Link back to index.html

 

Mother Teresa on I Chose You

      The following passages are taken from the book, “A Life for God,” compiled by LaVonne Neff and published in 1995.

 

The word vocation means “calling.” In the Roman Catholic

church, the word vocation is usually used to denote a calling to the priesthood or to the religious life. Mother Teresa sometimes uses the term that way, but sometimes she uses it a little differently. She believes people are called first and foremost to love Jesus, to belong to him. Only secondarily are they called to do a special work, such as that of the Missionaries of Charity for the poor and the dying.

The call to love Jesus comes to all Christians, not just to those who become clergy or members of religious orders. It is a call we are free to accept or reject. For those who accept God’s call, it is a wonderful gift that leads to life, not only for us but also for all those whose lives we touch. The deepest vocation of the church, says Mother Teresa, “is to gather people from every tribe and tongue, and people and nation, redeemed by the blood of Christ to form God’s family of love.”

You did not choose me,

but I chose you and appointed you

that you should go and bear fruit

and that your fruit should abide....

John 15:16, RSV

 

You did not choose me,

but I chose you and appointed you...

 

1. I will betroth you to me forever in steadfast love, in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness” (Hosea 2.21) Thank God from the depths of your heart that he has chosen you for himself and for life. Why are we here? We must have heard Jesus calling us by name. We are like St. Paul. Once he realized the love of Christ, he cared about nothing else. He did not care whether he was scourged or put into prison. For him, only one thing was important Jesus Christ. (194)

 

2. The Church is each one of us: you, I. We are the ones who have to know, love, and put ourselves at the service of the poorest. (194)

 

3. God loves me. I’m not here just to fill a place, just to be a number. He has chosen me for a purpose. I know it. He will fulfill it if I don’t put an obstacle in his way. He will not force me. God could have forced Our Lady. Jesus could have come just like that. The Holy Spirit could have come. But God wanted Mary to say yes. It is the same with us. God doesn’t force us, but he wants us to say yes. (194)

 

4. Our constitution says that “as a sign of our consecration we receive a new name.” We vow to give ourselves to God completely, and our new name expresses that vow. Our name is called and we answer: “Lord, you have called me.” The moment we stop hearing our name being called we will be separated from him. We can recognize his voice calling our name only in the silence of our hearts. Changing our names shows that we belong not to ourselves but to Jesus. (194)

 

5. Our vocation is to belong to Jesus, to belong with a conviction, not because my vocation is to work with the poor or to be a contemplative, but because I am called to belong to him in the conviction that nothing can separate me from his love. (194)

 

6. All the religious congregations—--nuns, priests, even the Holy Father—--all have the same vocation: to belong to Jesus. “I have chosen you to be mine.” That’s our vocation. Our means, how we spend our time, may be different. Our love for Jesus in action is only the means, just like clothes. I wear this, you wear that it’s a means. But vocation is not a means. Vocation, for a Christian, is Jesus. (194)

 

7. By following the vocation of a Missionary of Charity, we stand before the world as ambassadors of peace by preaching the message of love in action that crosses all barriers of nationality, creed, or country. (195)

 

8. I was only twelve years old, living with my parents in Skopje, Yugoslavia, when I first sensed the desire to become a nun. At that time there were some very good priests who helped boys and girls follow their vocation, according to God’s call. It was then that I realized that my call was to the poor.

Between twelve and eighteen years of age I lost the desire to become a nun. But at eighteen years of age I decided to leave my home and enter the Sisters of Loreto. Since then I have never had the least doubt that I was right. It was God’s will: he made the choice.

The Sisters of Loreto were devoted to teaching, which is a genuine apostolate for Christ. But my specific vocation, within the religious vocation, was for the poorest poor. It was a call from inside my vocation—--like a second vocation. It was a command to resign Loreto, where I was happy, in order to serve the poor in the streets.

In 1946, when I was going by train to Darjeeling for some spiritual exercises, I sensed a call to renounce everything in order to follow Christ in the poor suburbs, to serve among the poorest poor. I knew that God wanted something from me. (195)

 

9. We who are espoused to Christ cannot make room for other affections in our heart without provoking God’s discontent. God has chosen us, but he also has a right to stop choosing us. He will never do that unless we force him to do so. Do not play with your vocation, because when you want to preserve it you will lack the courage to do it. (195)

 

10. How great your vocation is! How happy many would be if they were offered the opportunity to serve personally the king of the world! Well, that is what we are doing. We can touch, serve, and love Christ every day of our lives. (195)

 

11.  A vocation is a gift of Christ. He has said, “I have chosen you.” Every vocation must really belong to Christ. The work that we are called to accomplish is just a means to give concrete substance to our love for God.

Young women today are seeking something to which they can commit everything. They are convinced that a life of poverty, of prayer, of sacrifice—--which will be of help to them in the service of their neighbor, of the poorest poor—--is the answer to their desires, their aspirations, their hopes.

I think they see in our congregation this life of poverty, of prayer, and of sacrifice. In our work on behalf of the poorest poor they see carried into action the Lord’s words, “I was hungry and you fed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was homeless and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25: 35, 36). This is what we, in the anguish and sorrow of the poor, try to do for Christ. (196)

 

12. Our vocation is nothing else but to belong to Christ. The work that we do is only a means to put our love for Christ into living action. (196)

 

13. We all have been called by God. “I have called you by your name,” Jesus said; “You are mine. No harm will come to you. You are precious in my sight. I love you.” God sends you to be his tenderness and love to his people. If you love Christ, it will be easy for you to fully belong to Jesus and to give Jesus to everyone you find. (196)

 

14. Our sisters and our brothers are called Missionaries of Charity. They are young people who are called to be the carriers of God’s love. (196)

 

