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Mother Teresa on Make me an Instrument of Your Peace

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

 

Mother Teresa loves this prayer. She has incorporated it into the daily devotions of her order, the Missionaries of Charity, and she often asks her audiences to say it with her.

The prayer is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, and it certainly his life.

Francis was born in 1181 or 1182 to a wealthy cloth merchant in central Italy. As a teenager and a young man, he enjoyed parties, mischief, and military skirmishes. But when he was in his mid twenties, a change began to come over him. More and more, he was attracted to a life of prayer and service to the poor.

On a pilgrimage to Rome, Francis traded clothes with a leper both to help the sick man and to understand how he felt. He sold some of his father’s fine cloth to rebuild a ruined church near Assisi. (His father disinherited him for his lack of business sense.) He gathered about him a group of men and women who pledged to live in utter poverty and preach the kingdom of God. Francis’s followers quickly began to preach, heal, and pray, not only in Italy but also in Africa, in Asia Minor, and throughout Europe.

St. Francis died in his mid-forties, but his contribution to

Christianity still continues eight hundred years later in the Franciscans and the Poor Clares. His devotion to poverty, compassion for the poor, and prayerful contemplation of Christ is a constant source of inspiration to Mother Teresa.

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

0 divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

         it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

    it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

 

1. Each one of us is merely a small instrument; all of us, after accomplishing our mission, will disappear. (58)

 

2. All of us should work for peace. But to obtain that peace all of us have to learn from Jesus to be meek and humble of heart. Only humility will lead us to unity, and unity to peace. To that end, let us help each other draw closer to Jesus so that we may learn the lesson of humility with joy. (58)

 

3. We want this year to be, above all, a year of peace. With that aim, we will try to talk more with God than with men. (58)

 

4. Let us spread Christ’s peace as he did. He planted good everywhere. He did not forsake his works of charity because the Pharisees and others rejected him and tried to spoil his Father’s work. Cardinal Newman wrote: “Make me preach thee without preaching—--not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do—--by my visible resemblance to thy saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to thee.” (58)

 

5. In the world there is too much hatred, too much fighting. We will not be able to put them away with guns or bombs or any kind of weapon that wounds. We will attain that only through gestures of love, of joy, and of peace. (59)

 

6. With the Noble Peace Prize that I have been given, I will try to build homes for many people who are without shelter. I am convinced that love begins at home. So if we can build more homes for the poor, I think that will make even more love possible among our people. This compassionate love will help us to bring peace, to be the good news to the poor. First, we must bring peace to the poor in our own families. After that, we must bring this peace to the poor in our own country, and from there to the whole world. To be capable of doing this, our sisters’ lives must be saturated with prayer. They have to live completely surrendered to Christ, so they can understand and share this peace that God brings. There is so much suffering today. (59)

 

7. Let us give thanks to God for the opportunity that he has given us in our day. Let us thank him for this peace prize which reminds us that we have been created to live in peace. Jesus became man to bring that good news to the poor. Being God, he became like us in every way except sin. And he proclaimed dearly that he had come to bring good news. That good news was God’s peace to all men of good will. That peace is something which is fundamental to the satisfaction of our most basic desires. It is a peace of the heart. (59)

 

8. Our works of love are nothing but works of peace. Let us do them with greater love and efficiency. It is always the same Christ who says:

I was hungry—--not only for food, but for peace that comes from a pure heart.

I was thirsty--—not for water, but for peace that satiates the passionate thirst of passion for war.

I was naked—--not for clothes, but for the beautiful dignity of men and women for their bodies.

I was homeless—--not for a shelter made of bricks, but for a heart that understands, that covers, that loves. (59)

 

9. In our work we may often be caught in idle conversations or gossip. Let us be well on our guard, for we may be caught while visiting families. We may talk about the private affairs of this or that one and so forget the real aim of our visit. We come to bring the peace of Christ, and what if we are a cause of trouble? How our Lord will be hurt by such conduct! We must never allow people to speak against priests, religious, or their neighbors. (60)

 

10. If we find that a family is in a bad mood and is sure to start a tale of uncharitableness, let us say a fervent prayer for them and then say a few things which may help them to think a little about God; then let us leave the place at once. We can do no good until their restless nerves are at peace. We must follow the same conduct with those who want to talk with the aim of wasting our precious time. (60)

 

11. If each one of us would simply remember that God loves us and is giving us the chance to love others in that love—--not so much in big things but in the little things of life—--our countries could become full of God’s love. And how beautiful it would be if the power of peace would go forth and destroy the power to make war and take life. How great it would be to see the joy of life break forth into the lives of the unborn! If you become this kind of torch lit for peace in the world, then indeed the Nobel Peace Prize will be a true gift from the Norwegian people. God bless you! (60)

 

Where there it hatred let me sow love...

 

12. “My new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

“If a man loves me, he will keep my Word.... My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:21-23).

In loving one another through our works we bring an increase of grace and a growth in divine love. Since Jesus’ love is our mutual love, we will be able to love as he loves, and he will manifest himself through us to each other and to the world; by this mutual love they will know that we are His. (60)

 

13. Such is the chain that unites and binds us, the old with the young, a chain of gold, a thousand times stronger than flesh and blood, interest or friendship, because these permit the defects of the body and the vices of the soul to be seen, while charity covers all, hides all, to offer exclusively to admiration and love the work of the hands of God, the price of the blood of Jesus Christ, and the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit. (61)

 

14. Today God loves the world through you and through me. Are we that love and that compassion? God proves that Christ loves us—--that he has come to be his Father’s compassion. Today God is loving the world through you and through me and through all those who are his love and compassion in the world. (61)

 

15. Jesus came into this world for one purpose. He came to give us the good news that God loves us, that God is love, that he loves you, and he loves me. He wants us to love one another as he loves each one of us. Let us love him. How did the Father love him? He gave him to us. How did Jesus love you and me?—--by giving his life. He gave all that he had—--his life---for you and me. He died on the cross because he loved us, and he wants us to love one another as he loves each one of us. When we look at the cross, we know how he loved us. When we look at the manger we know how he loves us now, you and me, your family, and everybody’s family with a tender love. And God loves us with a tender love. That is all that Jesus came to teach us, the tender love of God. “I have called you by your name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). (61)

