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Teresa’s journey to sainthood

author: elisabeth sahlmueller | contributor

Credit: Randy Adams via Flickr

 

I knew that Mother Teresa was an amazing woman, but after researching further into her life, I have an even greater respect for her.

Sainthood is the highest level of recognition for someone within the Catholic faith. The process is a lengthy one, and only an individual who has lived a remarkable life, not for themselves, but in service towards others, is ever considered for being given the honour of becoming a saint.

When I think of saints, I think of courageous, strong-willed people who have achieved something great for the benefit of someone else and overcame immense obstacles in the process. While saints aren’t announced very often, there are always exceptions. Earlier this month, on Sept. 4, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhui, or Mother Teresa as she is more famously known, was canonized as a saint. Not only is this a significant and well-deserved accomplishment for her, but I also believe that it will encourage the Catholic Church to provide more opportunities for women.

Before writing this article, I knew that Mother Teresa was an amazing woman, but after researching further into her life, I have an even greater respect for her. Agnes spent 69 years in the service of helping others, since she left her home in Skopje, Yugoslavia in 1928, until her death in 1997. She has taken part in 4500 charity missions in different areas throughout the world, including Ireland, India, Calcutta, and Lebanon.

She lived an incredible life, dedicated to helping others whenever she could. Her life mission was to help “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers – all those people who felt unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people who have become a burden on society and are shunned by everyone.”

In most instances, there is usually a waiting period of five to fifteen years after the death of an individual before they begin the process of sainthood. However, in the case of Mother Teresa, the pope at the time, St. John Paul II, eliminated this waiting time and in 2003, she was beatified, or publicly recognized as being a holy person.

Despite Catholicism’s long length and major presence as a sect of Christianity, it has remained extremely traditional and has upheld restrictions on women’s involvement. Women are banned from a variety of positions in the church, such as being priests, cardinals, or deacons. This has led to a large level of criticism and ideas circulating that the Catholic Church is against women. While this is not the case, it does reflect badly on the Catholic faith when women are not able to fill the same positions as men.

In my opinion, these limitations on women within the Catholic Church are extremely unfair. Women are completely capable of any of those positions. The only reason I see for the church to have held onto such an idea for so long is because they are deeply rooted in tradition. While I am old-fashioned in many ways, the idea of continuing a practise simply because that is how it has always been done is not a very strong argument. Equality is a large part of Christianity and religion itself, and for the church, having these restrictions on women demonstrates a huge level of inequality.

Any time an individual does something great and receives public recognition, or acknowledgement, they become a model and are likely to invoke a positive change in society. I believe that this is especially true of Mother Teresa. She is a well-recognized, respected, and admired woman worldwide. Her recent induction into Sainthood has already gotten people talking about increasing women’s involvement within the Catholic Church and has even encouraged action in various women’s groups to push for less restrictions on women. One example being the Women’s Ordination World Wide group that campaigns to push for more women involvement in church positions.

All of this will be hard for the Catholic Church to ignore, and I hope that the canonization of Mother Teresa will be a motivating factor for a break in the Catholic tradition.

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