Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
There are quite a few Saints who have touched my life, and my first experience with Mother Teresa was the beginning. When I was young, I didn’t pay much attention to world events. But Mother Teresa was an influential figure who sparked my interest. I remember choosing her as the subject of several school projects. The more I learned about her, the more I realized how important her life’s work was. I was in sixth grade when she passed away, and I still remember being saddened by the news. Like many, I recognized the faith, hope, and most notably the love with which she lived her life. Her service to the poorest of the poor, all the while giving God the glory, really resonated with me. Her work inspired me and deepened my faith. Mother Teresa was a faithful servant of the Lord, and He used her to draw me closer to Himself. Ever since I first learned about the great work the Lord performed through her hands, I have grown much in my faith. He poured out a share of His love to Mother Teresa, and she shared it with those who were in most need.
The more I learned about her life, her interior struggles and her perseverance, the joy of being open to the will of God became something even I could aspire to. So when my first daughter was born, I honored Mother Teresa by giving her the middle name Teresa. And when my daughter was almost two years old and I was confirmed in the Catholic Church, I chose Blessed Mother Teresa as my patron. I later realized it was through the intercession of the Blessed Mother that Mother Teresa was one of the first Saints to embrace me as I was welcomed into the Communion of Saints. The Lord still uses Mother Teresa to reveal Himself to me. Through the Holy Spirit, she has encouraged me to allow God to grace me with an attitude bent towards charity and service. I hope to venerate Saint Teresa of Calcutta with my life, that I might honor her as she points me to God. For the love that the Lord poured out to her is the same love that He pours out to me. Mother Teresa once said “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” Her message of love, which was a small seed planted when I was a child was now taking root.
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
Which brings me to the next Saint I would like to share about: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. I had never even heard of her until almost two years ago when I read her name in our church bulletin. Her relics were scheduled to visit, and our family decided to go. I learned a little bit about her life, and her heroic choice which she had prepared for her entire life really touched me. As we were venerating her relics, my husband took our daughters outside so that I might have a few moments to pray alone. The month before we had experienced a miscarriage, losing Quinn, and I was praying for a baby. Suddenly my prayer became for new life, and tears came to my eyes. I had an intense feeling of peace wash over me, and I knew something fundamental had changed inside me, that new life was here. So the next month when we found out we were expecting I was overjoyed. But the month after that we lost that baby too, Arwen. I was so confused; I thought this was the answer to my prayers. But then it finally dawned on me. The new life that had come was the life in me. I was experiencing an ongoing conversion of heart, and becoming truly open to life and to love. It was not the healing I thought I wanted; it was the healing I needed.
Through Saint Gianna’s intercession, the disposition of my heart has been transformed. I recognized the old me would have closed myself off, wanting to prevent a similar hurt. It was only by the grace of God that I was willing to try again. And God’s grace was sufficient, sustaining me throughout. But I could have easily said no and protected my heart. Instead, God poured His life and love in. Shortly after, we discovered we were expecting again. We went on a pilgrimage to Saint Gianna’s shrine to offer prayers of thanksgiving. Later we welcomed our son into our family. Saint Gianna spoke the truth when she said “Love and sacrifice are closely linked, like the sun and the light. We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love.” I am so thankful to be able to experience such love.
Saint Joan of Arc
But what of love without courage? My relationship with Jesus began to deepen, and the Holy Spirit began to move my heart towards putting my love of God into action. This brings me to my final Saint: Saint Joan of Arc. I had heard her story when I was in high school, and something about her fortitude had always inspired me. But as I grew older, I became confused about what my role was as a woman. I didn’t understand how I was to relate to others in the fullest sense. Then finally I discovered the beauty of the feminine genius. My eyes and heart were being opened to a greater understanding of my own nature and dignity as a woman. I am now able to see myself, my role in my family, community, the Church and the world in a new light. This shift of perspective has made all the difference.
I began helping out with several women’s ministries, calling on the intercession of Saint Joan of Arc. She is a model of feminine strength and courage. Her love of God led her to desire to do His will, and her passion and bravery have inspired me to step out in faith in my daily life. Saint Joan of Arc said “I fear nothing, for God is with me!” And as I continue to follow where the Holy Spirit leads, I know that love requires courage. Being called to holiness, I am striving to let the light of Christ shine through in my life.