15. The greatest gift that God can bestow on a family is to choose a son or a daughter for himself. You should encourage this, but it will not be possible for you if you don’t pray. Let us pray then. Let’s not pray long, drawn-out prayers, but let’s pray short ones full of love. Prayer unites us with Christ. Simply open your hearts to him. Also, simply accept what he sends you. With a big smile, generously give Him what he asks of you. You will soon realize that this is the best prayer that you can offer in your families. God will do the rest, never fear. Where God is, there is love; and where there is love, there always is an openness to serve. (196)    

 

16. We are not social workers. Our vocation is to belong to Jesus. He has chosen us for himself alone. What we do for the poorest of the poor is nothing more than to put into practice our love for Christ, like a living parable. (197)

 

17. Q: What will happen Mother, when you are no longer with us?

MT: I believe that if God finds a person even more useless than me, he will do even greater things through her because this work is his. I am sure that the sisters will work with the same energy. As long as they remain faithful to their poverty and to the Eucharist, they will be faithful to the poor. There is no reason to worry. There is nothing to fear. God has always found someone, just like he found me. (197)

 

18. We have a great deal of worth in the eyes of God. I never tire of saying over and over again that God loves us. In the Constitution of the Missionaries of Charity, we have a beautiful statement about chastity. It says, “Jesus offers his lifelong, faithful, and personal friendship, embracing us in tenderness and love.” It is a wonderful thing that God himself loves me tenderly. That is why we should have courage, joy, and the conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (197)

 

19. Something happened to one of the sisters who was sent to study. The day she was to receive her degree she died. When she was dying she asked, “Why did Jesus call me for such a short time?” And her superior answered, “Jesus wants you, not your works.” She was perfectly happy after that. (197)

 

20. Your vows are nothing but worship of God. If you are sincere in your prayers, then your vows have meaning; otherwise, they will mean nothing. The taking of your vows is also a prayer because it is worship of God. Your vows are between you and God alone. There is no one in between. It is all between Jesus and you. (197)

 

21. To be a Co-worker is a gift from God. It is not simply a title. It means to be an active co-Worker with Christ. The name of “Mother Teresa” is frequently referred to in our work, but really you and I are co-workers with Christ. That is why I say that being a Co-worker is a gift from God. It is a hidden grace. We don’t see it, but it is really a gift from God. Why has God chosen you? Why me? This is a mystery. (198)

 

22. What delicate love God has had for the poor of the world to have created the Missionaries of Charity. You and I have been called by our name, because he loved us. Because you and I are somebody special to him—--to be his heart to love him in the poor, his hands to serve him in the poorest of the poor. My children, how much love and care we must take of him—--if only we were in love with him. Let us learn to pray the work, to be able to be twenty-four hours with Jesus, to do it for Jesus and to Jesus. We need a pure heart, a heart that is filled with nothing but Jesus. (198)

 

23. Young people, with your lives you determine the outcome of his call to you. Will you accept it? It is a call to you and me. Every Christian soul is called to belong to God, some in a special way through the priesthood and the religious life. (198)

 

24. You, young men, whom Jesus has called, whom Jesus has chosen for his own, consider the call to be that bridge that can link souls to God. (198)

 

25. You must not be afraid to say “Yes” to Jesus, because there is no greater love than his love and no greater joy than his joy. My prayer for you is that you come to understand and have the courage to answer Jesus’ call to you with the simple word Yes. (198)

 

. . .that you should go and bear fruit

and that your fruit should abide....

 

26. Our Eucharistic union with Christ should bear fruit, since Jesus has said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 155, RSV) Grapes are in the branches, not on the stalk. How great then is your responsibility and mine, the responsibility of us all, since the fruit will depend on the union of the branches to the vine! (199)

 

27. Our spiritual life is a life of re1iance on God. Its fruit is the work for the poor. Our work is our prayer because we carry it out through Jesus, in Jesus, and for the sake of Jesus. (199)

 

28. As you know, we have got our brothers also who are Missionaries of Charity. One of our brothers loves the lepers. We are taking care of forty-nine thousand lepers in India. This brother really loves the lepers. He came one day after he had had some difficulties with his superior. He said to me, ”I love the lepers; I want to work for them. My vocation is to be with the lepers.” I said to him, “Brother, you are making a mistake. Your vocation is not to work for the lepers. Your vocation is to belong to Jesus. The work for the lepers is only your love for Christ in action; and, therefore, it makes no difference to anyone as long as you are doing it to him as long as you are doing it with him. That’s all that matters. That is the completion of your vocation, of your belonging to Christ.” (199)

 

29. We shall go freely in the name of Jesus, to towns and villages all over the world, even amid squalid and dangerous surroundings, with

Mary the immaculate mother of Jesus, seeking out the spiritually poorest of the poor with God’s own tender affection and proclaiming to them the good news of salvation and hope, singing with them his songs, bringing to them his love, peace, and joy.

We shall call sinners to repentance, and turn them to God by our personal concern for them, proclaim to them the mercy of God, and when necessary remind them also of the justice of God, and teach them the way to salvation through abnegation and the cross, through a total change of mind and heart, through belief in the name of Jesus, and through living his message of love for the Father and one’s neighbor.

We shall instruct the ignorant by the power of the example of our lives lived entirely in and with Jesus Christ our Lord, bearing witness to the truth of the gospel by our single-minded devotion to and burning love of Christ and his Church, and also by verbal proclamation of the Word of God fearlessly, openly, and dearly, according to the teaching of the Church, whenever opportunity offers.

We shall counsel the doubtful by listening to them attentively, lovingly, and prayerfully and then speaking to them the truth of God, firmly, gently and with love.

We shall sustain the tempted by our prayer, penance, and understanding love and when opportunity offers also by enlightening and encouraging words.

