faith in the Lord that He has entrusted her with work He knows she can accomplish.
9. “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.”
Never did Mother Teresa hold herself as better than anyone else — though she really is beyond this earthly world! She teaches us that we all contribute unique necessities to this world and we all can benefit from togetherness. Alone, we are incapable of achieving our ultimate potential. But together ... that is when we are unstoppable.