 

16. Charity is patient; it is kind; it is not jealous; it is not malicious, arrogant, or insolent. It is not self seeking and never aims at evil. It is not pleased with the suffering of others it rejoices in the victories of good; it has faith and hope and stands until the end (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). A Missionary of Charity must be full of charity toward her own soul and must spread this charity among both Christians and pagans. (61)

 

17. We do not need to carry out grand things in order to show a great love for God and for our neighbor. It is the intensity of love we put into our gestures that makes them into something beautiful for God. (62)

 

18. I want you to go and find the poor in your homes. Above all, your love has to start there. I want you to be the good news to those around you. I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know who your neighbor is? Who are your neighbors? (62)

 

19. Now, more than ever we need to live out the teaching of Jesus: “Love one another, as the Father has loved me.” We have to love as the Father loves his Son Jesus, with the same mercy and compassion, joy and peace. Try to find out how the Father loves his Son, and then try to love one another in the same way. Find out in all humility how much you are loved by Jesus. From the time you realize that you are loved by Jesus, love as he loves you. (62)

 

20. Our love for one another will be:

— selfless, generous, tender, personal, and respectful;

— beyond likes and dislikes, friendship and enmity, worthiness or unworthiness;

— faithful, deep, and freeing;

— not compromising because we care; compassionate and forgiving because we understand;

— always inspiring, encouraging, trusting, wholehearted, and sacrificial unto the death of the cross. (62)

 

21. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, and with all thy mind” (Deuteronomy 6:5, KJV). This is the command of our great God, and he cannot command the impossible. Love is a fruit, in season at all times and within the reach of every hand. Anyone may gather it and no limit is set. Everyone can reach this love through meditation, the spirit of prayer, and sacrifices, by an intense interior life. Do I really live this life? (62)

 

22. We must not be ashamed to love Christ with our emotions. A woman loves her husband with her whole heart. In her autobiography, the little Flower tells about a relative who came to see her. This woman was always talking about her husband, about his long hair, his beautiful eyes, and so on. She expressed her love for him so beautifully. The little Flower listened to her and then wrote these words in her diary “I will never allow a woman to love her husband more than I love you, O Jesus Christ”

Jesus was everything to her. She was so attached to Christ. Is it the same for you? Do you love Christ like that? We must love Christ with our emotions. Let us all make use of our ability to love.

Be one with him, joined to him and united to him so that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate you from the love of Christ. He belongs to you and you belong to him. It’s as simple as that. Accept whatever he gives and give whatever he takes with a big smile.

Yet we forget. We can love the leper, the one with the broken and disfigured face, but we forget to love our sister when she is proud or impatient. We forget that it is only a distressing disguise, that the person is really Jesus. We do not have undivided love for Christ but, instead, we let the devil trick us with the distressing disguise. We must be holy. We must be able to see Jesus in our sisters and in the poor.

When the little Flower was canonized, no great things were uncovered for her canonization. She was canonized for one thing only. As Pius X said, “She did ordinary things with extraordinary love”—--small things with great love. This is what you and I gave when we gave our word to Jesus. This is our vow. (63)

 

23. Our holy faith is nothing but a gospel of love, revealing to us God’s love for men and claiming in return man’s love for God. “God is love”: a missionary must be a missionary of love. We must spread God’s love on earth if we want to make souls repent wholeheartedly for sin, to strengthen them in temptation, and to increase their generosity and their desire to suffer for Christ. Let us act Christ’s love among men, remembering the words of the Imitation, “Love feels no burden, values no labors, would willingly do more than it can, complains not of impossibilities, because it conceives that it may and can do all things; when weary is not tired; when strained is not constrained; when frightened is not disturbed; but like a living flame and torch all on fire, it mounts upwards and securely passes through all opposition? (64)

 

24. In the Scripture we read of the tenderness of God for the world, and we read that God loved the world so much that he gave his Son Jesus to come to be like us and to bring us the good news that God is love, that God loves you and loves me. God wants us to love each other as he loves each one of us. We all know, when we look at the cross, how Jesus loved us. When we look at the Eucharist we know how he loves us now. That’s why he made himself the Bread of Life to satisfy our hunger for his love, and then, as if this was not enough for him, he made himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, so that you and I can satisfy his hunger for our human love. For we have been created for that. We have been created to love and to be loved. (64)

 

25. One day I was walking down the street of London. And I saw a tall, thin man on the corner, all huddled up looking most miserable.

I went up to him, shook his hand, and asked him how he was. Then he looked up at me and said, “Oh! After such a long, long, long time I feel the warmth of a human hand!” And he sat up.

There was such a beautiful smile on his face, because somebody was kind to him. Just shaking his hand had made him feel like somebody.

For me, he was Jesus in a distressing disguise. I gave him the joy of being loved, the feeling of being loved by somebody.

Somebody loves us, too—--God himself. (64)

 

... where there is injury, pardon. . .

 

26. These are the few ways we can practice humility:

To speak as little as possible of oneself

To mind one’s own business.

Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.

To avoid curiosity

To accept contradiction and correction cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten, and disliked.

Not to seek to be specially loved and admired.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one’s dignity.

To yield in discussion even though one is right.

To choose always the hardest. (65)

 

27. In these times of development, the whole world runs and is hurried. But there are some who fall down on the way and have no strength to go ahead. These are the ones we should care about. (65)

 

28. Let us be very sincere in our dealing with each other and have the courage to accept each other as we are. Do not be surprised or become preoccupied at each other’s failure; rather see and find the good in each other, for each one of us is created in the image of God. Jesus has said it so beautifully: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” Let us try to see and accept that every sister a branch of Christ the vine. The life-giving sap that flows from the vine through each of the branches is the same. (65)

 

29. If sometimes we feel as if the Master is away, is it not because we have kept ourselves far from someone? One thing will always secure heaven for us: acts of charity and kindness with which we have filled our lives. We will never know how much good just a simple smile can do. We tell people how kind, forgiving, and understanding God is—--are we the living proof? Can they really see this kindness, this forgiveness, this understanding, alive in us? (65)

 

30. Be kind in your actions. Do not think you are the only one who can do the efficient work, work worth showing. This makes you harsh in your judgment of others who may not have the same talents. God will ask of that sister only what He has given her, and not what He has given you; so why interfere with the plan of God? All things are His, and He gives as He pleases. You do your best and think that others do their best for God’s own purpose. Their best may be a total failure—--what is that to you? You follow the way He has chosen for you. For others also, let Him choose. (66)

 

31. Let us admire Christ compassion toward Judas. The Master kept a holy silence: He did not want to reveal His betrayer in front of His comrades. Jesus could have easily spoken out and unveiled the hidden intentions of Judas. He preferred mercy rather than condemnation. He called him fiend. If Judas had looked in Jesus’ eyes, he would surely have been the friend of God’s mercy. (66)

 

. . .where there is doubt, faith...