We shall befriend the friendless and comfort the sick and sorrowful by our real love and personal concern for them, identifying ourselves with them in their pain and sorrow and by praying with them for God’s healing and comfort and by encouraging them to offer their sufferings to the Lord for the salvation of the whole world.

We shall bear wrongs patiently by offering no resistance to the wicked—--if anyone hits us on the right cheek by turning the left also; if anyone takes away anything from us by not trying to get it back.

We shall forgive injuries by seeking no revenge but returning good for evil, by loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us and blessing those who curse us.

We shall bring prayer into the lives of the spiritually poorest of the poor by praying with them and for them and making them personally experience the power of prayer and the reality of the promise of Jesus, “Ask and you shall receive. Whatever you ask in my name I will do.” (199)

 

30. The missionary aspect of our call to contemplation will find its expression in going in haste to the spiritually poorest of the poor personally, to proclaim the peace, joy, and love of God wherever we are sent.

In  spirit, to every part of vast creation of God from the furthest planet to the depths of the sea; from one abandoned convent chapel to another abandoned church; from an abortion clinic in one city to a prison cell in another; from the source of a river in one continent to a lonely mountain cave in another, and even into heaven and the gates of hell, praying with and for each of God’s creation to save and sanctify each one for whom the blood of the Son of God has been shed. (200)

 

31. We deliberately renounce all desires to see the fruit of our labor, doing all we can as best we can, leaving the rest in the hands of God. (201)

 

32. If someone feels that God wants from him a transformation of social structures, that’s an issue between him and his God. We all

have the duty to serve God where we feel called. I feel called to help individuals, to love each human being. It is not my task to judge institutions—--I am not competent to judge anybody. I never think in terms of crowds in general but in terms of persons. Were I to think about crowds, I would never begin anything. It is the person that matters. I believe in person-to-person encounters. (201)

 

33. In the world there are some who struggle for justice and human rights. We have no time for this because we are in daily and continuous contact with men who are starving for a piece of bread to put in their mouth and for some affection. Should I devote myself to struggle for the justice of tomorrow or even for the justice of today, the most needy people would die right in front of me because they lack a glass of milk.

Nevertheless, I want to state clearly that I do not condemn those who struggle for justice. I believe there are different options for the people of God. To me, the most important is to serve the neediest people.

Within the church some do one thing, others do a different thing. What is important is that all of us remain united, each one of us developing his own specific task. (201)

 

34. The very fact that God has placed a soul on our way is a sign that he wants us to do something for it. (202)

 

35. The vow of charity is a fruit of our union with Christ, just as a child is the fruit of the sacrament of matrimony. Just as a lamp cannot burn without oil, so also a vow of charity cannot live without the vows of poverty and obedience. (202)

 

36. The particular aim of our congregation is to offer wholehearted free service to the poorest poor, to Christ in the semblance of those who suffer. The work we carry out is only our love for Christ in concrete action. That is why we strive to love Christ:

— with an undivided love in chastity;

— through the freedom of poverty;

— in total submission in obedience;

— and in cordial service to the poorest poor;

— to Christ under the semblance of those who suffer

These are the four vows we proclaim, and they make the essential difference in our life. (202)

 

37. Pope Paul says that vocation means the capacity to heed the imploring voices of the world of innocent souls of those who suffer, who have no comfort, no guidance, no love. This requirement is beautifully fulfilled by our vow of wholehearted and free service to the poor. Just as Christ went about doing good, healing the sick, casting out devils, preaching the kingdom of God, we too spend ourselves untiringly in seeking, in towns as well as villages, even amid the dustbins, the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the infirm, the dying, and in taking care of them, helping them, visiting them, and giving them the message of Christ, and trying our best to bring them to God. (202)

 

38. If something belongs to me, I’ve got full power to use it as I want. I belong to Jesus; he can do to me whatever he wants. The work is not our vocation. I can do this work without being a religious. Can you tell me why we become Missionaries of Charity? The work is not our vocation. Our vocation is to belong to him. (202)

 

39. We are called the “Missionaries of Charity.”

A missionary is one sent with a mission—--a message to deliver. Just as Jesus was sent by his Father, we too are sent by him and filled with his spirit to be witnesses of his gospel of love and compassion, first in our communities and then in our apostolate among the poorest of the poor all over the world.

As missionaries we must be:

—carriers of God’s love, ready to go in haste, like Mary, in search of souls;

—burning lights that give light to all men;

—the salt of the earth

—souls consumed with one desire: Jesus. We must keep his interests continually in our hearts and minds, carrying our Lord to places where he has not walked before;

—fearless in doing the things he did, courageously going through danger and death with him and for him;

—ready to accept joyously the need to die daily if we want to bring souls to God, to pay the price he paid for souls;

—ever ready to go to any part of the world and to respect and appreciate unfamiliar customs of other peoples, their living conditions and language, willing to adapt ourselves if and when necessary;

—happy to undertake any labor and toil, and glad to make any sacrifice involved in our missionary life. (203)

 

40. Persuaded of our nothingness and with the blessing of obedience we attempt all things, doubting nothing, for with God all things are possible.

We will allow the good God to make plans for the future, for yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come, and we have only today to make him known, loved, and served.

Grateful for the thousands of opportunities Jesus gives us to bring hope into a multitude of lives by our concern for the individual sufferer, we will help our troubled world at the brink of despair to discover a new reason to live or to die with a smile of contentment on its lips.

