Mother Teresa Canonisation: For many, she was always a saint


Mother’s calling to serve the poor of the poorest: She heard the voice of God in a train while travelling to Darjelling  to serve in the slums of Kolkata in the year 1948. The voice was so powerful that she came to Kolkata and rented a house out of Rs.5/ which was the amount given by the Convent she left. She started the missionary work at lower Circular Road-Kolkata which is the present head quarter of Missionaries of Charity with two men out of whom one died another ran away. The house belonged to one Mr. Gomes.


Mother's perevarence in the city of joy: But Mother persevered and remained committed to the voice she had heard and serving Jesus whom she saw in every human face and lovingly embraced. The environment in which the Mother worked was made open by a video clip that was sent where cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu went to donate money for Mother’s Missionaries of Charity. Their testimony was that one of them vomited as he could not stand the smell and stink of the slum where Mother Teresa operated from. When they had placed a donation of Rs.10, 000/= (ten thousand) or so, the Mother showed no interest and allowed the money to rest on the table and told the lads “I don’t want money, I want people to work with me.” A businessman who hated Christians spat on the palm of the Mother as she opened them to ask help for those whom she served. She wiped it in front of him and said: “this one was for me, what are you giving for God?” The man was ashamed and with clasped hands apologized and promised mother a fixed amount that she could send someone to collect every month from him.


Mother's canonisation only a formality & a ritual - for them she was already a saint:  As the canonization takes place on Sunday 4th September 2016 for her admirers it is only a formality and a ritual that was pending, as for them she was already a Saint who moved the streets and by lanes of  Kolkata as a God appointed Angel who saw the face of Jesus in every suffering human being irrespective of caste, colour, religion or race.


Mother had critics too: Mother Teresa who is to be canonized on Sunday 4th September 2016 at the Vatican by the Pope faced criticism too. Accepting indiscriminate help for her mission has been used by her critics against her. British Journalist Christopher Hitchens has been most vocal in this regard. In a documentary titled ‘Hell’s Angel – Mother Teresa of Calcutta’ Hitchens questioned Mother Teresa’s meetings and closeness with certain political heads of states and business tycoons of questionable repute. Hitchen’s allegations are echoed by Indian rationalist Sanal Edamaruku in an article wrote “Mother Teresa did not serve the poor in Calcutta; she served the rich in the West. She helped them to overcome their bad conscience by taking billions of dollars from them.”

Her biographer Navin B. Chawla admits that in all likelihood, she did meet Michelle Duvalier and admits that whoever could do her work, she would go there and try and get work done not for herself but her poor. To all her critics her response was that “whoever the donors may be, they have a right to give in charity and I have no right to judge them. God will judge them.”

Journalist Malcolm Muggerridge saw the beautiful devotional side of the Mother and wrote a book titled “Something beautiful for God.”

Another writer and journalist Mihir Bose whom Hitchens interviewed in the film felt Mother Teresa “accepted implicitly that there’s nothing you can do for the poor except take them off the streets and look after them. You cannot change their attitude, you cannot make them feel that they have the ability or the means to improve and change their lives.”

Foreign physicians and volunteers who visited the Missionaries of Charity homes in Kolkata have written of poor medical care provided there and inability to distinguish between curable and incurable diseases. But Mother’s supporters have this to say: “it is their lack of understanding of their mission.” Her biographer Navin Chawla admits that it is difficult to justify her religious non-acceptance of abortion and birth control measures.


Mother's views on conversion:  So deeply religious though the Mother never tried to convert anyone in terms of religion, she was rather more satisfied with the conversion of an individual’s heart. According to her biographer Navin Chawla Mother never felt the need to convert the destitute because for her every suffering person she picked up from the street was God. 


 Her trademark saree was symbol of Jesus:  Her trademark white saree with the blue border which she chose over a nun’s habit in 1948 - for Mother Teresa was more than a garment. It was a promise from Jesus that “your saree will become holy because it will be my symbol.”

Mother's touch of compassion: Mother always said: “touch them with your compassion.” Nirmal Hriday-Home for the dying is a place where Mother touched the people with compassion.

Mother remembered and respected by all faiths: Mother funeral bore witness to the faith that she was internationally recognised, respected and accepted, and continuous to be remembered. It is so difficult to forget her contribution to bring peace & healing to so many! A silent servant of God who never printed handbills or posters to advertise what she was doing but came to be known all over the globe. Visitors touched by her rare & unique ministry among the least of the society willingly partnered with her and generously contributed to make Missionaries of Charity which she founded became one of the richest organizations in the world. But surprisingly at her death the personal wealth she left behind was a bucket, a mug, two simple dhotis and an ordinary pair of slippers.


By:- The Rev. Sunil Solomon Ghazan,

Presbyter-in-charge, Church of Epiphany CNI,(Church of North India)