 

32. Dons Marmion wrote: “All you have to do is abandon yourselves in His hand like wax, so that He will cut without fear the the useless parts.” For his part, when Dom Marmion underwent the temptation to abandon his order, he prostrated himself in front of the tabernacle and shouted out, “May I be broken into pieces rather than abandon the monastery”

Are we strong enough, to the point of preferring to be cut into pieces rather than abandon Christ? One cannot change one’s profession as easily as one can change dress.

In our day all things grow weaker. Even the most sacred ties are untied. Let us submit to the Rock, who is Christ. (66)

 

33. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. Nothing is small for our good   God, for he is great and we are small. That is why he lowers himself and cares to do small things in order to offer us an opportunity to show him our love. Since he does them, they are great things, they are infinite. Nothing he does can be small. (67)

 

34. Faithfulness to the Rule is the most delicate and precious flower we can offer God. The Rule expresses God’s will: we have to submit to it to our last breath.

When the Rule becomes one of the things we love most, that love becomes a free service that is carried out with a smile. Submission, for a person who loves, is more than a duty; it is the secret of holiness.

We are to be persuaded that even the smallest unjustified transgression wounds the heart of Jesus and stains our conscience. We must be faithful in small things, not for themselves—--for that would be for petty spirits—--but because of God’s will, which we always have to respect in small things. The smallest Rule contains God’s will, no less than the great things of life.

In order to understand this truth, we must be convinced that the Rule has a divine origin. We must hold fast to it, as a small child holds fast to his mother.

We must love this truth with our will and with our reason. It does not matter if sometimes it seems hard, austere, and artificial. God has been so wonderful to us; it is our duty to be wonderful toward him. (67)

 

35. Faith is a gift from God. Without faith, no life is possible. For our work to bear fruit, for it to belong to God alone, it must be founded on faith. Christ has said, “I was hungry, naked, sick, homeless.... You did it for me” (Matthew 25:35-40). Our work is founded on faith in these words of Christ. Faith is scarce nowadays because selfishness is quite abundant; personal advantage is sought above all. Faith cannot be genuine without being generous. Love and faith go together; they complement each other. (67)

 

36. Q: In the event that you had to work in a country where you were only allowed to work for the poor under the condition that you renounce your faith and your religion, would you be capable of staying to help the poor? Or would you have to go elsewhere so you could practice your religion?

MT: No one can take my religion away from me. They can’t prevent me from believing or snatch it away from me. It is something that is inside of me. And if there were no other alternative, if that were the only way that Christ chose to come to those people, then I would stay to serve them. But I would not renounce my faith. I would be willing to lose my life but not my faith. (68)

 

37. [Practice] fidelity in the least things, not for their own sake—--for this is the work of small minds—--but for the sake of the great thing, which is the will of God and which I respect greatly in little things. St. Augustine says: “little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.” Is not our Lord equally present in a small host as in a great one? The smallest rule contains the will of God as much as the big things of life. (68)

 

38. In order for us to be able to love, we need to have faith, because faith is love in action, and love in action is service. This is why Jesus became the Bread of Life: so that we may be able to eat and to see him in the faces of the poor. In order for us to be able to love we have to see and touch. And so Jesus made the poor the hope of salvation for you and for me. In fact, Jesus said, “As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40). (68)

 

. . .where there is despair, hope...

 

30. The poor are a hope. They represent, in fact, the hope of the world through their courage. They offer us a different way of loving God, by urging us to do all we can to help them. (68)

 

. . .where there is darkness, light. . .

 

40. In the poor neighborhoods we are God’s light and kindness. (68)

 

41. Knowledge of Christ and him in his poor will lead us to personal love. This love only can become our light and joy in cheerful service of each other. Do not forget we need each other. Our lives would be empty without each other. How can we love God and his poor if we do not love each other with whom we live and break the Bread of Life daily? (69)

 

42. These words of Jesus, “Love one another, even as I have loved you,” should be not only a light to us, but they should also be a flame consuming the selfishness which prevents our growth in holiness. Jesus loved us to the end, to the very limit of love, to the cross. This love must come from within—--from our union with Christ. It must be an outpouring of our love for God. Loving must be as normal to us as living and breathing, day after day until our death. To understand this and practice it we need much prayer, the kind that unites us with God and overflows continually upon others. Our works of charity are nothing but the overflow of our love of God from within. Therefore, the one who is most united to him loves her neighbor most. (69)

 

43. Jesus wants us to give of ourselves every moment. You have been taught by those who have given their whole lives to Christ. By their teaching and personal example, they have kindled the light of Christ in your lives. The time has come for you likewise to kindle the same light of Christ in the lives of those around you. (69)

 

44. Listen to what Jesus says “I want you to be my fire of love among the poor, the dying, and the small. I want you to bring the poor to me.” Learn this expression by heart, and repeat it when you lack generosity. We risk rejecting Jesus every time we reject others.

If our attitude is “I will not give you my hands to work, my eyes to see, my legs to walk, my spirit to study, my heart to love. You will knock at my door, but I will not open,” then it is a wounded Christ, a battered Christ, a Christ of deformity that we give to others.

If you want others to love him, you must first make him known to them. So give a whole Christ to those who live in the inner city—--a Christ full of love, of joy, of light. Do not be a dim light, but a shining light. (69)

 

45. What you contemplatives have to bring is your presence, and by that presence you will bring light. Christ must be the light that shines through you, and the people looking at you must see only Jesus. Don’t try to be anything else but that. You have a challenge from Jesus to meet: He has shed the light, and you will take his light and lighten every heart you meet. You will not work in big groups or with big numbers, but in the street, in the hospitals, in the jails: Any place where darkness has surrounded that person, you are to be the light-bearer. (70)

 

46. Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.

