Find Your Own Calcutta

On September 5th the Catholic Church celebrated for the first time the feast of Saint Mother Teresa. It was also the 20th anniversary of her death. She was truly a holy and inspirational woman. The saints are our heroes, real life people with super strengths of courage, perseverance, and faith that moved mountains in ways rivaling those in the Marvel and DC Comics universe.

When there is danger, a fire or a flood, everyone flees for their lives. But the heroes, the firefighters, the first responders, etc run toward the fire, into the danger to rescue people. St. Mother Teresa -in St. Damien fashion- ran toward the lepers and other untouchables while everyone else turned their backs and ran away. She established communities for them and brought help, hope, and above all the dignity they desperately lacked.

The good and Godly efforts of Mother Teresa were not glamorous, but glorious. Glory to God the Giver. He gives life and He takes it way. All life comes from Him, made in His image and likeness, therefore all human life deserves dignity. St. Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity founded orphanages, schools, hospitals and more. But some of the most touching work was with those left in gutters to die. St. Mother Teresa sought out the dying homeless. She brought them to the make-shift hospitals, not to save their lives (for they were beyond being saved physically), but to honor them. Her gift was a death with dignity. Eye contact, holding hands, food and drink, reprieve from the heat, a bath, and a prayer are all simple gifts. Yet, they are all powerful acts of kindness for these lowly ones “caste” out into the streets to die forlorn in shame.

A journalist once commented to St. Mother Teresa that he wouldn’t do the work she does for a million dollars. Her response was “Neither would I.” Her heroic acts of charity attracted many people. Surprisingly, when folks offered to come to Calcutta to help her, she seldom accepted. Instead, what she proposed in her typical perfect wisdom was this five word response:

“Go Find Your Own Calcutta.”

In a few short weeks all across America and the world groups of ordinary people will rearrange their normal routine and make time for a special weekly hour of prayer. As part of “40 Days for Life,” men, women, and children will peacefully pray outside of abortion facilities like the one a few miles from my home in Meridian, Idaho. We pray simply for an end to abortion. We pray for those who have been duped by the devil and blinded by evil. We pray for the truth to prevail against the lies, for the scales to fall away from their eyes. The truths that too many women don’t know: their true beauty and worth for starters. Children aren’t the end of a dream, but a new beginning. In every abortion, something inside the mother dies. Women deserve better than abortion. There is help and there is hope and no one is alone. But as we implore the Lord to please change our hearts and minds and to keep us on a path towards Him and His peace, it is not enough. The parking lot is full. Young ladies go in, and they come out, but the life has literally been sucked out of them. We sometimes feel a failure. What would St. Mother Teresa say?

So prayer warriors find our “Calcutta” on the sidewalks of our towns and cities. And if we fail to save a life, we succeed in bringing it dignity. Although the abortionist and the mother may reject and deny the worthiness of these little lives, our presence is a witness to their value. Time spent participating in “40 Days for Life” is never wasted.

So will you join me in praying and fasting for an end to abortion for 40 days, Sept 27th – Nov 5th? You can pray and participate from home and/or from the sidewalk. Visit to find a vigil site near you or to sign up to receive daily devotions and stories. This grassroots movement has brought peace and saved over 13,000 lives from abortion since 2007. Is God calling you to find your own Calcutta? I know what you’re thinking, you couldn’t pay me to go out and pray in front of Planned Parenthood. Why would I run towards something so unpleasant? Let me tell you one reason why. Do it for the Glory of God the Giver of Life. Where “they” insult the Creator by labeling His most precious masterpiece of creation as medical waste, we exalt Him by giving the unborn a  simple gift, a death with a measure of dignity. St. Mother Teresa, heroine of our times, pray for us.

The seed for this blog was a talk by Shawn Carney, co-founder of 40 Days for Life. Thank you Shawn for your inspiration.

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