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Footsteps to Follow - Prayer in Action with Teresa of Calcutta

Our Footsteps to Follow series looks to the example of those who have gone before us to provide inspiration and guidance as we encounter the Love of God in creation, contemplation, and community.

Today we celebrate the life and work of Teresa of Calcutta. The iconic blue and white habit and the deep caring love of this twentieth century hero of the faith continues to inspire twenty-four years after her death. With so many stories of prayer, humility, love, and a very quotable wit, it is a difficult task to choose a single point for this brief reflection. However, I keep returning to one way of praying attributed to Teresa.

In the prayer of two hands to start the day, one first turns inward with the left hand and beginning with the thumb prays with each finger, "I will (thumb) - to want (forefinger) - with God's blessing (middle finger)- to be (ring finger) - holy (pinkie)." In this way, we pray that our intention, our will, be set to desire the will and righteousness of God. We seek God's blessing to be and with the weakest of the fingers we acknowledge our dependence upon the strength of God for holiness.

Having turned inward with the left hand, we turn to the work of the day with our right hand. In a prayer recalling Christ's words recorded in Matthew 25, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me," we pray again using each finger, "You - did - it - unto -Me." In this way, we prepare ourselves to encounter Christ in the people we meet in the day. Perhaps we will even look back on the day and like Teresa be privileged to say, "I held the dying Christ in my arms today."

May we remember Teresa today as we pray with both hands, setting our intention to desire what God desires and our expectation to encounter Christ even in the least of these.

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