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Mother Teresa on Prayer of Our Father

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

 

All Christians know the Lord’s Prayer. It is the prayer Jesus gave his disciples when they came to him with a request: “Lord, teach us to pray.”

The basic prayer is found in the Gospel of Matthew (69.13). A shorter form is found in the Gospel of Luke (11:2-4). Today, in spite of various attempts to modernize the language, most English-speaking people say the prayer as it is written on the following page, in the melodious words of the seventeenth century.

Some Christians say “debts” and “debtors” while others say “trespasses” and “those who trespass against us.” The importance of forgiveness is clear either way.

The doxology, at the end, is not found in the Bible and is technically not a part of the prayer, though it is often added to it. Different Christians say it differently. A version often set to music is as follows: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” Other versions end with “forever and ever.” The doxology used here, from the Catholic liturgy, is the one most familiar to Mother Teresa.

All forms of the Lord’s Prayer, of course, have the same meaning. It is the one prayer that unites Christians the world around and focuses their hearts on their loving heavenly Father whose kingdom is based on forgiveness of sin, provision of bread, and deliverance from evil.

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses

as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,

now and forever. Amen

 

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name...

 

1. The apostles asked Jesus to teach them to pray, and he taught them the beautiful prayer, the “Our Father.” I believe each time we say the “Our Father,” God looks at his hands, where he has carved us—--”I have carved you on the palm of my hand”—--he looks at his hands, and he sees us there. How wonderful the tenderness and love of the great God! (154)

 

2. Prayer, to be fruitful, must come from the heart and must be able to touch the heart of God. See how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Call God your Father; praise and glorify his name. Do his will as the saints do it in heaven; ask for daily bread, spiritual and temporal; ask for forgiveness of your own sins and that you may forgive others, and also for the grace not to give in to temptations and for the final grace to be delivered from the evil that is in us and around us. (154)

 

3. Where can I learn to pray? Jesus taught us: “Pray like this: Our Father.., thy will be done... forgive us as we forgive.” It is so simple yet so beautiful. If we pray the “Our Father,” and live it, we will be holy. Everything is there: God, myself; my neighbor. If I forgive, then I can be holy and can pray. All this comes from a humble heart, and if we have this we will know how to love God, to love self, and love our neighbor.

This is not complicated, and yet we complicate our lives so much, by so many additions. Just one thing counts: to be humble, to pray. The more you pray, the better you will pray.

How do you pray? You should go to God like a little child. A child has no difficulty expressing his little mind in simple words which say so much. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Become as a little child” If we pray the gospel, we will allow Christ to grow in us. (154)

 

4. Christ’s teaching is so simple that even a very young child can babble it. The apostles asked, “Teach us to pray.” Jesus answered, “When you pray, say ‘Our Father...’” (Luke 11:1-4). (155)

 

5. We must be aware of our oneness with Christ, as he was aware of oneness with his Father. Our work is truly apostolic only in so far as we permit him to work in us and through us, with his power, with his desire, and with his love. (155)

 

6. St Clement related having heard from St Peter that our Lord was accustomed to watch like a mother with her children, near his disciples during their sleep to render them any little service. (155)

 

7. Total surrender involves loving trust. You cannot surrender totally unless you trust lovingly and totally. Jesus trusted his Father because he knew him, he knew of his love. “My Father and I are one.” “The Father is in me and I am in the Father.” “I am not alone, the Father is with me.” “Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.” Read St John’s Gospel and see how many times Jesus used the word “Father.” Jesus came to reveal the Father. In the time of the Old Testament God was known as the God of fear, punishment, and anger. The coming of Jesus reverses this picture completely. God in the New Testament is the God of love, compassion, and mercy. That is why we can trust him fully—--there is no more fear. This loving trust implies that we know the love of God and that we proclaim this love, compassion, and mercy everywhere we are sent. Today we reveal him. (155)

 

6. Loving trust means for our contemplative life:

an absolute, unconditional, and unwavering confidence in God our loving Father, even when everything seems to be a total failure;

— to look to him alone as our help and protector;

- to stop doubting and being discouraged, casting all our worries and cares on the Lord, and walking in total freedom;

