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Mother Teresa on Day by Day
The following passages are taken from the book, “A Life for God,” compiled by LaVonne Neff and published in 1995.
Seven hundred and fifty years ago, St. Richard of Chichcstcr wrote a prayer that is still remembered and prayed today. A form of it even became popular during the seventies as the song “Day by Day” from the musical Godspell.
The prayer’s appeal comes from its rhythm and thyme, but also from its total dedication to Jesus Christ in head (“know thee more dearly”), heart (“love thee more dearly”), and hand (“follow thee more nearly”).
This whole-person devotion to the Lord is a hallmark of Mother Teresa’s life and sayings. Daily she and her Missionaries of Charity seek a more intimate knowledge of Christ before they follow him into the streets in service to others and again after they return home. They bathe their prayer and their work in love.
Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given us, for all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for us. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may we know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly; for thine own sake.
Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given us. . .
1.”Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15):
You are God.
You are God from God.
You are begotten not made.
You are one in substance with the Father
You are the Son of the Living God.
You are the second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
You are One with the Father.
You are in the Father from the beginning.
All things were made by you and the Father.
You are the beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased.
You are the Son of Mary, conceived by the Holy Spine in the womb of Mary.
You were born in Bethlehem.
You were wrapped in swaddling clothes by Mary and put in a manger full of straw.
You were kept warm by the breath of the donkey who carried your mother with you in her womb.
You are the Son of Joseph, the carpenter as known by the people of Nazareth.
You are an ordinary man without much learning, as judged by the learned people of Israel. (116)
2. Who is Jesus to me?
Jesus is the Word made flesh.
Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the cross.
Jesus is the sacrifice offered at holy Mass for the sins of the world and for mine.
Jesus is the Word—--to be spoken.
Jesus is the truth—--to be told.
Jesus is the way—--to be walked.
Jesus is the light—--to be lit.
Jesus is the life—--to be lived.
Jesus is the love—--to be loved.
Jesus is the joy—--to be shared.
Jesus is the sacrifice—--to be offered.
Jesus is the peace—--to be given.
Jesus is the Bread of Life—--to be eaten.
Jesus is the hungry—--to be fed.
Jesus is the thirsty—--to be satiated.
Jesus is the naked—--to be clothed.
Jesus is the homeless—--to be taken in.
Jesus is the sick—--to be healed.
Jesus is the lonely—--to be loved.
Jesus is the unwanted—--to be wanted.
Jesus is the leper—--to wash his wounds.
Jesus is the beggar—--to give him a smile.
Jesus is the drunkard—--to listen to him.
Jesus is the mentally ill—--to protect him.
Jesus is the little one—--to embrace him.
Jesus is the blind—--to lead him.
Jesus is the dumb—--to speak for him.
Jesus is the crippled—--to walk with him.
Jesus is the drug addict—--to befriend him.
Jesus is the prostitute—--to remove from danger and befriend her.
Jesus is the prisoner—--to be visited.
Jesus is the old—--to be served. (116)
3. To me:
Jesus is my God.
Jesus is my spouse.
Jesus is my life.
Jesus is my only love.
Jesus is my all in all.
Jesus is my everything.
JESUS, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being.
I have given him all, even my sins, and he has espoused me to himself in all tenderness and love.
Now and for life I am the spouse of my crucified Spouse. (117)
4. Today, when everything is questioned and changed, let us go back to Nazareth. Jesus had come to redeem the world, to teach us the love of his Father. How strange that he should spend thirty years just doing nothing, wasting his time! Not giving expression to his personality or to his gifts! We know that at the age of twelve he silenced the learned priests of the Temple, who knew so much and so well. But when his parents found him, he went down to Nazareth and was subject to them. For twenty years we hear no more of him, so that the people were astonished when he came in public to preach. He, a carpenter’s son, doing just the humble work in a carpenter’s shop for thirty years! (117)
5. Some years have gone by but I will never forget a young French girl who came to Calcutta one day.
She looked so worried. She went to work in our home for dying destitutes. Then, after ten days, she came to see me.
She hugged me and said, “I’ve found Jesus!”
I asked where the found Jesus.
“In the home for dying destitutes,” she answered.
“And what did you do after you found him?”
“I went to confession and Holy Communion for the first time in fifteen years.”
Then I said again, “What else did you do?”
“I sent my parents a telegram saying that I found Jesus.”
I looked at her and I said, “Now, pack up and go home. Go home and give joy, love, and peace to your parents.”
