Sisters of Mercy
Like Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta received ongoing conversations with Jesus through words and visions during a period lasting from Sept. 10, 1946 to Dec. 3, 1947. In another striking similarity to the life of Saint Faustina, Jesus asked Mother Theresa, to found a new order of nuns.
During the cause for canonization of Mother Teresa, archives were only recently opened revealing the intimate relationship she had with Jesus. Documents containing her accounts of these divine communications were found in the archives of the Jesuits in Calcutta and in the office of the local bishop.
During one of these visions, Jesus called Mother Teresa to start a new order of merciful nuns. “I want Indian nuns, victims of my love, who would be Mary and Martha, who would be so united to me as to radiate my love on souls.” Sound familiar? At the time, Mother Teresa was a missionary sister in the Irish order of the Sisters of Loreto, teaching at St. Mary’s school in Calcutta.
Saint Faustina had her visions, which included a special demand by Jesus to have a painting done depicting Jesus as she saw Him, while she was living in Vilnius, Lithuania, as a member of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, a Polish order of nuns.
Like Saint Faustina, Mother Teresa doubted that she was right for the job, but eventually Jesus won her over. Founding these new orders was not easy for either of these holy women. Upon her death, Saint Faustina handed over the founding of the Sisters of the Merciful Jesus to Fr. Michał Sopoćko who did not waiver from his mission.
Fr. Vazhakala, who co-founded the contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity alongside Mother Teresa has a letter written by Mother Teresa in which she discusses what Jesus said to her directly during the time of her locutions and visions.
“She was so united with Jesus,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “that she was able to radiate not her love, but Jesus’ love through her, and with a human expression.”
In the new film, The Original Image of Divine Mercy, Fr. Leo Maasburg, travel companion and spiritual director of Mother Teresa, discusses Mother Teresa’s close union with Jesus. “Mother Teresa was the living image of the Mercy of Jesus. She never tired from this to the very end.”
Whereas Saint Faustina’s visions occurred just prior to World War II, Mother Teresa’s visions were ten years after the death of Saint Faustina and just a few years after the end of the war. Like bookends to the brutality of that era, Jesus seems to have been assuring humanity that He was and is with us in through the darkest of times.
There are many similarities in the lives of these two holy nuns, many of which are only now coming to the surface. Even Mother Teresa’s now well-known “terrible darkness and dryness” in her spiritual life can be compared to the painful illness suffered by Saint Faustina. One was short-lived, and the other spanned years, but both nuns are documented to have wondered why Jesus would call on them for these difficult tasks and then seemingly abandon each of them into such great suffering.
Pope Francis will be canonizing Mother Teresa during a Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 4. The event is expected to draw record crowds to Rome. At the Vatican, that entire week — Sept. 1-8 — will be devoted to celebrating the life of Mother Teresa who became known as the “angel of the slums.”
May the lives of these beautiful souls inspire many more to courageously embrace the Cross of Christ, and embark tirelessly upon the work that Jesus has given us.
The Original Image of Divine Mercy, a documentary film about Saint Faustina’s singular Masterpiece of Art, is currently playing nationwide. To schedule a local screening at your parish please submit your request HERE