We do not allow ourselves to be disheartened by any failure as long as we have done our best. Neither do we glory in our success, but refer all to God in deepest thankfulness. (203)

 

41. As a religious community, modeled on the first Christian community, our first great responsibility is to be community, revealing first to one another something of God’s own love, concern, and tenderness—--what it means to know and to be known, to love and to be loved, and thus to be a sign witnessing to the deepest vocation of the church, which is to gather people from every tribe and tongue, and people and nation, redeemed by the blood of Christ, to form God’s family of love. “See how they love each other.” (204)

 

42. No Missionary of Charity is called to do big things. Our work sounds big because there are so many little things, but when you look at it, there is nothing to show—--nothing. I was so happy to see a sister cleaning the toilets, because they were shining. She must have cleaned them with great love and done it in the presence of God. (204)

 

43. You are being sent; you have not chosen for yourself where you want to go; and you are sent just as Jesus was sent to us. You are sent not to teach but to learn: learn to be meek and humble of heart. You are sent to serve and not to be served: Go to serve with a humble heart. Never escape the hard work. Be always the first one to do it. (204)

 

44. We Missionaries of Charity take a special vow to God to give wholehearted, free service to the poorest of the poor. We have no income, no Church assistance, no government salary, no government grants. We have none of that. And yet we deal with thousands and thousands and thousands of people, and we have never had to say to anybody, “We’re sorry, we have run out of supplies.” (204)

 

45. To work without love is slavery. (204)

 

46. We will be very blessed to have the joy this love brings of working together and making our work a prayer.

With Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus.

With God, for God, to God.

That way we are praying to God, not just doing our work.

When you are cooking, washing clothes, working hard in the office, do all with joy. That will be your love for God in action! (205)

 

47. The difference between our work and social work is that we give wholehearted, free service for the love of God. In the beginning, when the work started, I got a fever and had a dream about St Peter. He said to me, “No, there is no place for you here. No slums in heaven.” “All right,” I answered him, “then I shall go on working. I’ll bring the people from the slums to heaven.” (205)

 

48. Our vocation is not the work—--the fidelity to humble works is our means to put our love into action. (205)

 

49. What have we to learn? To be meek and humble; if we are meek and humble we will learn to pray. If we learn to pray, we will belong to Jesus. If we belong to Jesus we will learn to believe, and if we believe we will learn to love, and if we love we will learn to serve. (205)

 

50. Spend your time in prayer. If you pray you will have faith, and if you have faith you will naturally want to serve. The one who prays cannot but have faith, and when you have faith you want to put it into action. Faith in action is service. Faith in action becomes a delight because it gives you the opportunity of putting your love for Christ into action—--it is meeting Christ, serving Christ. (205)

 

51. You need especially to pray, for in our society, the work is only the fruit of prayer, our love in action. If you are really in love with Christ, no matter how small the work, it will be done better, it will be wholehearted. If your work is slapdash, then your love for God is slapdash. Your work must prove your love. (205)

 

52. We must work in great faith, steadily, efficiently, and above all with great love and cheerfulness, for without this our work will be only the work of slaves, serving a hard master. (205)

 

53. However beautiful the work is, be detached from it—--even ready to give it up. You may be doing great good in one place, but obedience calls you elsewhere. Be ready to leave. The work is not yours. You are working for Jesus. (206)

 

54. You may be exhausted with work—--you may even kill yourself—--but unless your work is interwoven with love, it is useless. (206)

 

55. Don’t give in to discouragement. No more must you do so when you try to settle a marriage crisis or convert a sinner and don’t succeed. If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. It is very difficult in practice because we all want to see the result of our work. Leave it to Jesus. (206)

 

56. Never do the work carelessly because you wish to hide your gifts. Remember, the work is his. You are his co-worker. Therefore, he depends on you for that special work. Do the work with him, and the work will be done for him. The talents God has given you are not yours—--they have been given to you for your use, for the glory of God. There can be no half measures in the work. You may feel very bad, but feelings are not the measure of our love for Christ. It is our will and our work that matters. Be great and use everything in you for the good Master. (206)

 

57. You have done a lot of work these days; it was nicely done, but did you give what was inside of you?

What did that giving mean to you? Did you give with love and respect? If you did not pray that giving, it was just a giving of self.

Did the people see you give with love and respect? Did you give the medicine with faith to the sick Christ? This is the difference between you and the social worker. (206)

 

58. The more repugnant the work, the greater the effect of love and cheerful service. If I had not first picked up that woman who was eaten by rats—--her face, and legs, and so on—--I could not have been a Missionary of Charity. But I returned, picked her up, and took her to Camphel Hospital. If I had not, the Society would have died. Feelings of repugnance are human. If we give our wholehearted, free service in spite of such feelings, we will become holy. St. Francis of Assisi was repulsed by lepers but he overcame it. He died; but Christ lives. (206)

 

59. Today, in the words of our Holy Father, each one of us must be able “to cleanse what is dirty, to warm what is lukewarm, to strengthen what is weak, to enlighten what is dark.” We must not be afraid to proclaim Christ’s love and to love as he loved. In the work we have to do, no matter how small and humble it may be, we must make it Christ’s love in action. Do not be afraid to proclaim his poverty. Do not be afraid to go with Christ and be subject to those who have authority from above and so declare Christ obedience unto death. Rejoice that once more Christ is walking through the world, in you and through you, going about doing good. (207)

 

60. If you are put in the kitchen, you must not think it does not require brains—--that sitting, standing, coming, going, anything will do. God will not ask that sister how many books she has read; how many miracles she has worked; but he will ask her if she has done her best, for the love of him. Can she in all sincerity say, ”I have done my best”? Even if the best is failure, it must be our best, our utmost. (207)

 

61. The contemplative and apostolic fruitfulness of our way of life depends on our being rooted in Christ Jesus our Lord by our deliberate choice of small and simple means for the fulfillment of our mission and by our fidelity to humble work of love among the spiritually poorest, identifying ourselves with them, sharing their poverty and insecurities until it hurts. (207)

 

62. We need prayers in order to better carry out the work of God. Pray for us, so that the work we do may be God’s work and so that in every moment we may know how to be completely available to him. (207)

 

Mother Teresa on I Chose You

      The following passages are taken from the book, “A Life for God,” compiled by LaVonne Neff and published in 1995.