She went home radiating joy, because her heart was filled with joy. She went home, and what joy she brought to her family!
Because she had lost the innocence of her youth and had gotten it back again. (118)
6. Let us begin our way of the cross with cheer and joy because through Holy Communion we have Jesus with us. We have Jesus, the Bread of Life, who gives us life and strength. His joy is our strength, and his passion is also our vigor. Without him we can do nothing. (118)
7. Let us be like a genuine and fruitful branch of the vine, which is Christ accepting him in our lives the way he gives himself to us: as truth, which must be spoken; as life, which must be lived; as light, which must shine out; as love, which must be loved; as a way, which must be trodden; as joy, which must be communicated; as peace, which must be radiated; as sacrifice, which must be offered in our families, to our closest neighbors, and to those who live far away. (118)
...for all the pain and insults which thou has borne for us.
8. We do not accept poverty because we are forced to be poor but because we choose to be poor for the love of Jesus; because he, being rich, became poor for love of us. Let us not deceive ourselves. (119)
9. Jesus, you have died; you have given everything, life, blood, all. Now it is my turn.
The common soldier fights in the ordinary lines, but the devoted one tries to be near the captain to share his fate. This is the only truth, the only thing that matters, for it is the spirit of Christ. (119)
10. Each time Jesus wanted to prove his love for us, he was rejected by mankind. Before his birth his parents asked for a simple dwelling place and they were given none because they were poor. The innkeeper probably looked at Joseph the carpenter and decided that he would not be able to pay. So he refused. But Mother Earth opened a cave and took in the Son of God.
Again, before the redemption and the resurrection, Jesus was rejected by his people. They did not want him—--they wanted Caesar; they did not want him—--they wanted Barabbas. At the end, it was as if his own Father did not want him because he was covered with our sins. In His loneliness He cried, “My God, My God why has thou forsaken Me?” (119)
Yesterday is always today to God. Therefore, today in the world Jesus stands covered with our sins, in the distressing disguise of my sister, my brother. Do I want him? If we are not careful, soon the riches of the worldly spirit will become an obstacle. We will not be able to see God, for Jesus has said: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”
People rejected Jesus because his poverty was hurting their riches. My sisters, do our poor reject us because our riches hurt their poverty? Can we look straight in the face of the poor and say with a sincere heart: “I know poverty; she is my companion: I love poverty; she is my mother.” “I serve poverty she is my mistress.” (119)
11. When he showed his heart to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus said again and again, “Love me as I have loved you.” “Impossible,” she said, “the only way I can do it is if you take my heart and give me yours.” Let us ask Jesus sincerely, “Let me share your loneliness, your being unloved, uncared for.” Do something today to share in the passion. Maybe Jesus is asking something of you in a special way, maybe something small. If he is not asking you, it might be because you are holding very tightly to something. He will never force it out of you. Maybe he wants you just to smile, to say “May I,” to be on time, or to give up an unhealthy friendship. (120)
12. Even though he no longer needs to take up his cross and walk toward Calvary, today—--in you, in me, in the youth of our world--— Jesus continues to endure his passion. The small child, the child full of hunger who eats his bread crumb by crumb because he is afraid of running out of bread before running out of hunger—--that is the first station of the cross. (120)
13. Today small beings are deprived of love even before birth. They have to die because we do not want one more child. That child has to be left naked because we do not want him. Jesus bore that unspeakable suffering. This unborn child bears it because no other possibility is offered him. But I can want him, love him, care for him. This child is my brother, my sister. (120)
14. It is good for us to focus on our Lord and ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus like that? Do I really accept the joy of loving by sharing in his passion?” Because even today Jesus is looking for somebody to console and comfort him.
You remember what happened in Gethsemane: Jesus was longing for somebody to share in his agony. The same thing happens in our lives. Can he share his sorrow with us? Are you there to comfort him?
He comes to you in the hungry
He comes to you in the naked.
He comes to you in the lonely.
He comes to you in the drunkard.
He comes to you in the prostitute.
He comes to you in the street person.
He may come to you in the lonely father, or mother, or sister, or brother in your own family.
Are you willing to share the joy of his love with them? (120)
15. I have the impression that the passion of Christ is being relived everywhere. Are we willing to share in this passion? Are we willing to share people’s sufferings, not only in poor countries but all over the world?
