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Mother Teresa on Christianity and Other Religions
The following passages are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book "We Do it for Jesus," by Edward Le Joly.
1. A Government official told me (Mother Teresa): “Tell the truth, you would like me to become a Christian, you are praying for that? I answered him: “When you possess something really good you wish your friends to share it with you. Now, I think that Christ is the best thing in the world and would like all men to know Him and love Him as I do. But faith in Christ is a gift of God, who gives it to whom He likes.” The gentleman went away satisfied. (109)
The following passages are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book "One Heart Full of Love," edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado.
1. Faith, we must remember, is a gift from God. One of our co-workers asked me once, “Do you want us to become Catholics like you? “ I answered, “I would like to give you the treasure that I possess, but it is not in my hands to give it to anyone, because it is a gift from God. What I am doing is giving you the opportunity to do works of charity. Through these works, you come closer to God because works of charity brings you closer to God. When God comes to you or you go to God, then you will have the chance to accept Him or reject Him. Accepting Him is the gift of faith.” (68)
2. I receive many applications from many congregations. Many religious from different congregations want to join the Missionaries of Charity. I always tell them, “Truly live according to your rule. You will have no reason to change.” Indeed, the constitutions approved by the church have the written Word of God. Therefore, let us ask for the grace to remain faithful to our constitutions and to belong only to Jesus.
Pray for us that we won’t spoil the work God has given us to do. As for me, I will pray and ask my sisters to pray for you. We will pray that you may grow in holiness through faithfulness to your rules and constitutions that have been approved by the church for the glory of God. There is no surer way to great holiness. May God bless you!. (140)
3. Q: What happens then with the followers of other religions such as Islam or Hinduism? Are they blessed by God also? Does God work in their midst also?
A: God has His own ways of working in the hearts of men, and we do not know how close He is to each one. We have no right to condemn, to judge, or to say things that can hurt other people for their beliefs. It is possible that a person has never heard a word about Christianity. Then we do not know how God is revealing Himself to that soul, or in what way God is forming it. So who are we to condemn anyone?
Q: Do you mean that it doesn’t matter what a person believe?
A: I am not saying that it doesn’t matter what a person believes. I believe that God has created each soul, that that soul belongs to God, and that each soul has to find God in its own lifetime and enter into his life. That is what is important. All of us need to seek God and find Him. (119)
4. Mother Teresa wrote to the then Prime Minister of India, Morarji Desai, on march 26, 1979. If it had been passed, it would have disastrous for Christianity and other religions in India.
“Religion is not something that you and I can dictate. Religion is the worship of God, and therefore it is a matter of conscience. Each one of us must decide how we are going to worship. In my case, the religion that I live and practice is Roman Catholicism. It is my life, my joy, and the greatest proof of God’s love for me. No one can deny that I dearly love my people more than myself and that logically I want to share the joy of having this treasure with them. But it does not depend upon me. I cannot force anyone to accept my religion---just as no man, no law, and no government can legally demand that anyone reject a religion that promises them peace, joy, and love. It is said that Mahatma Gandhi commented, “If Christians lived according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, there would not be one Hindu left in India.”
This bill that is pending before Parliament under the guise of religious freedom is a deception. There is no freedom if a person is not free to choose according to the dictates of his conscience. Our brethren from Arunachal are fearful. Up until now they had lived in peace, but now religious excuses have began to be used to destroy the love that they have for one another, just because some are Christians. But others are Hindus and still others are Muslims.
Some in our country call God Ishwar. Others call Him Allah. And others just call Him God. Every one of us has to recognize that He created us for greater things, such as to love and be loved. Who are we to keep our people from looking for God who has created them, who loves them, and to whom all must return one day?
Gandhi, the father of our country, said, “He who serves the poor serves God.” I spend hours and hours helping the poor, the dying, the unwanted, the despised, the lepers, and the insane. I do it because I love God. I know that whatever I do for my brothers it is as if I did it for Him. The only motive and joy in my life is to love Him and serve Him in the oppressed poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the homeless. By working this way, I am proclaiming the love and compassion of God for each one of my brothers and sisters who suffers.
