Saint Teresa of Calcutta was known for spending countless hours attending to the dying, the sick, and the poor. This flowed from her rich prayer life: Daily Mass and a daily holy hour. Where did Mother Teresa learn to sacrifice herself for others? Her first teacher in virtue was none other than her mother, Dranafile Bojaxhiu.
The following excerpt is adapted from my book, The Parents of the Saints:
Our Lord’s words, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40), have fallen on many deaf ears for over two thousand years, but not this saint. Before the newly canonized Mother Teresa sacrificed for those dying in the gutters of Calcutta by cleaning off their wounds and preparing them for death, she learned Christ’s sacrificial love firsthand from her parents’ example. According to Kathyrn Spink, who knew St. Teresa of Calcutta personally:
At least once a week Drana would visit an old woman who had been abandoned by her family, to take her food and clean her house. She washed and fed and cared for File, an alcoholic woman covered with sores, as if she were a small child. The six children of a poor widow became part of Drana’s own family when their mother died. Agnes would sometimes accompany her mother on her errands of mercy, for Drana was eager that the lessons of love in action and the importance of leading a Christian life, albeit without deliberately attracting attention to one’s own virtue, should be communicated to their own children.119
Dranafile taught her daughter the most important lesson, which was “when you do good, do it quietly, as if you were throwing a stone into the sea.”120 Her lesson on humility clearly shaped Mother Teresa for the rest of her life and, at the same time, parallels Christ’s words, which are proclaimed on Ash Wednesday: “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Mt 6:3).
Parents who are filled with humility and love are more likely to raise virtuous children than parents who are filled with pride and selfishness. Often, we seek the praise of others, but here Dranafile and Mother Teresa remind us that it is better to act in a hidden way. God’s glory must be everything! Indeed, Mother Teresa’s home was her first novitiate, the place where sacrificial love and humility were taught.
119 Kathryn Spink, Mother Teresa: An Authorized Biography (New York: Harper One, 2011), 7.
120 Ibid. was on the wall of one of her children’s homes, were the following words: “If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives, DO GOOD ANWAY.” 121 And further, “The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow, DO GOOD ANYWAY.”122 Though these words were not attributed to Mother Teresa, they are saturated with her fragrance
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Discover the hidden heroes behind Sts. Faustina, Giana Molla, Josemaría Escrivá, Pope John Paul II, Maximilian Kolbe, Padre Pio, Thérèse, and countless others. Learn how over 100 parents formed their children into great saints by way of their virtuous lives, namely their seven hallmarks: sacramental life, surrender, sacrificial love, suffering, simplicity, solitude, and the sacredness of life. Each chapter of this book examines a particular hallmark in depth. Order The Parents of the Saints HERE.