It seems to me that this great poverty of suffering in the West is much harder to solve. When I pick up some starving person off the street and offer him a bowl of rice or a piece of bread, I can satisfy his hunger. But a person that has been beaten or feels unwanted or unloved or fearful or rejected by society—--that person experiences a kind of poverty that is much more painful and deep. Its cure is much more difficult to find. Our sisters work among these kinds of people in the West. They share in the passion of Christ. (121
16. Let’s fix our eyes on the cross. What do we see? We see his head bent down to kiss us. Look at his hands. They say, “I love you!” We see his arms stretched out on the cross as if to embrace us. We see his heart opened wide to receive us. That is the cross, which is represented by the crucifix that most of us have in our homes. Each time we glance at it, it should help us to fall in love with Christ. It should help us to love him with sincerity of heart. What greater love is there than God’s love for each one of us? His love isn’t a fantasy. It is real. (121)
0 most merciful redeemer, friend, and brother, may we know thee more clearly...
17. We have to possess before we can give. He who has the mission of giving to others must grow first in the knowledge of God. He must be full of that knowledge. (122)
18. Knowledge will make you strong as death. Love Jesus generously. Love him trustfully, without looking back and without fear. Give yourself fully to Jesus—--he will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your weakness. Believe in him—--trust in him with blind and absolute confidence because he is Jesus. Believe that Jesus and Jesus alone is life—--and sanctity is nothing but that same Jesus intimately living in you; then his hand will be free with you. Give yourself unswervingly, conforming yourself in all things to his holy will which is made known to you through your superior. (122)
19. If day after day we devote ourselves to the perfect fulfillment of our spiritual duties, he will gradually admit us to a closer intimacy so that even outside the time dedicated to prayer we shall find no difficulty in remaining conscious of the divine presence. On the other hand, the diligent practice of the presence of God by means of fervent aspirations in our labors and in our recreations will be rewarded with more abundant graces. We must endeavor to live alone with Jesus in the sanctuary of our inmost heart. (122)
20. From the moment a soul has the grace to know God, he must seek. If he does not seek, he is going astray from the just way. God offers all souls created by him an opportunity to meet him face-to-face, to accept him or to reject him. (122)
21. The aim of taking a retreat is to advance in the knowledge and love of God, to purify ourselves, and to reform and transform our lives according to the life of our model, Jesus Christ. It is a time of greater silence, of more fervent prayer, of special penance, and more intense spiritual activity. It is not so much a looking back on the achievements and failure of the past, as a looking forward to a more generous imitation of our Lord himself. (122)
22. Jesus must be brought to every man and woman. Jesus is the only answer. You, as Co-workers, must be free yourselves. If you use the name “Mother Teresa” in your work, that is only because it is a means to serving and loving Christ in the poor. In the bottom of your heart, you must be convinced that you and I are together co- workers of Christ. As such, you must be very close to him. You must share with him. You must be at his complete disposal.
The last time we had a meeting of Co-worker coordinators in the United States, I told them, “Every Co-worker must be at Christ’s disposal to such a degree that Christ can make use of him without having to ask, May I? Can’t I? Will you allow me? In other words, without previous consent.”
It is something very beautiful and freeing to be able to gave ourselves fully to Jesus, each of us in our own way,each of us in own family. (123)
23. Christ has chosen you so that you will be able to live out precisely this great vocation: your loving vocation as Co-workers. Why you and not others? Why me and not others? I do not know; it is a mystery. But being together should help us to deepen our knowledge of God, and that knowledge will lead us to love him, and love will lead us to serve him. (123)
24. The simplicity aspect of our life of contemplation makes us see the face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and his hand in all the happenings, and makes us do all that we do--— whether we think, study, work, speak, eat, or take our rest—--in Jesus, with Jesus, for Jesus and to Jesus, under the loving gaze of the Father, being totally available to him in any form he may come to us. (123)
25. Jesus, in the least of his brethren, is not only hungry for a piece of bread, but hungry for love, to be known, to be taken into account. (123)
26. Jesus said, “Learn of me.” In our meditations we should always say, “Jesus, make me a saint according to your own heart, meek and humble.” We must respond in the spirit in which Jesus meant us to respond. We know him better now, through meditations, and the study of the gospel, but have we really understood him in his humility? Does this humility appeal to us, attract us? (123)
27. I remember one of our sisters, who had just graduated from the university. She came from a well-to-do family that lived outside of India.
According to our rule, the very next day after joining our society the postulants must go to the home for dying destitute in Calcutta. Before this sister went, I told her, “You saw the priest during the Mass, with what love, with what delicate care he touched the body of Christ. Make sure you do the same thing when you get to the home, because Jesus is there in a distressing disguise.”