Mr. Desai and gentlemen of Parliament, in the name of God, do not destroy the freedom that our people have always had to love and serve God according to their consciences and their beliefs. Do not look down on the Hindu religion, saying that the poor Hindu people sell their religion for a plate of rice. I have a lot of experience, and I have never seen such a thing happen, even though we feed thousands of hungry from every religion and caste. Thousands of them have died in our arms.
I ask you, I beg you, to declare a day of prayer for the entire nation. We Catholics have asked all of our brothers and sisters to observe a day of fasting, prayer, and sacrifice to preserve peace and unity in our country, so that India may continue to enjoy its noble tradition of religious freedom.
I ask you to propose a similar day for all the religious communities in the nation, so that we may live in peace, unity, and love. May we all have hearts overflowing with love as a reflection of God’s love. God’s love is what can save our families, our country, and the entire world. (105-107)
The following passages are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book "The Joy in Loving," compiled by Jaya Chalika and Edward Le Joly.
1."I love all religions but I am in love with my own. If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there. They come closer to God. When they come closer to God they have to choose." (24 July)
2."We have absolutely no difficulty regarding having to work in countries with many faiths. We treat all people as children of God. They are our brothers and sisters. We show great respect to them. Our work is to encourage these people, Christians as well as non-Christians, to do works of love. Every work of love done with a full heart brings people closer to God" (7 April)
3. "In Yemen, which is a Muslim country, I asked one of the rich people to build a Masjid there. People needed a place to pray, I said to him. They are all Muslim brothers and sisters. They need a place where they can meet God" (16 June)
4. Our purpose is to take God and His love to the poorest of the poor, irrespective of their ethnic origin or the faith they profess.
Our discernment of aid is not the belief but the necessity. In our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists or agnostics become for this reason better men---simply better---we will be satisfied. Growing up in God’s love they will be nearer to God and will find Him in His goodness. (11 November)
5. Whether one is Hindu or a Muslim or a Christian, how you live your life is proof that you are or not fully His.
We cannot condemn or judge or pass words that will hurt people. We don’t know in what way God is appearing to that soul and what God is drawing that soul to; therefore, who are we to condemn anybody? (25 November)
6. Religion is not something that you or I can touch. Religion is the worship of God---therefore a matter of conscience. I alone must decide for myself and you for yourself, what we choose. For me the religion I live and use to worship God is the Catholic religion. For me this is my very life, my joy and the greatest gift of God in His love for me. He could have given me no greater gift. (16 July)
7. I love my people very much, more than myself, and so naturally I wish to give them the joy of possessing the treasure that is my religion, but it is not mine to give, nor can I force it on anyone. So also no man, no law, no government has the right to prevent or force me, or anyone; if I choose to embrace the religion that gives me peace, joy and love. (17 July)
The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa are from the book “In My Own Words,” compiled by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado.
1. We all have the duty to serve God where we are called to do so. I feel called to serve individuals, to love each human being. My calling is not to judge the institutions. I am not qualified to condemn anyone. I never think in terms of a crowd, but of individual persons.
If I thought in terms of crowds, I would never begin my work.
I believe in the personal touch of one to one.
If others are convinced that God wants them to change social structures, that is a matter for them to take up with God. (99)
2. In order to be Christians, we should resemble Christ; of this I am firmly convinced.
Gandhi once said that if Christians lived according to their faith, there would be no more Hindu left in India.
People expect us to be consistent with our Christian life. (100)
3. Gandhi felt fascinated at knowing Christ. He met Christians, and felt let down. (98)
4. Often we Christians constitute the worst obstacle for those who try to become closer to Christ; we often preach a gospel we do not live. This is the principle reason why people of the world don’t believe.(100)
5. A man, a follower of the Hindu religion, came to our Home for the Dying in Kalighat at a time when I was busy curing the wounds of a sick person. He watched me for a while in silence. Then he said, “Since it gives you the strength to do what you do, I have no doubt that your religion has to be true.” (99)
6. If we truly understand the Eucharist; if we make the Eucharist the central focus of our lives; if we feed our lives with the Eucharist, we will not find it difficult to discover Christ, to love Him, and to serve Him in the poor. (97)
7. The Eucharist is something more than simply receiving Christ. It supposes that we satisfy His hunger.
Christ invites us, “Come to Me.”
Christ hungers for souls.
