The Power of Your Smile: St. Teresa of Calcutta

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Wisdom from a Great Saint

St. Teresa of Calcutta was canonized on September 4, 2016, in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis. She died on September 5, 1997, and the world anxiously awaited this canonization. One of the greatest themes of St. Teresa’s life was teaching the world the importance of loving others, especially those in need. She lived the example she preached. She talked about the “power of a smile”, a seemingly small gesture which can transform the world because a smile has the power to bring the love of Jesus to everyone you meet.

“Peace Begins with a Smile”

St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “peace begins with a smile”. This sounds simple, not complicated, but perhaps we make it complicated. When we ponder our many responsibilities, our minds may be clouded with worries, desires and the details of life. Even while we attempt to see beyond our own shadows, God can help us to see the good in each situation and give us the ability to smile through the power of the Holy Spirit. The simplicity of this gift actually is monumental in bringing the love of God to the world. The simple act of smiling has more power in helping others than we can imagine.
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier” is another wonderful quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta. Bringing love and peace through our willingness to smile helps other feel loved by God and by us. Mother Teresa did this often in her ministry as she served the “poorest of the poor” in the streets of Calcutta. When we allow our love of God to shine through in an initial smile with another person, we are making ourselves vulnerable. Initiating a smile can open a door to a suffering person who needs the love we have to offer in our vulnerability.

Finding our Own Peace in Order to Give It Away

We need peace ourselves in order to give love as a gift to others. Finding peace can seem difficult in times of confusion and busyness but we can find solitude in a quick minute with God through prayer and in slowing down for a short time. We may be able to do this through a long breath, or sitting down in a chair for a moment or walking away from a tough situation. We recognize in these moments that God is with us. He can help us in any situation. Slowing down and reaching for the Lord in moments of anxiety and stress is key.

These are times we can find peace to bring our souls serenity. We may even find ourselves smiling amidst the difficulty we experience. Humor is a medicine which can enable us to see the lighter side of life. God is with us in both the humorous and serious times. He can help us in all situations and bring a smile to our face. Once we have practiced reaching out for God in these kinds of moments, we may find ourselves smiling a little bit quicker than we used to during difficulties. The Holy Spirit will come into our hearts more fully as we begin to see the bigger picture of our lives.We will still have doubts throughout life, but our confidence will increase and so will our trust in God. As we become more confident in God’s love for us, we can help the lonely through acts of kindness, beginning with a smile.

“Each One of them is Jesus in Disguise”

St. Teresa often said “Jesus was in disguise” in the poor and lonely of the world. She felt impelled to love the most unlovable and forgotten people. She taught the other sisters in her order to do the same. She taught them to continue to smile at the neglected people they encountered. This message of love has spread throughout the world through the ministry of the order. The sisters are able to find Jesus in suffering people.  We can, too.

St. Teresa also stated, “The biggest disease is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted”. Homeless people, sick people, and suffering people may feel unwanted. Suffering people are everywhere, even very close to us. They are in our neighborhoods, Churches, shopping areas, and in our own families. Our homes are places we can bring a smile and encouragement. The present moment is the best place to start in finding the love God to give away.  The family is the primary place we can bring God’s love to a suffering person.

“Let Us Meet with a Smile”- St. Teresa of Calcutta

Taking a small moment with God before we encounter people will bring us the gift of charity through the Holy Spirit. We can give this gift of love to God’s people. “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love”, said St. Teresa. Yes, the smile is love. It is a profound gift from God to be given away to make the world a better place through Him. This is not a complicated mission. It may be hard to do at times, but with the Lord by our side and a touch of good humor, God will enable us to smile and mean it.  Through the intercession of St. Teresa of Calcutta, Our Lady and the angels and saints, we pray for the gifts of joy, peace, and love. Our smile is a gift from Jesus to show His love to others.

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