How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. If the drops of oil run out, the light of the lamp will cease, and the bridegroom will say, “I do not know you” (Matthew 25:1-13).

What are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, punctuality, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. These are the true drops of love that keep our religious life burning like a lively flame.

Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves. He is not out there; He is in you. Keep your lamp burning, and you will recognize Him. (70)

 

47. Joy is love, the normal result of a heart burning with love. Our lamp will be burning with sacrifices made out of love if we have joy. Then the Bridegroom will say, “Come and possess the kingdom prepared for you.” It is a joyful sister who gives most. Everyone loves the one who gives with joy and so does God. Don’t we always turn to someone who will give happily and without grumbling? “Joy is a net of love by which we catch souls.” Because we are full of joy, everyone wants to be with us and to receive the light of Christ that we possess.... Daily, we pray, “Help me to spread your fragrance,” yours, Lord, not mine. (70)

 

48. My sisters also work in Australia. On the reservation, among the Aborigines, there was an elderly man. I can assure you that you have never seen a situation as difficult as that poor old man’s. He was completely ignored by everyone. His home was disordered and dirty.

I told him, “Please let me clean your house, wash your clothes, and make your bed.” He answered, “I’m okay like this. Let it be.”

I said again, “You will be still better if you allow me to do it.”

He finally agreed. So I was able to clean his house and wash his clothes. I discovered a beautiful lamp, covered with dust. Only God knows how many years had passed since he last lit it.

I said to him, “Don’t you light that lamp? Don’t you ever use it?”

He answered, “No. No one comes to see me. I have no need to light it. Who would I do it for?”

I asked, “Would you light it every night if the sisters came?”

He replied, “Of course.”

From that day on the sisters committed themselves to visiting him every evening. We cleaned the lamp, and the sisters would light it in evening.

Two years passed. I had completely forgotten that man. He sent this message: “Tell my friend that the light she lit in my life continues to shine still.”

I thought it was a very small thing. We often neglect small things. (71)

 

       . . .where there is sadness, joy. . .

 

49. May the joy of the risen Jesus Christ be with you, to bring joy into your very soul. The good God has given himself to us. In return for the great grace of baptism, the priest tells the newly baptized, “May you serve the church joyfully.” (71)

 

50. Easter is one of the feasts of our Society, a feast of joy—--the joy of the Lord. Let nothing so disturb us, so fill us with sorrow or discouragement, as to make us forfeit the joy of the resurrection. (71)

 

 51. May the joy of our risen Lord be your strength in your work, your way to the Father, your light to guide you and your Bread of Life. (72)

 

52. May the joy and love of the risen Jesus be always with you, in you, and among you, so that we all become the true witnesses of his Father’s love for the world: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his Son” (John 3:16). Let us also love God so much that we give ourselves to him in each other and in his poor. (72)

 

53. Joy is not simply a matter of temperament in the service of God and souls; it is always hard—--all the more reason why we should try to acquire it and make it grow in our hearts. (72)

 

54. To children and to the poor, to all those who suffer and are lonely; give them always a happy smile; give them not only your care but also your heart. We may not be able to give much but we can always give the joy that springs from a heart that is in love with God. Joy is very infectious. Therefore, be always full of joy when you go among the poor. (72)

 

55. Someone once asked me, “Are you married?” And I said, “Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at Jesus because he can be very demanding.” This is really something true. And there is where love comes—--when it is demanding, and yet we can give it to Him with joy. (72)

 

56. Cheerfulness and joy was Our Lady’s strength. This made her a willing handmaid of God, her Son, for as soon as he came to her she “went in haste.” Only joy could have given her the strength to go in haste over the hills of Judea to do the work of handmaid to her cousin. So with us too; we like her must be true handmaids of the Lord and daily after Holy Communion go in haste, over the hills of difficulties we meet in giving whole-hearted service to the poor. Give Jesus to the poor as the handmaid of the Lord. (72)

 

57.  God loves a cheerful giver. He gives most who gives with joy. If in the work you have difficulties and you accept them with joy, with a big smile—--in this, as in any other good thing—--they will see your good works and glorify the Father. The best way to show your gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. (73)

 

58. What is required of a Missionary of Charity is this: health of mind and body; ability to learn; a good dose of good sense; joyous character. If one of my sisters is not in at least a serene mood, I do not allow her to go visit the poor. The poor already have so many reasons to feel sad; how could we take them the affliction of our own personal bad moods? (73)

 

59. Joy is strength. The poor felt attracted to Jesus because a higher power dwelt in him and flowed from him—--out of his eyes, his hands, his body—--completely released and present to God and to men. (73)

 

60. Strive to be the demonstration of God in the midst of your community. We have to radiate the joy of being poor, with no need for words. We must be happy in our poverty. (73)

 

61. Novices, I desire to hear the music of your smiles of joy. (73)

 

62. People do not seem very willing to see us, but all of them hunger and thirst for what God wants to give them through us. All over the world men are hungry and thirsty for God’s love. You meet that hunger by spreading joy. (73)

 

63. In order to spread joy, joy needs to reign in the family. Peace and war start within one’s own home. If we really want peace for the world, let us start by loving one another within our families. We will thus have Christ’s joy, which is our strength. Sometimes it is hard for us to smile at one another. It is often difficult for the husband to smile at his wife or for the wife to smile at her husband. (73)

 

64. What would our life be like if the sisters were not cheerful? It would be mere slavery. We would work without attracting anybody. Sadness, discouragement, and slowness open the doors for sloth, which is the mother of all evils.

If you are joyful, do not worry about lukewarmness. Joy will shine in your eyes and in your look, in your conversation and in your countenance. You will not be able to hide it because joy overflows. When people see happiness in your eyes, they will become aware of their nature as children of God.

Holy souls sometimes undergo great inward trial, and they know darkness. But if we want others to become aware of the presence of Jesus, we must be the first ones convinced of it.

Imagine a sister who goes to the slums with a sad face and a slow pace. What can her presence convey to poor people? Nothing but a deeper discouragement.

Joy is very contagious. Try, therefore to be always overflowing with joy whenever you go among the poor.