Nowhere in the gospel has Christ ever uttered an expression of rejection. Rather, we always find an invitation: “Come to Me.” (97)
8. God is a Father who forgives.
His mercy is greater than our sin.
He will forgive our sin---but let us try not to commit the sin again. (100)
9. The Church is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
The apostles, too, experienced fear and mistrust, depression and failures. In spite of all this, Christ did not rebuke them. He simply told them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38)
Jesus’ kind words are also appropriate for our fears today. (101)
10. “What is a Christian?” someone asked a Hindu man. He responded, “The Christian is someone who gives.” (17)
11. Let us not be satisfied just by giving money. Money is not everything. Money is something you can get.
The poor need the work of our hands, the love of our hearts.
Love, an abundant love, is the expression of our Christian religion. (80)
12. My secret is a very simple one: I pray. To pray to Christ is to love Him. (8)
13. I am asked what is one to do to be sure that one is following the way of salvation. I answer: “Love God. And, above all, pray.” (11)
The following passages are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book "Love: A Fruit always in Season" edited by Dorothy S. Hunt.
1. To convert is to bring to Christ (49)
To convert is to bring to God. To sanctify is to fill with God. To convert and sanctify is the work of God, but God has chosen in His great mercy the Missionaries of Charity to help Him in His own work. It is a special grace granted to the Missionaries of Charity with no merit on their part to carry the light of Christ into the dark holes and slums. (The Love of Christ: Spiritual Counsels, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 99)
2. I hope to convert hearts (49)
Oh, I hope I am converting. I don’t mean what you think. I hope we are converting hearts. Not even Almighty God can convert a person unless that person wants it. What we are all trying to do by our work, by serving the people, is to come closer to God. If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are, and then by being better we come closer and closer to Him. If we accept Him fully in our lives, then that is conversion. What approach would I use? For me, naturally, it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else, Buddhist, according to one’s conscience. What God is in your mind you must accept. But I cannot prevent myself from trying to give you what I have. (Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, 136)
3. Conversion cannot be forced (50)
I am not afraid to say I am in love with Jesus because He is everything to me. But you may have a different picture in your life. And this is the way that conversion has to be understood—people think that conversion is just changing overnight. It is not like that. Nobody, not even your father and mother, can make you do that. Not even Almighty God can force a person. Even Jesus, though He was God Himself, could not convert the hearts of the people unless they allowed Him to. (Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, 136—137)
4. Growing in Love (51)
Our purpose is to take God and His love to the poorest of the poor, irrespective of their ethnic origin or the faith that they profess. Our discernment of aid is not the belief but the necessity. We never try to convert those who receive to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists or agnostics become for this reason better men—--simply better—--we will be satisfied. Growing up in love they will be nearer to God and will find Him in His goodness. (Life in the Spirit, 81)
5. No matter what religion, what matters is that we love (132)
Some call Him Ishwar, some call Him Allah, some simply God, but we all have to acknowledge that it is He who made us for greater things: to love and to be loved. What matters is that we love. We cannot love without prayer, and so whatever religion we are we must pray together. (Life in the Spirit, 82)
6. God works in His own ways (133)
Every human being comes from the hand of God and we all know what is the love of God for us. My religion is everything to me but for every individual, according to the grace God has given that soul.
God has His own ways and means to work in the hearts of men, and we do not know how close they are to Him, but by their actions we will always know whether they are at His disposal or not. . . . We must not condemn or judge or pass words that will hurt people. Maybe a person has never heard of Christianity. We do not know what way God is appearing to that soul and what way God is drawing that soul, and there fore, who are we to condemn anybody? (Life in the Spirit, 81—82)
7. We all work as one (135)
We have absolutely no difficulty regarding having to work in countries with many faiths, like India. We treat all people as children of God. They are our brothers and sisters. We show great respect to them.
Our work is to encourage these Christians and non-Christians to do works of love. And every work of love, done with a full heart, always brings people closer to God.
If they accept God in their lives, then they are a co-worker. If they don’t, it’s their answer (My Life for the Poor, 21).
The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “Stories of mother Teresa,” edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado
1. “If anyone thinks and believes that the way he or she is taking is the only way toward God, that is the way God will take. If one knows no other way, one has no doubts and does not feel the need to keep searching for another way, that is the way to salvation. That is the way God will take to reach that person.” (Stories of Mother Teresa,17)
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