So she went, and after three hours, she came back. That girl from the university, who had seen and understood so many things, came to my room with such a beautiful smile on her face. She said, “For three hours I’ve been touching the body of Christ!”
And I said, “What did you do? What happened?”
She said, “They brought a man from the street who had fallen into a drain and had been there for some time. He was covered with maggots and dirt and wounds. And though I found it very difficult, I cleaned him, and I knew I was touching the body of Christ!”
Do we know?
Do we recognize Jesus under the appearance of bread?
If we recognize him under the appearance of bread, we will have no difficulty recognizing him in the disguise of the suffering poor, and the suffering in our family, in our own community. (124)
. . .love thee more dearly...
28. Love Jesus with a big heart. Serve Jesus with joy and gladness of spirit, casting aside and forgetting all that troubles and worries you. To be able to do all these, pray lovingly like children, with an earnest desire to love much. (124)
29. I think I’m not afraid for you brothers if you deepen your personal love for Christ. Then you will be all right. Then people may pass you by but you will not be hurt, you will not be harmed. The first time you go out they may throw stones at you, all right. Turn the other side—--let them throw at the other side also; what is important is that you are holding on, that you have got a grip on Jesus and He will not let your hand go. (125)
30. How can I love Jesus whom I do not see if I don’t love my sister or brother--—or the poor--—whom I do see? If I do not, St. John says: “You are a liar.” (125)
31. Never lose the chance to become like Jesus. We profess before the world, “I am the spouse of Jesus crucified.” Like the woman at the altar who professes before the world her marriage to one man, we, too, change our name to show that we belong to Jesus completely. (125)
32. The child is the fruit of married love. How beautiful! God has said: “Let man and woman be created for that purpose.”
The church is the spouse of Jesus, and for us Missionaries of Charity the fruit of that oneness with Jesus is the poor. Just as the fruit of mother and father is the child, so the fruit of my relationship with Jesus and me is the poor.
Today ask yourself: “What is the fruit of my vow of chastity?” (125)
33. Our Lord has a very special love for the chaste. His own mother, St. Joseph, and St. John the beloved disciple all were consecrated to chastity. Why do I desire to be chaste? I want to be chaste because I am the spouse of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. I want to be chaste because of the work I have to do as the co-worker of Christ. My chastity must be so pure as to draw the most impure to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. (125)
34. What is our spiritual life? A love union with Jesus, in which the divine and the human give themselves completely to one another. All that Jesus asks of me is to give myself to him in all poverty and nothingness. (125)
35. I want you all to fill your hearts with great love. Don’t imagine that love, to be true and burning, must be extraordinary. No; what we need in our love is the continuous desire to love the One we love. (126)
36. I will never forget one day in Venezuela when I went to visit a family who had given us a lamb. I went to thank them and there I found out that they had a badly crippled child.
I asked the mother, “What is the child’s name? What do you call him at home?”
The mother gave me a most beautiful answer. “We call him ‘Teacher of Love,’ because he keeps on teaching us how to love. Everything we do for him is our love for God in action.”
What a beautiful spirit! (126)
37. There is such a beautiful thing in India—--the red dot on the fore-head. The meaning for the Hindu is that his whole thought and attention, everything must be concentrated on God. For the married woman it is the same. The red marking along the part in her hair means that all her thoughts are for her husband. We, too, must be fully for Jesus, giving him that undivided love. (126)
38. By the vow of chastity, I not only renounce the married state of life, but I also consecrate to God the free use of my internal and external acts—--my affections. I cannot in conscience love a creature with the love of a woman for a man. I no longer have the right to give that affection to any other creature but only to God. What, then? Do we have to be stones, human beings without hearts? Do we simply say: “I don’t care; to me all human beings are the same.” No, not at all. We have to keep ourselves as we are, but keep it all for God, to whom we have consecrated all our external and internal acts. (126)
39. Chastity does not simply mean that we are not married. It means that we love Christ with an undivided love. It is not only that we cannot have a family, we cannot get married. But it is something deeper, something living, something real—--it is to love him with undivided, loving chastity through the freedom of poverty. We must be free to love—--and to love him with an undivided love. Nothing will separate us from the love of Christ—--and that is our vow of chastity.