 

The word vocation means “calling.” In the Roman Catholic

church, the word vocation is usually used to denote a calling to the priesthood or to the religious life. Mother Teresa sometimes uses the term that way, but sometimes she uses it a little differently. She believes people are called first and foremost to love Jesus, to belong to him. Only secondarily are they called to do a special work, such as that of the Missionaries of Charity for the poor and the dying.

The call to love Jesus comes to all Christians, not just to those who become clergy or members of religious orders. It is a call we are free to accept or reject. For those who accept God’s call, it is a wonderful gift that leads to life, not only for us but also for all those whose lives we touch. The deepest vocation of the church, says Mother Teresa, “is to gather people from every tribe and tongue, and people and nation, redeemed by the blood of Christ to form God’s family of love.”

You did not choose me,

but I chose you and appointed you

that you should go and bear fruit

and that your fruit should abide....

John 15:16, RSV

 

You did not choose me,

but I chose you and appointed you...

 

1. I will betroth you to me forever in steadfast love, in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness” (Hosea 2.21) Thank God from the depths of your heart that he has chosen you for himself and for life. Why are we here? We must have heard Jesus calling us by name. We are like St. Paul. Once he realized the love of Christ, he cared about nothing else. He did not care whether he was scourged or put into prison. For him, only one thing was important Jesus Christ. (194)

 

2. The Church is each one of us: you, I. We are the ones who have to know, love, and put ourselves at the service of the poorest. (194)

 

3. God loves me. I’m not here just to fill a place, just to be a number. He has chosen me for a purpose. I know it. He will fulfill it if I don’t put an obstacle in his way. He will not force me. God could have forced Our Lady. Jesus could have come just like that. The Holy Spirit could have come. But God wanted Mary to say yes. It is the same with us. God doesn’t force us, but he wants us to say yes. (194)

 

4. Our constitution says that “as a sign of our consecration we receive a new name.” We vow to give ourselves to God completely, and our new name expresses that vow. Our name is called and we answer: “Lord, you have called me.” The moment we stop hearing our name being called we will be separated from him. We can recognize his voice calling our name only in the silence of our hearts. Changing our names shows that we belong not to ourselves but to Jesus. (194)

 

5. Our vocation is to belong to Jesus, to belong with a conviction, not because my vocation is to work with the poor or to be a contemplative, but because I am called to belong to him in the conviction that nothing can separate me from his love. (194)

 

6. All the religious congregations—--nuns, priests, even the Holy Father—--all have the same vocation: to belong to Jesus. “I have chosen you to be mine.” That’s our vocation. Our means, how we spend our time, may be different. Our love for Jesus in action is only the means, just like clothes. I wear this, you wear that it’s a means. But vocation is not a means. Vocation, for a Christian, is Jesus. (194)

 

7. By following the vocation of a Missionary of Charity, we stand before the world as ambassadors of peace by preaching the message of love in action that crosses all barriers of nationality, creed, or country. (195)

 

8. I was only twelve years old, living with my parents in Skopje, Yugoslavia, when I first sensed the desire to become a nun. At that time there were some very good priests who helped boys and girls follow their vocation, according to God’s call. It was then that I realized that my call was to the poor.

Between twelve and eighteen years of age I lost the desire to become a nun. But at eighteen years of age I decided to leave my home and enter the Sisters of Loreto. Since then I have never had the least doubt that I was right. It was God’s will: he made the choice.

The Sisters of Loreto were devoted to teaching, which is a genuine apostolate for Christ. But my specific vocation, within the religious vocation, was for the poorest poor. It was a call from inside my vocation—--like a second vocation. It was a command to resign Loreto, where I was happy, in order to serve the poor in the streets.

In 1946, when I was going by train to Darjeeling for some spiritual exercises, I sensed a call to renounce everything in order to follow Christ in the poor suburbs, to serve among the poorest poor. I knew that God wanted something from me. (195)

 

9. We who are espoused to Christ cannot make room for other affections in our heart without provoking God’s discontent. God has chosen us, but he also has a right to stop choosing us. He will never do that unless we force him to do so. Do not play with your vocation, because when you want to preserve it you will lack the courage to do it. (195)

 

10. How great your vocation is! How happy many would be if they were offered the opportunity to serve personally the king of the world! Well, that is what we are doing. We can touch, serve, and love Christ every day of our lives. (195)

 

11.  A vocation is a gift of Christ. He has said, “I have chosen you.” Every vocation must really belong to Christ. The work that we are called to accomplish is just a means to give concrete substance to our love for God.

Young women today are seeking something to which they can commit everything. They are convinced that a life of poverty, of prayer, of sacrifice—--which will be of help to them in the service of their neighbor, of the poorest poor—--is the answer to their desires, their aspirations, their hopes.

I think they see in our congregation this life of poverty, of prayer, and of sacrifice. In our work on behalf of the poorest poor they see carried into action the Lord’s words, “I was hungry and you fed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was homeless and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25: 35, 36). This is what we, in the anguish and sorrow of the poor, try to do for Christ. (196)

 

12. Our vocation is nothing else but to belong to Christ. The work that we do is only a means to put our love for Christ into living action. (196)

 

13. We all have been called by God. “I have called you by your name,” Jesus said; “You are mine. No harm will come to you. You are precious in my sight. I love you.” God sends you to be his tenderness and love to his people. If you love Christ, it will be easy for you to fully belong to Jesus and to give Jesus to everyone you find. (196)

 

14. Our sisters and our brothers are called Missionaries of Charity. They are young people who are called to be the carriers of God’s love. (196)

 

