Woman of the Word

Mother Theresa and the Use of Scripture in Her Letters

Blessed Theresa Gerhardinger, the Foundress of the School Sisters of Notre Dame was an administrator who spent much of her time answering correspondence, meeting with political and church officials, listening to sisters and responding to a variety of needs. She was tireless in her attempts to communicate with those around her.

Her 5,337 letters give evidence of her ability as a shrewd businesswoman. The letters of Mother Theresa are a primary source that let her speak for herself. She was diplomatic and direct. Her letters exemplify a strong determination to make the education of female youth, particularly the poor, her chief concern.

Like most busy administrators she tried to balance her life with prayer and solitude. The Word of God was vital to her life and mission. In a sample of 200 letters the author discovered her broad knowledge of the Word of God. Each night she prayed before the Blessed Sacrament in a midnight holy hour that revived her spirit.

It is in this spirit that a "retreat" with Mother Theresa has been created. The author has borrowed some ideas from Augustine and Sister Maura Eichner. Through scripture, poetry, and Mother Earth, the retreatant will find a path through some of Theresa's favorite scripture quotations.

One can also trace certain scripture texts through Father Job's Spirit of the Constitution as well as more recent documents within the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

It is important to learn how these letters were preserved and translated. Through the efforts of many School Sisters of Notre Dame, there are five volumes of her letters available in English. In 2009, Sister Mary Ann Kuttner translated the letters of Mother Theresa; her explanatory footnotes provide historical context.

The first letter quoted is from Genesis, #4359, written in 1869: "Will you continue to pray in union with us that the dear Lord may send his creative word also into this chaos?" May her practical mysticism shine forth and energize all who read her words.

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