Five Insights on Dying and Death From St. Teresa of Calcutta

St. Teresa of Calcutta grew up in Albania but dedicated her long life to the care of the very poor in Calcutta. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity. She was awarded the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. Mother Teresa died on 5 September 1997, was beatified in 2003 and canonized in 2016. The insights are taken from the collection of her teachings called The Mother Teresa Reader, compiled by LaVonne Neff. For five more of her thoughts on death and dying, go here.


Dying Young

Something happened to one of our sisters who was sent to study. The day she was to receive her degree, she died. As she was dying she asked, “Why did Jesus call me for such a short time?”And her superior answered, “Jesus wants you, not your works.” She was perfectly happy after that.

Our Judgment

At the moment of death, we will not be judged by the amount of work we have done but by the weight of love we have put into our work. This love should flow from self—sacrifice and it must be felt to the point of hurting. Death, in the final analysis, is only the easiest and quickest means to go back to God.

The Moment of Death

If only we could make people understand that we come from God and that we have to go back to Him! Death is the most decisive moment in human life. It is like our coronation: to die in peace with God.

Christ’s Condition

In order to make us deserve Heaven, Christ set a condition: At the moment of our death, you and I, whoever we might have been and wherever we have lived, Christians and non-Christians alike, every human being who has been created by the loving hand of God in His own image, shall stand in His presence and be judged according to what we have been for the poor, what we have done for them. Here a beautiful standard for judgment presents itself.

Beautiful Death

Death can be something beautiful. It is like going home. He who dies in God goes home even though we naturally miss the person who has gone. But it is something beautiful. That person has gone home to God.


For more of the saints’ insights, see here.


Photo by Evert Odekerken, used with a Creative Commons license. 

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