15. The greatest gift that God can bestow on a family is to choose a son or a daughter for himself. You should encourage this, but it will not be possible for you if you don’t pray. Let us pray then. Let’s not pray long, drawn-out prayers, but let’s pray short ones full of love. Prayer unites us with Christ. Simply open your hearts to him. Also, simply accept what he sends you. With a big smile, generously give Him what he asks of you. You will soon realize that this is the best prayer that you can offer in your families. God will do the rest, never fear. Where God is, there is love; and where there is love, there always is an openness to serve. (196)    

 

16. We are not social workers. Our vocation is to belong to Jesus. He has chosen us for himself alone. What we do for the poorest of the poor is nothing more than to put into practice our love for Christ, like a living parable. (197)

 

17. Q: What will happen Mother, when you are no longer with us?

MT: I believe that if God finds a person even more useless than me, he will do even greater things through her because this work is his. I am sure that the sisters will work with the same energy. As long as they remain faithful to their poverty and to the Eucharist, they will be faithful to the poor. There is no reason to worry. There is nothing to fear. God has always found someone, just like he found me. (197)

 

18. We have a great deal of worth in the eyes of God. I never tire of saying over and over again that God loves us. In the Constitution of the Missionaries of Charity, we have a beautiful statement about chastity. It says, “Jesus offers his lifelong, faithful, and personal friendship, embracing us in tenderness and love.” It is a wonderful thing that God himself loves me tenderly. That is why we should have courage, joy, and the conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (197)

 

19. Something happened to one of the sisters who was sent to study. The day she was to receive her degree she died. When she was dying she asked, “Why did Jesus call me for such a short time?” And her superior answered, “Jesus wants you, not your works.” She was perfectly happy after that. (197)

 

20. Your vows are nothing but worship of God. If you are sincere in your prayers, then your vows have meaning; otherwise, they will mean nothing. The taking of your vows is also a prayer because it is worship of God. Your vows are between you and God alone. There is no one in between. It is all between Jesus and you. (197)

 

21. To be a Co-worker is a gift from God. It is not simply a title. It means to be an active co-Worker with Christ. The name of “Mother Teresa” is frequently referred to in our work, but really you and I are co-workers with Christ. That is why I say that being a Co-worker is a gift from God. It is a hidden grace. We don’t see it, but it is really a gift from God. Why has God chosen you? Why me? This is a mystery. (198)

 

22. What delicate love God has had for the poor of the world to have created the Missionaries of Charity. You and I have been called by our name, because he loved us. Because you and I are somebody special to him—--to be his heart to love him in the poor, his hands to serve him in the poorest of the poor. My children, how much love and care we must take of him—--if only we were in love with him. Let us learn to pray the work, to be able to be twenty-four hours with Jesus, to do it for Jesus and to Jesus. We need a pure heart, a heart that is filled with nothing but Jesus. (198)

 

23. Young people, with your lives you determine the outcome of his call to you. Will you accept it? It is a call to you and me. Every Christian soul is called to belong to God, some in a special way through the priesthood and the religious life. (198)

 

24. You, young men, whom Jesus has called, whom Jesus has chosen for his own, consider the call to be that bridge that can link souls to God. (198)

 

25. You must not be afraid to say “Yes” to Jesus, because there is no greater love than his love and no greater joy than his joy. My prayer for you is that you come to understand and have the courage to answer Jesus’ call to you with the simple word Yes. (198)

 

. . .that you should go and bear fruit

and that your fruit should abide....

 

26. Our Eucharistic union with Christ should bear fruit, since Jesus has said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 155, RSV) Grapes are in the branches, not on the stalk. How great then is your responsibility and mine, the responsibility of us all, since the fruit will depend on the union of the branches to the vine! (199)

 

27. Our spiritual life is a life of re1iance on God. Its fruit is the work for the poor. Our work is our prayer because we carry it out through Jesus, in Jesus, and for the sake of Jesus. (199)

 

28. As you know, we have got our brothers also who are Missionaries of Charity. One of our brothers loves the lepers. We are taking care of forty-nine thousand lepers in India. This brother really loves the lepers. He came one day after he had had some difficulties with his superior. He said to me, ”I love the lepers; I want to work for them. My vocation is to be with the lepers.” I said to him, “Brother, you are making a mistake. Your vocation is not to work for the lepers. Your vocation is to belong to Jesus. The work for the lepers is only your love for Christ in action; and, therefore, it makes no difference to anyone as long as you are doing it to him as long as you are doing it with him. That’s all that matters. That is the completion of your vocation, of your belonging to Christ.” (199)

 

29. We shall go freely in the name of Jesus, to towns and villages all over the world, even amid squalid and dangerous surroundings, with

Mary the immaculate mother of Jesus, seeking out the spiritually poorest of the poor with God’s own tender affection and proclaiming to them the good news of salvation and hope, singing with them his songs, bringing to them his love, peace, and joy.

We shall call sinners to repentance, and turn them to God by our personal concern for them, proclaim to them the mercy of God, and when necessary remind them also of the justice of God, and teach them the way to salvation through abnegation and the cross, through a total change of mind and heart, through belief in the name of Jesus, and through living his message of love for the Father and one’s neighbor.

We shall instruct the ignorant by the power of the example of our lives lived entirely in and with Jesus Christ our Lord, bearing witness to the truth of the gospel by our single-minded devotion to and burning love of Christ and his Church, and also by verbal proclamation of the Word of God fearlessly, openly, and dearly, according to the teaching of the Church, whenever opportunity offers.

We shall counsel the doubtful by listening to them attentively, lovingly, and prayerfully and then speaking to them the truth of God, firmly, gently and with love.

We shall sustain the tempted by our prayer, penance, and understanding love and when opportunity offers also by enlightening and encouraging words.