Joy, according to St. Bonaventure, has been given to man so that he can rejoice in God because of the hope of the eternal good and on the sight of all the benefits he receives from God. Thus he will know how to rejoice at his neighbor’s prosperity, how to be pleased in giving glory to God, and how to feel discontent concerning empty things. (74)

 

65. Joy must be one of the pivots of our life. It is the token of a generous personality. Sometimes it is also a mantle that clothes a life of sacrifice and self-giving.

A person who has this gift often reaches high summits. He or she is like a sun in a community. Let those who suffer find in us comforting angels.

Why has the work in the slums been blessed by God? Certainly not because of given personal qualities, but because of the joy that the sisters spread as they pass by.

The people of the world lack our joy. Those who live in the s1um have still less of it. Our joy is the best means to preach Christianity to the heathen. (74)

 

66. We should ask ourselves, “Have I really experienced the joy of loving?” True love is love that causes us pain, that hurts, and yet brings us joy. That is why we must pray to God and ask him to give us the courage to love. (75)

 

67. As Jesus’ co-workers, one thing we have to learn is to sow joy. We don’t need bombs or weapons to bring peace to the world. We need that love and compassion we ask for every day. We need a truly compassionate love—--a compassion and love that bring joy and peace. The world is hungry for God. (75)

 

68. To bring joy to us, Jesus became man. Mary was the first one to receive Jesus: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). The child in Elizabeth’s womb leapt with joy because Mary carried Jesus to him.

In Bethlehem, joy filled everyone: the shepherds, the angels, the three kings, Joseph, and Mary. Joy was also the characteristic mark of the first Christians. During the persecution, people used to look for those who had this joy radiating on their faces. By that joy, they knew who the Christians were and thus they persecuted them.

St. Paul, whom we are trying to imitate in our zeal, was an apostle of joy. He urged the early Christians to rejoice in the Lord always. Paul’s whole life can be summed up in one sentence, “I belong to Christ.” Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ, neither suffering nor persecution nor anything (Romans 8:35-39). “I live, now it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). That is why St. Paul was so full of joy. (75)

 

69. Joy is a need and a power for us, even physically.

A sister who has cultivated a spirit of joy feels less tired and is always ready to go on doing good.

God is joy. He is love. A sister filled with joy preaches without preaching.

A joyful sister is like the sunshine of God’s love, the hope of eternal happiness, the flame of burning love.

In our Society, a cheerful disposition is one of the main virtues required for a Missionary of Charity. The spirit of our Society is total surrender, loving trust and cheerfulness. That is why the Society expects us to accept humiliations readily and with joy; to live the life of poverty with cheerful trust; to imitate the chastity of Mary, the cause of our joy; to offer cheerful obedience from inward joy; to minister to Christ in his distressing disguise with cheerful devotion. (75)

 

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand,

to be loved, as to love.

 

70. The more repugnant the work, the greater should be our faith and cheerful devotion. That we feel repugnance is but natural, but when we overcome it for love of Jesus we may become heroic. Very often it has happened in the lives of the saints that a heroic overcoming of repugnance has been what has lifted them to sanctity. This was the case with St. Francis of Assisi, who, when meeting a completely disfigured leper, drew back. But then, overcoming himself; he kissed the terrible, disfigured face. The result was that Francis was filled with an untold joy. He became the complete master of himself, and the leper walked away praising God for his cure. (76)

 

71. Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity. If you learn this art of being thoughtful, you will become more and more Christ-like, for his heart was meek and he always thought of others. Jesus “Went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Our Lady did nothing else in Cana, but thought of the need of the others and made their need known to Jesus. The thoughtfulness of Jesus and Mary and Joseph was so great that it made Nazareth the abode of God Most High. If we also have that kind of thoughtfulness fur each other, our community will really become the abode of God Most High. (76)

 

72. How beautiful our convents will become where there is this total thoughtfulness of each other’s needs! The quickest and the surest way is the tongue: use it for the good of others. If you think well of others, you will also speak well of others and to others. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If your heart is full of love, you will speak of love. (76)

 

73. How beautiful it is to see the love for each other a living reality! Young sisters, have deep love and respect for your older sisters. Older sisters, treat your younger sisters with respect and love, for they, like you, belong to Jesus. He has chosen each one of you for himself; to be his love and his light in the world. The simplest way of becoming his light is by being kind and loving, thoughtful, and sincere with each other: “By this they will know that you are his disciples” (John 13:35). (77)

 

74. We have all tried in some way or another to be a real joy to Our Lady. So often during the day, we call her the “cause of our joy” because the joy of her Son is our strength. Let us promise that we will make our community another Bethlehem, another Nazareth. Let us love each other as we love Jesus. In Nazareth there was love, unity, prayer, sacrifice, and hard work; and there was especially a deep understanding and appreciation of each other and thoughtfulness for each other. (77)

 

75. It may happen that a mere smile, a short visit, the lighting of a lamp, writing a letter for a blind man, carrying a bucket of charcoal, offering a pair of sandals, reading the newspaper for someone—--something small, very small—--may, in fact, be our love of God in action. (77)

 

76. There are many medicines and cures for all kinds of sick people. But unless kind hands are given in service and generous hearts are given in love, I do not think there can ever be any cure for the terrible sickness of feeling unloved. (77)

 

77. The first listening groups have begun to bud among our Co-workers. Those who make up these groups visit the elderly—--sometimes in very common and poor houses—--and sit down, just letting them talk on and on. The elderly enjoy having someone who listens to them, even when what they have to say go back to twenty or thirty years ago. Listening, when no one else volunteers to do it, is no doubt a very noble thing. (77)

 

78. My vows bind me to my sister because she is much poorer than the poor outside. If I am not kind and do not smile to the poor outside, someone else will. But for my sister there is no one else. (78)

 

79. Be kind, very kind, to the suffering poor. We little realize what they go through. The most difficult part is the feeling of not being wanted. This is the first hardship a leper experiences, even today. Show your love for them by being very kind—--act kindly, speak kindly. I prefer our sisters to make mistakes through kindness than to work miracles through harshness and unkindness. (78)

 

