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The Feast of All Saints: God's Glorious Nobodies View Comments
By Kathy Coffey

“THEY SET FORTH no decisions or judgments, nor are they found among the rulers” (Sirach 38:33).

Snow shovelers, flight attendants, phlebotomists, kindergarten aides, car mechanics, postal workers, gardeners, cooks, farmers, computer technicians, produce managers, librarians, garbage collectors: They make a lovely litany for the Feast of All Saints!

Sometimes when I get depressed about the folks at the top—the greed-driven executives, the hypocritical leaders, the unethical actions of the supposedly “best and brightest”—I like to think of Tim.

Tim’s job wasn’t prestigious. He worked as an aide at a retirement center where my 84-year-old friend Cathey lives. Sometimes I pick her up for a lecture or a concert, because she craves stimulation and loves to get out.

One cold morning when I arrived, Tim greeted me at the door. “Cathey’s got only a light jacket. Do you think she’ll be warm enough?” he asked with concern. “She’s so excited about going. I styled her hair!”

Cathey emerged several minutes later, glowing. I complimented her on her hairstyle while Tim retrieved a heavier coat. As he waved us off, I thought no parent had sent a child to prom with more tenderness or pride.

Do we think of Tim as a saint? Probably not. Aren’t saints the folks with lush capes and sculpted halos, glowing through stained glass? Even in martyrdom, their hair is perfectly blow-dried, not one brocade thread of one sleeve askew. They are never overweight, late, anxious or irritable. But such an image does a great disservice to reality. When we put the saints on a pedestal too distant, we’re off the hook. If they were perfect, we don’t need to imitate them!

The reading for the Feast of All Saints, the Beatitudes, certainly contradicts the idea of distance. In Luke’s version (6:17-23), Jesus stands “on a stretch of level ground” in a posture of equality with people who were probably sweaty, disease
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Kathy Coffey, author of the book The Art of Faith (Twenty-Third Publications), gives retreats and workshops nationally and internationally. The Denver, Colorado, resident can be contacted at cafekathy@aol.com.


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Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta): Mother Teresa of Kolkata, the tiny woman recognized throughout the world for her work among the poorest of the poor, was beatified October 19, 2003. Among those present were hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, the order she founded in 1950 as a diocesan religious community. Today the congregation also includes contemplative sisters and brothers and an order of priests. 
<p>Born to Albanian parents in what is now Skopje, Macedonia (then part of the Ottoman Empire), Gonxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu was the youngest of the three children who survived. For a time, the family lived comfortably, and her father's construction business thrived. But life changed overnight following his unexpected death. </p><p>During her years in public school Agnes participated in a Catholic sodality and showed a strong interest in the foreign missions. At age 18 she entered the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. It was 1928 when she said goodbye to her mother for the final time and made her way to a new land and a new life. The following year she was sent to the Loreto novitiate in Darjeeling, India. There she chose the name Teresa and prepared for a life of service. She was assigned to a high school for girls in Kolkata, where she taught history and geography to the daughters of the wealthy. But she could not escape the realities around her—the poverty, the suffering, the overwhelming numbers of destitute people. </p><p>In 1946, while riding a train to Darjeeling to make a retreat, Sister Teresa heard what she later explained as “a call within a call. The message was clear. I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them.” She also heard a call to give up her life with the Sisters of Loreto and, instead, to “follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor.” </p><p>After receiving permission to leave Loreto, establish a new religious community and undertake her new work, she took a nursing course for several months. She returned to Kolkata, where she lived in the slums and opened a school for poor children. Dressed in a white sari and sandals (the ordinary dress of an Indian woman) she soon began getting to know her neighbors—especially the poor and sick—and getting to know their needs through visits. </p><p>The work was exhausting, but she was not alone for long. Volunteers who came to join her in the work, some of them former students, became the core of the Missionaries of Charity. Others helped by donating food, clothing, supplies, the use of buildings. In 1952 the city of Kolkata gave Mother Teresa a former hostel, which became a home for the dying and the destitute. As the order expanded, services were also offered to orphans, abandoned children, alcoholics, the aging, and street people. </p><p>For the next four decades Mother Teresa worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor. Her love knew no bounds. Nor did her energy, as she crisscrossed the globe pleading for support and inviting others to see the face of Jesus in the poorest of the poor. In 1979 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. On September 5, 1997, God called her home.</p> American Catholic Blog A healthy marriage is that it is a witness of Jesus’s love for the 
Church. We are the bride of Christ, and the greatest declaration of the groom’s love is found at the cross. The complete gift of self by Jesus at Calvary is so entire that it is life-giving.

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