Doctor reveals saint’s view of purpose of life


Photo by: Rachael Alexander

A guest speaker spoke to students about compassion and the purpose of life according to St. Teresa of Calcutta, in a talk in the Gentile Gallery Monday, Nov. 18. 

Cardiologist Dr. Paul Wright began his talk by speaking about the human search for what it means to live a good life. He said the greatest books ever written try to define the meaning of a good life, but he discovered the true meaning firsthand when he met St. Teresa. 

Wright explained to the audience that he had a burning question: “I want to know what Jesus is going to say at the moment of my death,” he said. 

He had the opportunity to ask St. Teresa when she was in California recovering from a heart attack. When he was allowed to see her and ask his question, she responded with Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 25. “I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink,” Wright quoted. 

St. Teresa told him that Christ comes into the world disguised as the poor and the oppressed, and no matter how well we do our jobs, it has no value in God’s eyes unless it is motivated by love and compassion. Wright explained that each person must remember who he or she is serving and pray through the work, so the whole day can be a prayer. 

After this meeting, Wright and St. Teresa began to work together. He asked her if she could teach him compassion, to which she said, “‘I can’t teach you compassionyou have to see it.’” So, she invited him to Calcutta.  

While he was there, he found he could not help St. Teresa bathe a woman who had wet gangrene, due to the horrible smell. Wright told the audience he had sat outside feeling incapable until St. Teresa joined him. Wright explained that she told him, “You can’t do what we do, and I can’t do what you do, but together, we do something beautiful for Jesus. You can’t be all things to all people.” 

Wright told students they must find something they enjoy doing and serve humanity and Christ through that. This is the definition of success, he said: to serve humanity with compassion.  

Graduate student Elise Chabot said the talk “was wonderful. Dr. Paul was full of joy and love for Christ and sharing the message of peace he encountered in Mother Teresa.”