80. Kindness has converted more people than zeal, science, or eloquence. We take a vow to give wholehearted service to the poor. Does this not mean love of the poor? The poor are not at our service. If we want the poor to see Christ in us, we must first see Christ in the poor. (78)

 

81. Holiness grows so fast where there is kindness. I have never heard of kind souls going astray. The world is lost for want of sweetness and kindness. In religious houses this kindness is in greater danger, for we have grown so much used to each other that some think they are free to say anything to anybody at any time. They expect the other sisters to bear with their unkindness. Why not try first to put a brake on your own tongue? You know what you can do, but you do not know how much the other can bear. Why not give the chance of holiness to yourself first? Your holiness will be of greater help to your sisters than the chance you give her to put up with your unkindness. (78)

 

82. The only thing Jesus has asked us to be is meek and humble of heart, and to do this, he has taught us to pray. He has put “meek” first. From that one word comes gentleness, thoughtfulness, simplicity, generosity, truthfulness. For whom? For one another. Jesus put “humility” after meekness. We cannot love one another unless we hear the voice of God in our hearts. (78)

 

83. One year I wanted to do something special for our sisters. I sent out a newsletter to each one of them, to each community, suggesting that each one write down what she thought was beautiful in her sisters and in her community. I asked that each sister send her answer to me. Just imagine! A thousand letters arrived. I had to sit down and patiently read each one, making a list of each community and all the sisters. Later I returned the letters to the communities.

The sisters were surprised that someone would notice such beautiful things in them—--that there was someone who was able to see them. All of this fostered a beautiful spirit of love, understanding, and sharing.

I feel that we too often focus only on the negative aspect of life, on what is bad. If we were more willing to see the good and the beautiful things that surround us, we would be able to transform our families. From there, we would change our next-door neighbors and then others who live in our neighborhood or city. We would be able to bring peace and love to our world which hungers so much for these things. (79)

 

84. Let us understand the tenderness of God’s love. For he speaks in the Scripture, “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not for get you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand” (Isaiah 49:15-16). When you feel lonely, when you feel unwanted, when you feel sick and forgotten, remember you are precious to him. He loves you. And show that love for one another, for this is all that Jesus came to teach us. (79)

 

85. Our Lord, at his dying moment, thought of his mother. That is the proof that he was human to the last. Therefore, if you have a loving nature, keep it and use it for God; if you have a genial temperament that causes you to smile, keep it and use it for God. (79)

 

For it is in giving that we receive. . .

 

86. May God give back to you in love all the love you have given and all the joy and peace you have sown around you, all over the world. May God bless you deeply. (80)

 

87. Those who helped us during the difficulties that the Bengali refugees underwent claimed that they had received more from those they helped than they had been able to give. This is exactly what each one of us experiences when we come in touch with the poorest poor. (80)

 

88. I am convinced that today’s youth are more generous than those of times past. Our youth are better prepared and more willing to sacrifice for the service of man. For that reason, it is no surprise that young people have a preference for our congregation. To a large extent these are young people from the middle class. They have everything: wealth, comfort, high status. However, they ask to enter a congregation that is at the service of the poor, in order to lead a life of real poverty and contemplation. (80)

 

89. Sometimes the rich seem very willing to share in their own way the unhappiness of others. But it is a pity that they never give to the point of feeling that they are in need.

The present generations, especially children, understand better. There are English children who make sacrifices in order to be able to offer a muffin to our children. There are Danish children who make sacrifices in order to be able to offer others a glass of milk every day. And German children do the same in order to be able to offer the poor some fortified food.

These are concrete ways of teaching love. When these children grow up, they will know what it means to give. (80)

 

90. I would like Co-workers to put their hands and their hearts at the service of others. If they do not make contact with the poor, they will not be able to know who they are. (80)

 

91. Here in Calcutta we have a number of non-Christians and Christians who work together in the house of the dying and other places. There are also some who offer their care to the lepers.

One day an Australian man came and made a substantial donation. But as he did this he said, “This is something external. Now I want to give something of myself:” He now comes regularly to the house of the dying to shave the sick men and to converse with them.

This man gives not only his money but also his time. He could have spent it on himself, but what he wants is to give himself. (81)

 

92. I often ask for gifts that have nothing to do with money. There are things one can get. What I desire is the presence of the donor, for him to touch those to whom he gives, for him to smile at them, for him to pay attention in them. All of this is very meaningful for those people. (81)

 

93. I urge people to join our work for our profit and the profit of everyone. I never ask them for money or any material thing. I ask them to bring their love, to offer the sacrifice of their hands. When these people run across those in need, their first move is to do thing. When they come the second time, they already feel committed. After some time they feel they belong to the poor and that they are filled with the need to love. They discover who they are and what it is that they themselves can give. (81)

 

94. In all our houses and in the novitiate God grants generosity to the religious sisters. Preserve that generosity—--you will have all reason to feel happy. Continue smiling at Jesus, through a smile at your superiors, at your sisters, at the poor. (81)

 

95. I think that a person who is attached to riches, who lives with the worry of riches, is actually very poor. If this person puts his money at the service of others, then he is rich, very rich. (81)

 

96. If our poor die of hunger, it is not because God does not care for them. Rather, it is because neither you nor I are generous enough. It is because we are not instruments of love in the hands of God to give them food and clothing. We do not recognize Christ when once again he appears to us under the appearance of suffering—--in the hungry man, in the lonely, in the child who is looking for a place where he can get warm. (82)

 

97. I will tell you a story. One night a man came to our house and told me, “There is a family with eight children. They have not eaten for days.” I took some food with me and went.

When I came to that family, I saw the faces of those little children disfigured by hunger. There was no sorrow or sadness in their faces, just the deep pain of hunger.

I gave the rice to the mother. She divided the rice in two, and went out carrying half the rice. When she came back, I asked her, “Where did you go?” She gave me this simple answer, “To my neighbors—--they are hungry also!”

Her neighbors were Muslims. I was not surprised that she gave, because poor people are really very generous. But I was surprised that she knew they were hungry. As a rule, when we are suffering, we are so focused on ourselves we have no time for others. This woman showed something of the truly generous love of Christ. (82)

 

98. The other day, two fiends of mine came to see me. They brought me a large amount of money to use for feeding the poor. (You must know that just in Calcutta we feed around nine thousand people daily.) I asked them, “Where did you get all that money?”