We shall befriend the friendless and comfort the sick and sorrowful by our real love and personal concern for them, identifying ourselves with them in their pain and sorrow and by praying with them for God’s healing and comfort and by encouraging them to offer their sufferings to the Lord for the salvation of the whole world.

We shall bear wrongs patiently by offering no resistance to the wicked—--if anyone hits us on the right cheek by turning the left also; if anyone takes away anything from us by not trying to get it back.

We shall forgive injuries by seeking no revenge but returning good for evil, by loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us and blessing those who curse us.

We shall bring prayer into the lives of the spiritually poorest of the poor by praying with them and for them and making them personally experience the power of prayer and the reality of the promise of Jesus, “Ask and you shall receive. Whatever you ask in my name I will do.” (199)

 

30. The missionary aspect of our call to contemplation will find its expression in going in haste to the spiritually poorest of the poor personally, to proclaim the peace, joy, and love of God wherever we are sent.

In  spirit, to every part of vast creation of God from the furthest planet to the depths of the sea; from one abandoned convent chapel to another abandoned church; from an abortion clinic in one city to a prison cell in another; from the source of a river in one continent to a lonely mountain cave in another, and even into heaven and the gates of hell, praying with and for each of God’s creation to save and sanctify each one for whom the blood of the Son of God has been shed. (200)

 

31. We deliberately renounce all desires to see the fruit of our labor, doing all we can as best we can, leaving the rest in the hands of God. (201)

 

32. If someone feels that God wants from him a transformation of social structures, that’s an issue between him and his God. We all

have the duty to serve God where we feel called. I feel called to help individuals, to love each human being. It is not my task to judge institutions—--I am not competent to judge anybody. I never think in terms of crowds in general but in terms of persons. Were I to think about crowds, I would never begin anything. It is the person that matters. I believe in person-to-person encounters. (201)

 

33. In the world there are some who struggle for justice and human rights. We have no time for this because we are in daily and continuous contact with men who are starving for a piece of bread to put in their mouth and for some affection. Should I devote myself to struggle for the justice of tomorrow or even for the justice of today, the most needy people would die right in front of me because they lack a glass of milk.

Nevertheless, I want to state clearly that I do not condemn those who struggle for justice. I believe there are different options for the people of God. To me, the most important is to serve the neediest people.

Within the church some do one thing, others do a different thing. What is important is that all of us remain united, each one of us developing his own specific task. (201)

 

34. The very fact that God has placed a soul on our way is a sign that he wants us to do something for it. (202)

 

35. The vow of charity is a fruit of our union with Christ, just as a child is the fruit of the sacrament of matrimony. Just as a lamp cannot burn without oil, so also a vow of charity cannot live without the vows of poverty and obedience. (202)

 

36. The particular aim of our congregation is to offer wholehearted free service to the poorest poor, to Christ in the semblance of those who suffer. The work we carry out is only our love for Christ in concrete action. That is why we strive to love Christ:

— with an undivided love in chastity;

— through the freedom of poverty;

— in total submission in obedience;

— and in cordial service to the poorest poor;

— to Christ under the semblance of those who suffer

These are the four vows we proclaim, and they make the essential difference in our life. (202)

 

37. Pope Paul says that vocation means the capacity to heed the imploring voices of the world of innocent souls of those who suffer, who have no comfort, no guidance, no love. This requirement is beautifully fulfilled by our vow of wholehearted and free service to the poor. Just as Christ went about doing good, healing the sick, casting out devils, preaching the kingdom of God, we too spend ourselves untiringly in seeking, in towns as well as villages, even amid the dustbins, the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the infirm, the dying, and in taking care of them, helping them, visiting them, and giving them the message of Christ, and trying our best to bring them to God. (202)

 

38. If something belongs to me, I’ve got full power to use it as I want. I belong to Jesus; he can do to me whatever he wants. The work is not our vocation. I can do this work without being a religious. Can you tell me why we become Missionaries of Charity? The work is not our vocation. Our vocation is to belong to him. (202)

 

39. We are called the “Missionaries of Charity.”

A missionary is one sent with a mission—--a message to deliver. Just as Jesus was sent by his Father, we too are sent by him and filled with his spirit to be witnesses of his gospel of love and compassion, first in our communities and then in our apostolate among the poorest of the poor all over the world.

As missionaries we must be:

—carriers of God’s love, ready to go in haste, like Mary, in search of souls;

—burning lights that give light to all men;

—the salt of the earth

—souls consumed with one desire: Jesus. We must keep his interests continually in our hearts and minds, carrying our Lord to places where he has not walked before;

—fearless in doing the things he did, courageously going through danger and death with him and for him;

—ready to accept joyously the need to die daily if we want to bring souls to God, to pay the price he paid for souls;

—ever ready to go to any part of the world and to respect and appreciate unfamiliar customs of other peoples, their living conditions and language, willing to adapt ourselves if and when necessary;

—happy to undertake any labor and toil, and glad to make any sacrifice involved in our missionary life. (203)

 

40. Persuaded of our nothingness and with the blessing of obedience we attempt all things, doubting nothing, for with God all things are possible.

We will allow the good God to make plans for the future, for yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come, and we have only today to make him known, loved, and served.

Grateful for the thousands of opportunities Jesus gives us to bring hope into a multitude of lives by our concern for the individual sufferer, we will help our troubled world at the brink of despair to discover a new reason to live or to die with a smile of contentment on its lips.

