Ten years ago this week a beautiful woman passed on from this world. She was recognized internationally, yet had no real power of her own.
She influenced the world by the power of her example. Mother Teresa was a hero of mine. She stood not five feet tall, yet seemed to radiate a spiritual power. For over 40 years she ministered to the needs of the poor, sick, orphaned and dying in Calcutta, India.
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work, she used her position on the world stage to work for peace and to draw attention to the needs of the poor.
She would say and do the most remarkable things. Remember in 1982 during the siege of Beirut, Mother Teresa negotiated a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and the Palestinian guerillas, so that she and several Red Cross workers could evacuate 37 children from the war zone.
That was vintage Teresa. She passed on from this world on September 5, 1997, at the age of 87, and the world may not see her like again.
Her influence remains, in her books, in her story and in the movement she founded. Today the Sisters of Charity now has more than 4,000 nuns running orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers worldwide.
Recently some of the details of her diary have been published. The diary shows that even Mother Teresa had some doubts and she sometimes struggled with depression.
For me, this makes Mother Teresa's example all the more powerful.
How long would any of us last working among the poorest in the world? She spent a lifetime in service to God.
When she received the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa closed her acceptance speech with these words, "Someone asked me, 'Mother, please tell us something that we will remember,' and I said to them: 'Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family. Smile at each other.' And then another one asked me: 'Are you married,' and I said: 'Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at Jesus because he can be very demanding sometimes.' This is really something true, and there is where love comes - when it is demanding, and yet we can give it to him with joy."
Here are my seven favorite quotes by Mother Teresa, from a collection of her writings published in 2000, "No Greater Love."
"I don't think there is anyone who needs God's help and grace as much as I do. Sometimes I feel so helpless and weak. I think that is why God uses me."
"If we do not radiate the light of Christ around us, the sense of the darkness that prevails in the world will increase. We are called to love the world. And God loved the world so much that he gave Jesus. Today he loves the world so much that he gives you and me to be his love, his compassion, and his presence, through a life of prayer, of sacrifice, of surrender to God."
"Peace and war start within one's own home. If we really want peace for the world, let us start by loving one another within our families."
"It is easy to love those who live far away. It is not always easy to love those who live right next to us. I want you to go and find the poor in your homes. I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know who your neighbor is?"
"Always be faithful in little things, for in them our strength lies. To God nothing is little."
"Do not be surprised or become preoccupied at each other's failure; rather see and find the good in each other, for each one of us is created in the image of God. Keep in mind that the community is not composed of those who are already saints, but of those who are trying to become saints."
"Jesus is going to do great things with you, if you let him."