They answered, “We were married two days ago, but before that we had decided not to have a large wedding banquet. As a witness of our love for each other, we wanted to bring this money to Mother Teresa.”

This is the greatness of young people! They are so generous! I asked them further, “Why did you do this?”

They answered, “We love each other so very much, that we wanted to share our love with other people, especially with those you are serving.” (82)

 

99. I will never forget how a little four-year-old Hindu child taught me how to show great love. It was a time when we had no sugar in Calcutta. I do not know how that little one heard that Mother Teresa had no sugar for her children. He went home to his parents and told them, ”I will not eat sugar for three days. I’ll give my sugar to Mother Teresa.” That little one loved with great love. He loved until it hurt. And so must we. (83)

 

100. Some time ago I made a trip to Ethiopia. Our sisters were working there during that terrible drought. Just as I was about to leave for Ethiopia, I found myself surrounded by many children.

Each one of them gave something, “Take this to the children! Take this to the children!” they would say. They had many gifts that they wanted to give to our poor.

Then a small child, who for the first time had a piece of chocolate, came up to me and said, “I do not want to eat it. You take it and give it to the children.”

This little one gave a great deal, because he gave it all, and he gave something that was very precious to him.

Have you ever experienced the joy of giving? I do not want you to give me from your abundance. I never allow people to have fund-raisers for me. I don’t want that. I want you to give of yourself.

The love you put into the giving is the most important thing. If you want a happy family, if you want a holy family, learn to share. Give your hands to serve and your hearts to love. (83)

 

101. For some time now, we have had a small community of sisters in Guatemala. We came there during the earthquake of 1972 which caused so much damage.

The sisters in Guatemala came to love and serve as they do everywhere. They told me something beautiful about a very poor man who was picked up from the city streets and brought to one of our homes. He was very sick, disabled, hungry, helpless. But somehow, with the help of everybody, he got well again.

He told the sisters, “I want to go and leave this bed for somebody else who may need it as much as I needed it when I came here.”

And I believe now he has a job. I don’t think he earns much, but he is working. Every time he gets a little money, he remembers the other disabled people who are in the home and comes to see them.

He always brings something for them.

Even with the little he has, he always brings something.

This is the great gift of our poor people: the love they have. (83)

 

102. I don’t want people donating just to get rid of something. There are people in Calcutta who have so much money that they want to get rid of it. The government puts pressure on the wealthy. They sometimes have money to spare, money that they try to hide. In some cases they make a package, write the name of Mother Teresa on it, and then send it.

A few days ago I received a package wrapped in plain paper. I thought that it might contain stamps, cards, or something like that; so few hours later I opened it without even suspecting its contents. It was hard for me to believe my eyes. That package contained twenty thousand rupees. It didn’t have a return address or any note, which made me think that it might be money owed to the government.

I don’t like people to send me something because they want to get rid of it. Giving is something different. It is sharing. (84)

 

103. Not so long ago a very wealthy Hindu lady came to see me. She sat down and told me, “I would like to share in your work” In India, more and more people like her are offering to help. I said, “That is fine.” The poor woman had a weakness that she confessed to me. “I love elegant saris.” Indeed, she had on a very expensive sari that probably cost around eight hundred rupees. Mine cost only eight rupees. Hers cost one hundred times more.

Then I asked the Virgin Mary to help me give an adequate answer to her question of how she could share in our work. It occurred to me to say to her, ”I would start with the saris. The next time you go to buy one, instead of paying eight hundred rupees, buy one that costs five hundred. Then with the extra three hundred rupees, buy saris for the poor.”

The good woman now wears 100-rupee saris, and that is because I have asked her not to buy cheaper ones. She has confessed to me that this has changed her life. She now knows what it means to share. That woman assures me that she has received more than what she has given. That is the way it is with our Co-workers. (84)

 

104. We need to bring prayer into our family life. Through prayer, we will be able to teach our children and relatives to share. We will get more through genuine prayer than with mere words. We should not use words alone to convince people to give us money. Prayer and our words of request must go together. We can’t do one without the other. They have to complement each other. (85)

 

105. We need money, medicines, clothing and a thousand other things for the poor we serve. If so many people weren’t generous, thousands would be left unaided. Because we still have many poor, needy children and families that live in the streets—--not only in Calcutta but in London, Rotterdam, Madrid, Marseilles, and Rome—--the need is great. In the last city I mentioned, we have many needy. The sisters go out at night into the streets, especially around the train station, between 10PM and 2 AM. to pick up the homeless and take them to the home we have on San Gregorio al Cielo.

The last time that I was in Rome, I found it unbearable to see so many homeless people living that way. So I went to see the mayor of Rome and said, “Give me a place for these people, because they refuse to come with us and would rather stay where they are.” He and his staff responded wonderfully. In a few days they offered us a very nice place near the Termini Train Station. At present, all those who have nowhere else to spend the night, except in the streets, go there and sleep in beds. In the morning they leave. (85)

 

106. I don’t want you to give me what you have left over. I want you to give from your want until you really feel it!

The other day I received fifteen dollars from a man who has been paralyzed for twenty years. The paralysis only allows him the use of his right hand. The only company he tolerates is tobacco. He told mc, “I have stopped smoking for a week. I’m sending you the money I’ve saved from cigarettes.” It must have been a horrible sacrifice for him.

But look at the beauty of his act of sharing. I bought bread with his money, and I gave it to those who were hungry. So both the giver and those who received experienced joy: the paralytic in giving and the poor in receiving.

This is something all of us need to learn. The chance to share our love with others is a gift from God. May it be for us just as it was for Jesus. Let’s love one another as he has loved us. Let’s love one another with undivided love. Let’s experience the joy of loving God and loving one another. (85)

 

107. Do we treat the poor as our dustbins to give whatever we cannot use or eat? I cannot eat this food so I will give it to the poor. I cannot use this thing or that piece of cloth so I will give it to the poor. Am I then sharing the poverty of the poor? Do I identify myself with the poor I serve? Am I one with them? Do I share with them as Jesus shared with me?

This is the wonderful part of our vocation, that as Missionaries of Charity we have created an awareness of the poor in the whole world. Twenty years ago no one would believe that there were hungry, naked men and women around. Today the whole world knows our poor because of our work. Because they know they want to share.

