The Vatican preparation for the canonization of Mother Theresa has been ongoing for over a year. On Sunday 4th September, a Christian ritual to declare her a fast-tracked Saint seems to many Catholics to be simply confirming what everyone already felt  -  that she had been a living saint in her time. She had, at the time of her death already lived and died in an exemplary and holy way. However, for Catholics, they are not able to call on Mother Theresa until she is made a Saint. Once she is technically declared a Saint by the Holy See, those of the faith can then publically invoke her to intercede on their behalf as she is now officially living or existing in a heavenly and holy place.

Theresa, practical and dedicated woman

Mother Theresa, was above all, a practical and dedicated nun who worked with some of the poorest people in the world, many of whom suffered incredibly in their lifetimes. She was no softie but she was all about love which may explain her popularity. She said a lot about love in her lifetime, such as, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved,” and “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” 

People seem to expect those who work in their Religion to be all about a warm radiating love, whereas, directness is a more likely response. The truth is, that those who become Christian leaders are often more likely to tell their followers to shape up, sort out heir spiritual life and wait on God for direction than to dish out hugs to their own Christian followers.

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But Theresa was loved above all, for her message of love of one human to another.

'Find your own Calcutta'

One story about Mother Theresa has it that she once told a woman who wanted to join her in ministering to the disadvantaged in Calcutta, to "Find your own Calcutta." This was terse and a rather short response to someone who perhaps with a touch of dramatism had volunteered to work alongside Theresa and live a life of hardship and poverty whilst reaching out to better the lives of others.

The newly anointed Saint was perhaps telling that woman that there is nothing romantic or special about ministering to the desperate in a far away country; there are plenty of desperate people right on the doorstep of every Christian in the world.

She had her critics 

Although she was a Nobel Peace Laureate and long known as the "saint of the gutters" she was not perfect. She was often criticized within India for failing to address grassroots issues, such as the root cause of the poverty she worked with every day.

Others felt she was not ministering from altruistic reasons, but rather to try and convert people away from their own cultural faiths. But above all, she was simply a human and it is human to be criticized and to be terse and to try and make life meaningful for the disadvantaged. Her reply to critics was “God doesn't require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.”

You don't have to be Catholic to hear her message of love

For millions of people across the world, whether of the Catholic religion or not, she will be admired and respected - Saint or no Saint. They may never invoke her or pray to her, or care about the fact that her sandals are stored as holy relics, but they will remember her for her messages of love and hope - one of the most famous being:

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty -- it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There's a hunger for love." - Mother Theresa.