We do not allow ourselves to be disheartened by any failure as long as we have done our best. Neither do we glory in our success, but refer all to God in deepest thankfulness. (203)

 

41. As a religious community, modeled on the first Christian community, our first great responsibility is to be community, revealing first to one another something of God’s own love, concern, and tenderness—--what it means to know and to be known, to love and to be loved, and thus to be a sign witnessing to the deepest vocation of the church, which is to gather people from every tribe and tongue, and people and nation, redeemed by the blood of Christ, to form God’s family of love. “See how they love each other.” (204)

 

42. No Missionary of Charity is called to do big things. Our work sounds big because there are so many little things, but when you look at it, there is nothing to show—--nothing. I was so happy to see a sister cleaning the toilets, because they were shining. She must have cleaned them with great love and done it in the presence of God. (204)

 

43. You are being sent; you have not chosen for yourself where you want to go; and you are sent just as Jesus was sent to us. You are sent not to teach but to learn: learn to be meek and humble of heart. You are sent to serve and not to be served: Go to serve with a humble heart. Never escape the hard work. Be always the first one to do it. (204)

 

44. We Missionaries of Charity take a special vow to God to give wholehearted, free service to the poorest of the poor. We have no income, no Church assistance, no government salary, no government grants. We have none of that. And yet we deal with thousands and thousands and thousands of people, and we have never had to say to anybody, “We’re sorry, we have run out of supplies.” (204)

 

45. To work without love is slavery. (204)

 

46. We will be very blessed to have the joy this love brings of working together and making our work a prayer.

With Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus.

With God, for God, to God.

That way we are praying to God, not just doing our work.

When you are cooking, washing clothes, working hard in the office, do all with joy. That will be your love for God in action! (205)

 

47. The difference between our work and social work is that we give wholehearted, free service for the love of God. In the beginning, when the work started, I got a fever and had a dream about St Peter. He said to me, “No, there is no place for you here. No slums in heaven.” “All right,” I answered him, “then I shall go on working. I’ll bring the people from the slums to heaven.” (205)

 

48. Our vocation is not the work—--the fidelity to humble works is our means to put our love into action. (205)

 

49. What have we to learn? To be meek and humble; if we are meek and humble we will learn to pray. If we learn to pray, we will belong to Jesus. If we belong to Jesus we will learn to believe, and if we believe we will learn to love, and if we love we will learn to serve. (205)

 

50. Spend your time in prayer. If you pray you will have faith, and if you have faith you will naturally want to serve. The one who prays cannot but have faith, and when you have faith you want to put it into action. Faith in action is service. Faith in action becomes a delight because it gives you the opportunity of putting your love for Christ into action—--it is meeting Christ, serving Christ. (205)

 

51. You need especially to pray, for in our society, the work is only the fruit of prayer, our love in action. If you are really in love with Christ, no matter how small the work, it will be done better, it will be wholehearted. If your work is slapdash, then your love for God is slapdash. Your work must prove your love. (205)

 

52. We must work in great faith, steadily, efficiently, and above all with great love and cheerfulness, for without this our work will be only the work of slaves, serving a hard master. (205)

 

53. However beautiful the work is, be detached from it—--even ready to give it up. You may be doing great good in one place, but obedience calls you elsewhere. Be ready to leave. The work is not yours. You are working for Jesus. (206)

 

54. You may be exhausted with work—--you may even kill yourself—--but unless your work is interwoven with love, it is useless. (206)

 

55. Don’t give in to discouragement. No more must you do so when you try to settle a marriage crisis or convert a sinner and don’t succeed. If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. It is very difficult in practice because we all want to see the result of our work. Leave it to Jesus. (206)

 

56. Never do the work carelessly because you wish to hide your gifts. Remember, the work is his. You are his co-worker. Therefore, he depends on you for that special work. Do the work with him, and the work will be done for him. The talents God has given you are not yours—--they have been given to you for your use, for the glory of God. There can be no half measures in the work. You may feel very bad, but feelings are not the measure of our love for Christ. It is our will and our work that matters. Be great and use everything in you for the good Master. (206)

 

57. You have done a lot of work these days; it was nicely done, but did you give what was inside of you?

What did that giving mean to you? Did you give with love and respect? If you did not pray that giving, it was just a giving of self.

Did the people see you give with love and respect? Did you give the medicine with faith to the sick Christ? This is the difference between you and the social worker. (206)

 

58. The more repugnant the work, the greater the effect of love and cheerful service. If I had not first picked up that woman who was eaten by rats—--her face, and legs, and so on—--I could not have been a Missionary of Charity. But I returned, picked her up, and took her to Camphel Hospital. If I had not, the Society would have died. Feelings of repugnance are human. If we give our wholehearted, free service in spite of such feelings, we will become holy. St. Francis of Assisi was repulsed by lepers but he overcame it. He died; but Christ lives. (206)

 

59. Today, in the words of our Holy Father, each one of us must be able “to cleanse what is dirty, to warm what is lukewarm, to strengthen what is weak, to enlighten what is dark.” We must not be afraid to proclaim Christ’s love and to love as he loved. In the work we have to do, no matter how small and humble it may be, we must make it Christ’s love in action. Do not be afraid to proclaim his poverty. Do not be afraid to go with Christ and be subject to those who have authority from above and so declare Christ obedience unto death. Rejoice that once more Christ is walking through the world, in you and through you, going about doing good. (207)

 

60. If you are put in the kitchen, you must not think it does not require brains—--that sitting, standing, coming, going, anything will do. God will not ask that sister how many books she has read; how many miracles she has worked; but he will ask her if she has done her best, for the love of him. Can she in all sincerity say, ”I have done my best”? Even if the best is failure, it must be our best, our utmost. (207)

 

61. The contemplative and apostolic fruitfulness of our way of life depends on our being rooted in Christ Jesus our Lord by our deliberate choice of small and simple means for the fulfillment of our mission and by our fidelity to humble work of love among the spiritually poorest, identifying ourselves with them, sharing their poverty and insecurities until it hurts. (207)

 

62. We need prayers in order to better carry out the work of God. Pray for us, so that the work we do may be God’s work and so that in every moment we may know how to be completely available to him. (207)

 

Link back to index.html