Finding Our Calcutta

Today marks my one year anniversary in the Catholic Church. I reflect more on my first year as a Catholic in my first Catholic Stand article, coming out before Easter. But today I want to spend some time reflecting on a specific person that has been an inspiration to me on my faith journey.

What’s In A Name?

When a person is Confirmed into the Catholic Church, he or she is asked to choose the name of a Saint to take on as they are confirmed. This Saint will be someone that this person admires, and desires to model his or her life after. A Saint that you feel connected to. Name changing at specific pivotal live moments happens several times in Scripture… we have Abram becoming Abraham, Simon becoming Peter, etc. It’s a beautiful tradition, and while you all still know me as “Lorelei,” last year on this day I also took on the name “Teresa.”

As in Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Known as Mother Teresa during her time here on earth.

Saint Teresa was someone I knew about during my formative years, but only vaguely. And then, more recently, when I became more aware of the social justice issues of our times, I felt more connected to her, and the heart that she had for the poor and underserved. Before I even entertained the idea of becoming Catholic, I had purchased a piece of art for our home that contained a quote from Mother Teresa.

There are a lot of things about Saint Teresa’s life that I can look up to, and strive to model. I can only hope to grow to a point that I can live as selflessly as she. Today I want to specifically write about one of my favorite quotes of hers. She said this in response to a nun wanting to follow in her footsteps and move to Calcutta. Saint Teresa gave her unexpected advice:

“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.” 

-Saint Teresa of Calcutta

It is difficult to always know how we are serving God in our day to day lives. But this is such a beautiful reminder that Calcutta is everywhere.

When I am teaching students, some of whom desperately need routine and structure, and all of whom need love, I am in Calcutta.

When I respond to my baby’s cries for me, I am in Calcutta.

When something I have written has been an encouragement to another soul, I, without even knowing it, am in Calcutta.

What else? Who are the people in our neighborhoods who are sad or lonely? Who are the people in the pews around us at church who need friends? The orphans and widows in our own communities… People at the grocery store, in traffic… the homeless person on the street corner. And also at home, our children, and our spouses.

Even just thinking about this I am realizing that there are a lot of opportunities to serve my Calcutta that I am missing. I am far too often engaged in my own head and thinking about my own things, that I miss many opportunities to make eye contact, to see and possibly fill a need, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those I encounter, if even briefly.

And this serves as a good reminder, on my anniversary, to continue to work to consider the needs of others before myself. With the hope that every single soul I encounter continues on knowing they were treated with dignity.

Saint Teresa did that beautifully. And it is something I am convicted to improve in, and glad to strive towards. Confirmation has given me many graces, but connecting me spiritually with a Saint has been one of the most beautiful gifts.

So, while my official name continues to be Lorelei, I ask, on this day of my Confirmation Anniversary, that you pray for me and for us all to grow more like my Confirmation Saint, Saint Teresa of Calcutta. And also, that we all pray to remember to find the Calcutta that is all around us.

– Lorelei

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