Mother Teresa: smile is the beginning of love

Mother Teresa often said, “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

Five Good Shepherd Sisters attended the canonization of Mother Teresa at the Vatican on September 4, 2016. I took a flight from Tirana, Albania, to attend.

Mother Teresa was born into an ethnic Albanian family in Skopje, Ottoman Empire (now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia). Various celebrations for her sainthood took place in parishes throughout Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

I wanted to be in Rome for the celebration so that I could represent our Good Shepherd Sisters from Albania and show solidarity to the Missionaries of Charity Sisters in Albania. I usually attend Mass in their convent when there are no morning Masses in the Parish. I also wanted to be in Rome for the historic event so that I could reconnect with Sisters I know at the Generalate – Gemma and Yolly. The three of us had a joyful and enriching reunion.

The poor were present for Mother Teresa

mother teresa
A Missionary of Charity Sister from Germany meets with the crowd at Mother Teresa’s canonization in Rome.

I had admired Mother Teresa’s simplicity of life and her daringness and courage to recognize God in the presence of the poorest of the poor. I was touched to see many poor people present at the Vatican. Like St. Mary Euphrasia, Mother Teresa respected every person she met and upheld the dignity of even the poorest and most marginalized.

I resonated with what Pope Francis said about her at the canonization. He said, “Mother Teresa loved to say: ‘Perhaps, I don’t speak their language, but I can smile.’”

This is what I do with the people in my mission in Albania. Some call me “the smiling face sister.” The Holy Father went on to say in his homily: “Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer.”

Perhaps you watched in the news the many people who attended. We arrived at 7 a.m. for Mass, which began at 10:15 am. Some people from bus tours were there as early as 4 a.m. The liturgy lasted two hours.
I was happy to be present at the ceremony and to be among the thousands of attendees from all over the world. It was a chance for me to see the Holy Father again. I would like to summarize with a quote from Saint Teresa of Calcutta:

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

About Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was born in 1910. She went to India in 1929 as a Sister of Loreto and became an Indian citizen in 1947. She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. Shortly after she died in 1997, St. John Paul II waived the usual five- year waiting period and allowed the opening of the process to declare her sainthood. She was beatified in 2003. Pope Francis declared Blessed Teresa of Calcutta a saint on September 4, 2016, before a throng of thousands. The date chosen for her canonization was the eve of the 19th anniversary of her death and the date the Vatican had previously set to conclude the Year of Mercy. Saint Teresa of Calcutta is considered to be one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century.

Olga Cristobal

Olga Cristobal

Olga Cristobal is an Apostolic Good Shepherd Sister who has been missioned to Kenya and Albania. She has also worked for many years with Good Shepherd ministries that help women break free from chemical dependency.