He advised her to write about everything she experienced and felt in her heart to the local bishop, “with the confidence of a child speaking to her father”.
Mother did. In that letter she wrote, “From childhood the Heart of Jesus has been my first love.” Indeed for all of her young life before leaving home to join the Loreto Sisters, her home parish in Skopje was dedicated to the Sacred Heart.
More than once in media interviews, when questioned about who she really was, Mother replied,
“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.”
This devotion to the Heart of Jesus led Mother to understand and to somehow experience the great ‘thirst’ of Jesus for love and for souls. That two-word sentence uttered by the Saviour as he hung on the Cross struck Mother Teresa to the core.
She insisted that in every Missionaries of Charity house, underneath the crucifix in their chapel, those two words should be written in large print.
This sharing in the Lord’s desire, his ‘thirst’, for souls seems to have featured early in her life and is inextricably bound with the Eucharist. In that letter I mentioned she also wrote, “From the age of five and a half years, when I first received Him, the love for souls has been within. It grew with the years.”
And as well as taking care of the corporal needs of those she cared for, Mother always tried to touch them with the love of God. Recently Bishop John Keenan of Paisley related how he met Mother Teresa when he was a seminarian. As they sat together for a few minutes, he recalled that Mother ‘evangelised’ him. She also advised him that he should ask his seminary rector to let the students have Eucharistic Adoration EVERY evening, not just once a week!
In all her worldwide travels, Mother Teresa only ever brought with her one little cotton handbag (it had wooden handles). Travelling with her, I was constantly amazed at what seemed to appear out of that small bag! I laughed to myself that it was a bit like a Mary Poppins magical bag! At one moment she would bring out her prayer book.
Then she would always have paper and pen for writing to her sisters when she was on the move.
As my colleague and I took Mother and Sister Marie-Celine to an airport to catch a flight to her next engagement, someone had obviously tipped off “just a friend or two” (who in turn all tipped off their friends!) that Mother would be passing through the airport at such a time.
Well, the poor woman was mobbed! I thought how vulnerable this little lady looked with the crowds pressing in on her.
But Mother didn’t bat an eyelid. She put her hand into her bag. And for the next fifteen or twenty minutes as she worked her way through the pressing throng, she handed out Miraculous Medals to everyone.
Afterwards my colleague and I laughed about how many medals could that little bag possibly have held.
I remembered Our Lord and the loaves and fishes!
In her ‘evangelisation’ of me, Mother took a prayer card and pen out of the famous bag. On one side was printed a “Prayer of Abandonment”. On the other side (in the pictue) Mother Teresa wrote in her own firm handwriting,
Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me. I love you.
God bless you, M Teresa, MC.
I have always treasured that little note and the words of the prayer.
Now I have in my prayer book a relic of a saint!
Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.
Jim Gallagher is the author of CTS biography Mother Teresa, Life of the famous “saint of Calcutta”