The day of her baptism was actually more important to Mother Teresa than her birthday. Although she may not have celebrated her 100th birthday herself, August 26 was marked by her order in Rome, and many other places, "to give honor and glory to God."
Many of the Missionaries of Charity (MC) sisters and brothers based in Rome came together at San Lorenzo in Damaso Church on Thursday. Two main events highlighted the afternoon: the inauguration of a nearby exhibit documenting Mother Teresa's life and a Mass presided over by Cardinals Angelo Comastri and Marc Ouellet.
In the break between the events, CNA was able to speak to some of the members of the MC community in Rome about the significance of the day for them. According to their responses, the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa's birth is important not so much for the fact that it's her birthday, but rather, as a celebration of her continued presence.
One sister thought that the foundress "would have been laughing" at all of the fuss made for the occasion.
Community members, however, didn't let the opportunity to better themselves slip away, as Sr. Elia, who works in the office for Mother Teresa's cause for canonization, told CNA.
She said, "For us, honestly, we prepared the celebration with great joy to give honor and glory to God, but the rest is actually to deepen our spirit, so that we are more faithful to the spirit that Mother left behind.
"That's actually how we are trying to live (the day)," she said, "and really to follow Jesus more closely and to be more dedicated to what he has called us to do."
As for Mother's 100 years, Sr. Elia explained that Mother didn't even celebrate her birthday.
"Everybody thought she was born on the 27th, which was her baptism date, (and) for which it is also the 100th anniversary, but I think it's important for me ... because it shows that life and what you make of your life comes from God. That you can see in Mother."
The life she received, said Sr. Elia, she gave totally back to God. "And what a life God gave to such a small person!”
Turning to the bigger picture, the young sister said that everyone today has the same graces that were offered to Mother Teresa, "the same Eucharist, the same Jesus, the same call," and everyone is able to make a difference.
Of the centenary celebration, she concluded, "it's not so much remembering the person that left," rather, it's about the fact "that you and I have the same call, the same God, the same grace and you can do something good for God, to do small things."
As for Mother Teresa's cause for canonization, Sr. Elia said, "keep praying for a miracle."
Mother Teresa's birthday was marked on Thursday with special celebrations taking place in Calcutta, India, her birthplace of Skopje, Macedonia and dozens of other cities worldwide.