Monday, September 11, 2006

I miss Mother’s advice…

Not only my own mother’s of course, but also that of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who died on September 5, 1997.

When I was younger I thought that the world was full of leaders in abundance, and that saints were rare.

Sometimes I wonder now if unknown, nameless saints are actually abounding. What seems fairly clear to me now, however, is that there are far fewer leaders around than I actually thought. There is a great dearth of real leaders in the world now, in a world desperately crying out for leadership. Mother Teresa was a rare combination of living sainthood and strong leadership.

The other day I was cleaning up some files on my laptop, and came across a Word document I’d saved from somewhere with quotes from Mother Teresa. I didn’t save the URL and I wasn’t able to find it again with a search, so I apologize to whoever the source was that pulled all of these together. It wasn’t me.

The following quotations are mostly from Mother Teresa's book "Words To Love By".
All souls need to be converted.
And if they accept God in their lives
they are converted.
To grow in holiness is a sign of conversion.
To grow in likeness of Christ is a sign of conversion.

I love all religions and am in love with my own.

Jesus has said very clearly:
I am the love to be loved
I am the life to be lived
I am the joy to be shared
I am the bread to be eaten
I am the blood to be drunk
I am the truth to be told
I am the light to be lit
I am the peace to be given.
Jesus is everything.

It hurt Jesus to love you and me.

Just allow people to see Jesus in you
to see how you pray
to see how you lead a pure life
to see how you deal with your family
to see how much peace there is in your family.
Then you can look straight into their eyes and say,
"This is the way."
You speak from life, you speak from experience.

Really, God is very much in love with us.

The work we do is only our love for Jesus in action.
And that action is our wholehearted and free service
--the gift to the poorest of the poor--
to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor.

If we pray the work...
if we do it to Jesus
if we do it for Jesus
if we do it with Jesus...
that's what makes us content.

That is why I feel the Missionaries of Charity are real contemplatives
in the heart of the world.

I do this because I believe I am doing it for Jesus.
I am very sure that this is his work.
I am very sure.
I am very sure that it is he and not me.

I had the most extraordinary experience once in Bombay. There was a big conference about hunger. I was supposed to go to that meeting and I lost the way. Suddenly I came to that place, and right in front of the door to where hundreds of people were talking about food and hunger, I found a dying man.
I took him out and I took him home.
He died there.
He died of hunger.
And the people inside were talking about how in 15 years we will have so much food, so much this, so much that, and that man died.

We are trying to make our communities another Nazareth, where Jesus can come and rest awhile.

Jesus went about doing good And we are trying to imitate him now because I believe that God loves the world through us.

The sisters are always smiling and happy.
We are so free...we are so free.

By having nothing we will be able to give everything
--through the freedom of poverty.

Faith is a gift of God but God does not force himself.

Christians, Muslims, Hindus, believers and nonbelievers
have the opportunity with us to do works of love
have the opportunity with us to share the joy of
loving and come to realize God's presence.
Hindus become better Hindus.
Catholics become better Catholics.
Muslims become better Muslims.

Changing places is not the answer.
Changing occupations is not the answer.
The answer is to change our hearts.

And how do we change?
By praying.

Prayer is joy
prayer is love
prayer is peace.
You cannot explain it
you must experience prayer.
It is not impossible.
God gives it for the asking.
"Ask and you shall receive."

The beginning of prayer is silence...God speaking
in the silence of the heart. And then we start talking to God
from the fullness of the heart. And he listens.

The beginning of prayer is scripture...we listen to
God speaking. And then we begin to speak to him again
from the fullness of our heart. And he listens.
That is really prayer. Both sides listening and both sides

Allowing him to live his life in us
is prayer.
And the more we allow him
the more we grow in likeness of Christ.

We need prayer to understand God's love for us.

The fruit of prayer is a deepening faith.
And the fruit of faith is love.
And the fruit of love is service.

But to be able to pray we need silence
silence of the heart.
The soul needs time to go away and pray
to use the mouth
to use the eyes
to use the whole body.
And if we don't have that silence
then we don't know how to pray.

We have ups and downs and sickness and suffering.
That is part of the cross.
Anyone who imitates him to the full
must share in his passion also.

We must bring the child back, make the child feel wanted.
Without the child there is no hope.

A family in Australia with six or seven children talked
together and decided not to buy a new television. They
wanted to enjoy each other more completely.

Suffering is a gift of God
a gift that makes us most Christlike.
People must not accept suffering as punishment.

We have a great people among us,
only we do not know it.
They are the poorest of the poor--
the unwanted
the uncared for
the rejected
the alcoholics
the crippled
the blind
the sick
the dying--
people who have nothing and nobody.

Their very life is a prayer.
They continually intercede for us
without knowing it.
That's why I say that the Home for the Dying
(in Calcutta)
is a treasure house for the whole archdiocese.

Because we do not pray enough, we see only the
human part.
We don't see the divine.
And we resent it.

Jesus made himself the Bread of Life
to make sure we understand what he is saying
to satisfy our hunger for him
to satisfy our love for him.
Even that is not enough for him
so he makes himself the hungry one
so we can satisfy his hunger for our love.
And by doing to the poor what we are doing
we are satisfying his hunger for our love.

This is the true reason for our existence
to be the sunshine of God's love
to be the hope of eternal happiness.
That's all.

It is not how much we do
but how much love we put into the doing
--a lifelong sharing of love with others.

Christ is really living his passion in these homes.
In our people you can see Calvary.

I never look at the masses as my responsibility.
I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can
feed only one person at a time.
Just one, just one...
You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each
other. As Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the
least of my brethren, you do it to me."
So you begin...I begin.
I picked up one person--
maybe if I didn't pick up that one person I wouldn't have picked up 42,000.
The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if I didn't put the drop in,
the ocean would be one drop less.
Same thing for you
same thing in your family
same thing in the church where you go
just, one, one.

Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly
that our lives may only be a radiance of yours...
Shine through us
and be so in us
that every soul we come in contact with
may feel your presence in our soul....
Let us preach you without preaching
not by words, but by our example
by the catching force
the sympathetic influence of what we do
the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you.


crystal said...

Thanks for that, Jeff. I'm sad to say that I didn't really know much about Mother Teresa, aside from what's known about her in popular culture, until I read of her in James Martin's book about saints.

Liam said...

Hey, Jeff, it's nice to see you posting -- I was beginning to wonder where you were (I tend to worry about people like I was someone's grandmother).

This is a great text. I like how she shows how the active and contemplative life are not mutually exclusive.

Jeff said...

Hi Crystal and Liam.

Crystal, is that book by Fr. Martin My Life With The Saints? Do you recommend it?

Sorry I haven't been around much. I was out of town on business for a few days, and I see you've both put up some excellent and thought-provoking posts. Give me a litle bit of time, and I'll catch up...

Mother Teresa was a fascinating woman. If you get the chance, you should check out the documentary on her that was filmed by Anne and Jeanette Petrie. It is probably available at you parish or at your local public library.


crystal said...


yes, I do recommend My Life With The Saints. I posted about it once, and Fr. Martin saw it somehow and emailed me to thank me ... he's very nice. His book is well written and is a kind of personal journey from before he became a Jesuit until the present, telling how different saints (and proto-saints) influenced him in different ways. It's interesting if only to get a glimpse into what being a Jesuit is like.

btw, glad you're back to blogging - missed you :-)