Mother Teresa’s launching of the apostolate called the Missionaries of Charity was an immediate success, in all the right ways. The story is found in chp 7 of Come Be My Light..
How often do we know the “inside” story — in both the sense of what is going on behind closed doors and what is going on in the heart of someone — as a successful story unfolds? Should we? How many know how hard it was for many to get ministries off the ground? How many have suffered dissension over the formation of ministries?
When she left the Loreto Sisters convent, here was her prayer:
O Jesus, only love of my heart, I wish to suffer what I suffer and all Thou wilt have me suffer, for Thy pure love not because of the merits I may acquire, nor for the rewards Thou has promised me but only to please Thee, to praise Thee, to bless Thee as well in sorrow as in joy.
She struggled even to find a place to say — rules of orders not permitting her to stay in monasteries or convents. She eventually found a place to rent. On December 21, she entered the slums of Calcutta. First day reflections:
“We started at Taltala and went to every Catholic family … children were all over the place … I spoke very, very little, I just did some washing of sores, and dressings, gave medicine to some… What poverty. What actual suffering.
She was tempted to return; her legs ached from trying to find a place to stay. She suffered some “tortures of loneliness” (134). She fought tears.
Sister Agnes, at that time Shubashini Das, joined her. Within a year she had twelve sisters.
Students from her former convent started joining her and this caused dissension at the former convent.
The Missionaries of Charity finally received an official status and this was M. Teresa’s statement of their piety:
Those who join this Institute, therefore, are resolved to spend themselves unremittingly in seeking out, in towns and villages, even amid squalid surroundings, the poorer, the abandoned, the sick, the infirm, the dying; in taking care of them, rendering help to them, visiting them assiduously and instructing them in Christian Doctrine, in endeavouring to the utmost to bring about their conversion and sanctification … AND in performing any other similar apostolic works and services, however lowly and mean they may appear” (139).
She was deeply devoted to Mary and to the Rosary.
Then she formed a hospital of sorts called the “Treasure House” and founded “second selves” — others who would pray with them and suffer with them.
By the end of 1952 there were 26 members and in February of 1953 they moved to a new home, still the administrative center of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.
Tomorrow: her darkness.