The other day a group of Hindu school children came from very far. They had won prizes in a contest at school and had asked the headmistress to give them money instead of the prizes. Then they said, “Now, take us to Mother Teresa. We want to give this money to her poor people.” How wonderful it was that they did not use that money for themselves! Because we have created this awareness the whole world wants to share with the poor.

Whenever I accept money or an award, I always take it in the name of the poor, whom they recognize in me. What am I? I am nothing. It is the poor whom they recognize in me and that they want to give to, because they see what we do. Today people in the world want to see. Why is our congregation spread all over the world today? It is because people see what we do: feeding the hungry Christ, clothing the naked Christ, taking care of the sick, the dying, the leprosy patients. Because they see, they believe. How sad it will be if we are not sincere in what we do. (86)

 

108. We who know Jesus, who love Jesus, who are even consecrated to Jesus, have to love as Jesus has loved. He has given us the Bread of Life so that we may love as he has loved us. He continues to say, ”As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you” (John 15:9). How has Jesus loved us? By giving himself to us. This is how we are to love each other: by giving ourselves to each other, giving ourselves to the point of feeling pain. (87)

         

          . . .it is in pardoning that we are pardoned. . .

 

109. We shall always keep in mind that our community is not composed of those who are already saints, but of those who are trying to become saints. Therefore we shall be extremely patient with each

other’s faults and failures. (87)

 

110. None of us has the right to condemn anyone. Even though we see some people doing something bad, we don’t know why they are doing it. Jesus invites us not to pass judgment. Maybe we are the ones who have helped make them what they are. We need to realize that they are our brothers and sisters. That leper, that drunkard, and that sick person is our brother because he too has been created for a greater love. This is something that we should never forget. Jesus Christ identifies himself with them and says, “Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” That leper, that alcoholic, and that beggar is my brother. Perhaps it is because we haven’t given them our understanding and love that they find themselves on the streets without love and care. (87)

 

111. It may happen that children repeatedly fail in their religious examination when being prepared for First Communion. Do not give in to discouragement. No more must you do so when you try to settle a marriage or convert a sinner and you do not 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. (87)

 

112. I have experienced many human weaknesses, many human frailties, and I still experience them. But we need to use them. We need to work for Christ with a humble heart, with the humility of Christ. He comes and use us to be his love and compassion in the world in spite of our weaknesses and frailties. (88)

 

. . .it is in dying that we are born to eternal lift.

 

113. Death is the most decisive moment in human life. It is like our coronation: to die in peace with God. I have never seen anyone die desperate or blaspheming. They all die serenely, almost with joy. (88)

 

114. One day I picked up a man from the gutter. His body was covered with worms.

I brought him to our house, and what did this man say?

He did not curse. He did not blame anyone. He just said, “I’ve lived like an animal in the street, but I’m going to die like an angel, loved and cared for!”    -

It took us three hours to clean him. Finally, the man looked up at the sister and said, “Sister, I’m going home to God.” And then he died.

I’ve never seen such a radiant smile on a human face as the one I saw on that man’s face. He went home to God.

See what love can do!

It is possible that young sister did not think about it at the moment, but she was touching the body of Christ. Jesus said so when he said, “As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it f me” (Mt 25:40).

And this is where you and I fit into God’s plan.

He has kindled his love in our hearts, so that we may love those we meet with his love. (88)

 

115. Very often we pick up sick and dying destitutes from the street of Calcutta. In twenty-five years we have picked up more than thirty-six thousand people from the streets and more than eighteen thousand have died a most beautiful death. When we pick them up from the street like that, we give them a plate of rice. In no time we revive them. A few nights ago we picked up four people. One was in a most terrible condition, covered with wounds, her body full of maggots. I told the sisters that I would take care of her while they attended to the other three. I really did all that my love could do for her. I put her in bed and then she took hold of my hand. She had such a beautiful smile on her face and she said only “Thank you.” Then she died. There was a greatness of love. She was hungry for love, and she received that love before she died. She spoke only two words, but her understanding love was expressed in those two words. I have never seen a smile like that. (89)

 

116. I am more than sure that all these people who have died with us are in heaven. They are genuine saints. They are already in the presence of God. Perhaps they were not loved on earth, but they are favorite children of God. Therefore I want to pray and to thank God for all the beautiful things that my sisters have done in the house of the dying. Even though that house is a part of the temple of Kali, the goddess of terror, what reigns there above all is the joy of helping the ill to die in peace with God. (89)

 

117. In New York we have a home for AIDS patients who are dying from what I call “the leprosy of the West.” On Christmas Eve, I opened this house as a gift to Jesus for his birthday. We started with fifteen beds for some poor AIDS patients and for four young men I brought out of jail because they didn’t want to die there. They were our first guests.

I had made a little chapel for them. There these young people, who had not been near Jesus, or used to praying or confession, could come back to him if they wanted to. Thanks to God’s blessing and his love, their hearts completely changed.

Once when I went there, one of them had to go to the hospital. He said to me, “Mother Teresa, you are my friend. I want to speak to you alone.” So the sisters went out, and he spoke.

And what did this man say? This was someone who hadn’t been to confession or received Holy Communion in twenty-five years. In all those years, he had had nothing to do with Jesus.

He told me, “You know, Mother Teresa, when I get a terrible headache, I compare it with the pain that Jesus had when they crowned him with thorns. When I get that terrible pain in my back, I compare it with Jesus when he was scourged. When I get that terrible pain inmy hands and feet, I compare it with the pain Jesus had when they crucified him. I ask you to take me back home. I want to die with you.”

I got permission from the doctor to take him back home with me. I took him to the chapel.

I have never seen anybody talk to God the way that young man talked to him. There was such an understanding love between Jesus and him. After three days, he died.

It is hard to understand the change that young man experienced. What brought it about? It was probably the tender love the sisters gave him that made him understand God loved him. (89)

 

118. As Christians, we have been created for great things. We have been created to be holy since we have been created in the image of God. For that reason, when someone dies that person is meant to go home to God. That is where we are all meant to go. Death can be something beautiful. It is like going home. He who dies in God goes home even though we naturally miss the person who has gone. But it is something beautiful. That person has gone home to God. (90)

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