Learning from Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa is the most important peace hero of the 20th Century. Many have focused on bringing peace by political means, both violent and non-violent. Though these means may bring temporary relief, they treat only the symptoms of violence. Mother Teresa addressed the root of all violence which is in the human heart. She believed in an active peacemaking and taught that "works of love are works of peace." (Collopy 14) Her power came from three things: a radical understanding of peace, unwavering devotion to victims of all types of violence, and the beautiful example of her life.
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Albania, in 1910 (Vardey xx). In 1928 she joined the Loretto order to work as a teacher in India. Her true calling came in 1946 when, according to Mother Teresa, "I was traveling to Darjeeling by train, when I heard the voice of God... The message was clear. I must leave the convent to help the poor by living among them" (Sebba 46). Mother Teresa left the confines of the Loretto order to begin her own ministry. In 1950 she received papal permission to found a new religious order, the Missionaries of Charity (Associated Press, Highlights). Through the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa brought true peace and hope to millions.
Love is the most fundamental peace. Peace that comes from love is not simply the absence of conflict, it is active, living, and engages our truest selves. It is this positive peace that was Mother Teresa's radical vision. For Mother Teresa, peace was so much more than political stability. Nations do not suffer, individuals do. Nations cannot be at peace unless individuals are at peace. Mother Theresa said, "The whole...
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...h all you meet. Remember, Works of love are works of peace." (Collopy 14). By valuing every human being, by finding Jesus even in the poorest of the poor, Mother Teresa was a hero because she gave peacemaking love to all she met, and taught others to do likewise by her example.
Associated Press. Mother Teresa in Her Own Words. 1997
Highlights of Mother Teresa's Life. 1997
CNN. "Saint of the Gutters". 1997
Collopy, Michael. Works of Love are Works of Peace. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1996.
Sebba, Anne. Mother Teresa. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
Vardey, Lucinda. Mother Teresa-A Simple Path. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995.