Honoring St. Teresa of Calcutta

This September marks 25 years since the death of St. Teresa of Calcutta. In her honor, HPR features these two poems by Michael Grumbine.

Love Afire


A beggar, gaunt, was known to us,

Though harshness claimed his life,

He endured despair and want,

Rejection, pain and strife.


Beaten down, he faltered . . . fell,

The flies there came to feast,

With stricken flesh he moaned aloud,

“See here, the least of least!”


You and I, we sighed in pity,

And railed against his fate.

“How awful one should ever be,

In such a sorry state.”


Then shrugged our shoulders in retreat,

And sadly walked away,

To beat our breast e’er helplessly,

As we our distance stay.


But came there to this sodden man

A heart of love afire,

So quietly this angel drawn

By truest faith’s desire.


She whispers softly in his ear,

With sweetness to refresh,

And gathers up this fallen soul,

This man of tortured flesh.


She noticed not his vile stench,

Nor saw a wretched face,

His crumpled form was drawn to her,

And held in warm embrace.


’Tis He, her spouse, whom she now held,

’Twas Jesus whom she’d found,

Her Love, her Life, her sweetest Lord,

Her loving arms surround.


Heaven bending down to man,

Need and glory meet,

He, a sign of all our loss,

Her, of grace complete.


And lo! the miracle begins!

As Mother tenders care,

A fire is lit within his soul,

Where once was but despair.


Through her heart of faithful love,

Grace opens Heaven’s door,

Her softest kiss . . . he gently sighs,

Then of this world no more.


But did you see a smile grow

Upon his dying face?

The herald of a joyous hope

That death could not erase?


Oh cruel Death! You crushing foe!

Your conquest of my brother

May well have been a bitter loss,

But for the love of Mother.


Lord grant that I might be as she

Who counseled no restraint,

In offering love’s holy fire,

And thus . . . become a saint.


The Bride


When Mother left, our tears did flow,

We loved her saintly heart,

We loved her smiling wrinkled face,

And wished to never part.


But such was never meant to be,

Our home does not lie here.

Sweet angels wait at Heaven’s door,

For when our time draws near,


And standing next to mighty wings,

A beggar-man did wait.

He tarried there for she who loved,

On watch at Heaven’s Gate.


He shouts with joy as Mother comes,

And calls out to the poor,

“Oh look! ’tis she, our Mother dear!

Make haste unto the Lord!”


Their cheer rose up, a roar of love,

The orphans and the small,

The poor and lepers, all now blessed,

Their King they come to call.


“Oh Mighty Lord, we plead with You,

This is she, the one,

A Mother to our faith and hope,

True bride of Truest Son.


“We ask of You, we beg of You,

Call forth your Seraphim!

Let all the host of Heaven go,

To greet with sweetest hymn.”


A Lordly nod, the edict done,

A cloud of saints arose,

The glory of Jerusalem,

Its greeting thus bestows.


Yet still a Court it was to be,

For judgment comes to all,

The advocates a countless sea,

. . . and accusers from the Fall.


There stood Satan dark before,

The glow of brightest praise,

And though his pride did goad him on,

His voice he could not raise,


Except to moan before the Court,

“Now let this torment end,

I have no purpose in this place,

With one I failed to rend.


“Her sight to me is sorry loss,

On this it is agreed,

I cannot bear her loathsome light,

Give leave! Give leave! I plead!”


The Lord of Hosts then turned His eyes,

And with a regal gaze

Gave answer to the darkened one,

With countenance ablaze.


And as He spoke, the Heavens shook

And demons screeched below,

For judgment would He now pronounce,

To evildoer’s woe.


“Thou hate-filled one, a son-no-more,

Your leave I give you not,

Justice demands you pay the price,

And drink your bitter draught.


“If you shall ravage man with death,

Then ravaged be by love,

Give witness to her radiance,

My precious one, my dove.”


With these words, His voice made soft,

And tenderness appeared,

The Power of the Universe,

No longer to be feared.


Lord of Judgment and Mercy,

He turned His eyes to her,

And rapture did take hold in them,

Love infinite, bestir.


A Lion tamed to gentleness,

A Husband to His bride,

The Son of God and King of Glory,

Smiled with deepest pride.


“O daughter, my beloved one,

My sister, dearest bride!

How long my heart has ached for you,

To take you to my side!


“Come unto Me my cherished one,

To consummate your vow,

Unite your soul unto my own,

And ecstasy allow!”


Then Heaven’s bride forgot her age,

Her joy made beauty, rare,

Most lovely lady now reborn,

A bride exceeding fair.


Her smile did glow as ne’er before,

Sweet eyes showed all desire,

Hands that trembled now were strong,

With Love’s eternal fire.


No words may say what next became,

One dare not offer more,

Full glory suffers no refrain,

The earth-bound may explore.


Yet angels whisper now a tale,

That in their eyes that day,

A wondrous glistening did flow,

With those in Court, array’d.


The law of happiness in Heav’n

Forbids a tear employ.

But witnesses shall ever add…

“Save those of purest joy.”


For in the sorrow of our loss,

Is greater glory born,

And she who loved, forgets us not . . .

Still blessing those who mourn.

Michael Grumbine About Michael Grumbine

Michael Grumbine is the founder of Shield of Roses International (pro-life sidewalk counseling apostolate), currently resides in Tagaytay City, Philippines, and serves in local parishes as Lector trainer, Lay Eucharistic Minister and Pre-Cana speaker. He has a BA in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, California, and is the father of 10 children and grandfather to 35 grandchildren. He can be reached at michaelgrumbine@gmail.com.