There are few people in our generation who have commanded respect as Mother Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta) had in her life. This diminutive Albanian nun born in obscurity in 1910 died in the shadows on September 5, 1997, having died the day before Princess Diana was to be buried (September 6, 1997).
In 1969, Malcolm Muggeridge hosted a BBC documentary on Mother Teresa and her work with the dying. She was reluctant to do it, but she said, “Well, let’s do something beautiful for God” (a reference to Jesus’ honouring words to the woman who anointed his feet in Mark 14:6 – to which he said, “she has done something beautiful for me”).
The sign outside the home read, “Home for Dying Destitutes” – a rather blunt reality for people who are dying to die, since they were left unattended and profoundly lonely. “What the poor need, Mother Teresa was fond of saying, even more than food and clothing and shelter, is to be wanted… I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human can ever experience.” (Something Beautiful for God, p. 22, 98).
Thus in the theme of Christ’s own words found in Matthew 25, this daily prayer is a beautiful expression of seeing Christ in the person of the poor, or as she would say, “Jesus in His distressing disguise:”
Dearest Lord, may I see you today and every day in the person of your sick, and whilst nursing them, minister unto you. Though you hide yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I recognize you, and say:
‘Jesus my patient, how sweet it is to serve you.’
Lord, give me this seeing faith, then my work will never be monotonous. I will ever find joy in humoring the fancies and gratifying the wishes of all poor sufferers.
O beloved sick, how doubly dear you are to me, when you personify Christ; and what a privilege is mine to be allowed to tend you.
Sweetest Lord, make me appreciative of the dignity of my high vocation, and its many responsibilities. Never permit me to disgrace it by giving way to coldness, unkindness, or impatience.
And O God, while you are Jesus, my patient, deign also to be to me a patient Jesus, bearing with my faults looking only to my intention, which is to love and serve you in the person of each of your sick. Lord increase my faith, bless my efforts and work, now and for evermore. Amen.
Mother Teresa’s Daily Prayer