By this vow we are bound to remain faithful to the humble works of the society: to the poorest of the poor, the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for. That means we depend solely on Divine Providence. (126)
40. What am I binding myself to? What is my vow to God about?—--I bind myself to God with undivided love. I tell Almighty God, “I can love all, but the only one I will love in particular is you, only you.” (127)
41. He has chosen us; we have not first chosen him. But we must respond by making our Society something beautiful for God—--something very beautiful. For this we must give all—--our utmost. We must cling to Jesus, grasp him, have a grip on him, and never let go for anything. We must fall in love with Jesus. (127)
. . .and follow thee more nearly; for thine own sake.
42. Knowledge of God, love of God, service of God—--that is the end of our lives—--and obedience gives us the key to it all. (127)
43. Jesus told us, “If you want to be my disciples, take up my cross and follow me” (Luke 14:27). He meant that we should carry the cross and feed him in those who are hungry; that we should clothe him in those who are naked; that we should host him in our home, treating him as a brother. (127)
44. One thing Jesus asks of me: that I lean on him; that in him and only in him I put complete trust; that I surrender myself to him unreservedly. Even when all goes wrong and I feel as if I am a ship without a compass, I must give myself completely to him. I must not attempt to control God’s action; I must not count the stages in the journey he would have me make. I must not desire a clear perception of my advance upon the road, must not know precisely where I am upon the way of holiness. I ask him to make a saint of me, yet I must leave to him the choice of the saintliness itself and still more the means which leads to it. (127)
45. Jesus is the Light
Jesus is the Truth.
Jesus is the Life.
We too must be
the Light of Charity
the Truth of Humility
the Life of Sanctity (128)
46. What is contemplation? To live the life of Jesus. This is what I understand—--to love Jesus, to live his life in us, to live our life in his life. That’s contemplation. We must have a clean heart to be able to see: no jealousy, anger, contention, and especially no uncharitableness. To me, contemplation is not to be shut up in a dark place, but to allow Jesus to live his passion, his love, his humility in us, praying with us, being with us, sanctifying through us. (128)
47. We must not be afraid to proclaim Christ’s love and to love as he loved. In the work we have to do—--it does not matter how small and humble it may be—--make it Christ’s love in action. Do not be afraid to keep a clean and undivided heart and to radiate the joy of being the spouse of Christ crucified. Do not be afraid to go down with Christ and be subject to those who have authority from above and who therefore declare Christ’s obedience unto death. Rejoice that one more Christ is walking through the world in you and through you going about doing good. (128)
48. Our vocation is to follow the lowliness of Christ. We remain right on the ground by living Christ’s concern for the poorest and the lowliest and by being of immediate but effective service to them until they find some others who can help in a better and more lasting way. (128)
49. Only by getting closer and closer to Jesus will we be able to get closer to each other and to the poor. (128)
50. Every sister and brother ought to grow in the likeness of Christ so that Christ may live his life of compassion and humility in today’s world. (129)
51. Am I able to see the poor and suffering? We often look without seeing. All of us have to carry our own cross, all of us have to accompany Jesus in his ascent to Calvary if we want to reach the summit with him.
In our way of the cross we see Jesus, poor and hungry, enduring His own falls. Are we there to offer him our help? Are we there with our sacrifices, with our piece of bread, of real bread?
There are thousands of people dying for a piece of bread. There are thousands upon thousands who die for a little bit of love, for a little bit of acknowledgment. This is one station of the cross: Jesus present in those who are hungry and falling under the weight of the cross. (129)
52. Simon of Cyrene began following Jesus when he helped him bear his cross. That is what you young people have done throughout this year as a symbol of your love: thousands and thousands of things you have offered Jesus in the poor. You have been genuine Cyrenians each time you have carried out one such action or gesture. (129)
53. We must do better than the people in the world, because we do it for Jesus. If we find it difficult, we should ask Jesus to give us a drop from his Precious Blood.
There is a story of a little robin. He saw Jesus on the cross, saw the crown of thorns. The bird flew around and around until he found a way to remove a thorn—--and in removing the thorn it stuck him. Each one of us should be that bird. What have I done; what comfort have I given? Does my work really mean something?
The little robin tried to remove just one thorn. When I look at the cross, I think of that robin. Don’t pass by the cross—--it is a place of grace. The cross—--hands scared with pain. Did I put compassion in my hands for one who was sick? How did I touch my patient? (129)
54. Pray and work daily that all may become followers of Christ. (130)
55. The more united we are to God, the greater will be our love and readiness to serve the poor wholeheartedly. Much depends on this union of hearts. The love of God the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father, produces God the Holy Spirit. So also the love of God for us and our love for God should produce this wholehearted, free service for the poor. (130)
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