— to be daring and absolutely fearless of any obstacle, knowing that nothing is impossible with God;

— total reliance on our Heavenly Father with a spontaneous abandonment of the little children, totally convinced of our utter nothingness but trusting to the point of rashness with courageous confidence in his fatherly goodness. (156)

 

7. Every Missionary of Charity will pray with absolute trust in God’s loving care for us. Our prayer will be the prayer of little children, one of tender devotion, deep reverence, humility, serenity, and simplicity.(156)

 

8. We put our hands, our eyes, and our hearts at Christ’s disposal, so that he will act through us. (156)    

 

9. Our particular mission is to labor at the salvation and sanctification of the poorest of the poor not only in the slums but all over the world, wherever they may be, by:

—living the love of God in prayer and action in a life marked by the simplicity and humility of the gospel;

— loving Jesus under the appearance of bread;

       serving him in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, both materially and spiritually, recognizing in them and restoring to them the image and likeness of God.

As members of the active branch by:

— nursing the sick and the dying desitutes;

— gathering and teaching little street children;

— visiting and caring for beggars, leprosy patients, and their children;

— giving shelter to the abandoned and homeless;

- caring for the unwanted, the unloved, and the lonely;

— going out to the spiritually poorest of the poor to proclaim the Word of God by our presence and spiritual works of mercy;

— adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. (156)

 

10. We cannot take charge of works that would divert us from the slums, from the neighborhoods of misery. That is the kingdom of Christ and ours—--our working field. If a son abandons the field of his father and goes to work in another field, he ceases to be a co-worker of his father. Those who share everything are partners who give love for love, suffering for suffering. Jesus has given us everything--—his life, his blood, everything. Now it is our turn. We cannot desert his field. (157)

 

11. If we really want to conquer the world, we will not be able to do it with bombs or with other weapons of destruction. Let us conquer the world with our love. Let us interweave our lives with bonds of sacrifice and love, and it will be possible for us to conquer the world. (157)

 

12. In the slums the sisters should find a place where they will gather little street children, whoever they may be. Their very first concern is to make them clean, feed them and only then teach them, and prepare them for admission into regular schools. The love of God must be proposed to them in a simple, interesting, and attractive way.

The sisters shall visit the destitute and the sick, going from house to house or wherever these may be found, and they must render to all the humblest services. They shall also visit the jails. (157)

 

13. We shall:

— call sinners to repentance;

— instruct the ignorant;

— counsel the doubtful;

— sustain the tempted;

— befriend the friendless and comfort the sick and sorrowful;

— bear wrongs patiently: trusting in God for deliverance in his own good time;

— forgive injuries;

— bring prayer into the lives of the spiritually poorest of the poor. (158)

 

14. It is you, sisters, who can fill the world with the love that God has given you. The work of moral rearmament is carried out with discretion and love. The more discrete, the more penetrating it will be. You give it to others, and it is they who absorb it. (158)

 

15. Is it not our mission to give God to the poor of the street? Not a dead God but a living God, a God of love. (158)

 

16. What is the Good News? The Good News is that God still loves the world through each one of you. You are God’s Good News, you are God’s love in action. Through you, God is still loving the world. (158)

 

17. We ought every day to renew our resolution and to rouse ourselves to fervor, as if it were the first day of our conversion, saying, “Help me, Lord God, in my good resolve and in thy holy service, and give me grace this very day really and truly to begin, for what I have done till now is nothing.” This is the spirit in which we should begin our monthly recollection day. (158)

 

18. We shall make this year one of peace in a particular way. To be able to do this we shall try to talk more to God and with God and less with men and to men. Let us preach the peace of Christ as he did. He went about doing good; he did not stop his works of charity because the Pharisees and others hated him or tried to spoil his Father’s work. He just went about doing good. (158)

 

19. Our lives, to be fruitful, must be full of Christ; to be able to bring his peace, joy, and love we must have it ourselves, for we cannot give what we have not got—--the blind leading the blind. The poor in the slums are without Jesus and we have the privilege of entering their homes. What they think of us does not matter, but what we are to them do matter. To go to the slums merely for the sake of going will not be enough to draw them to Jesus. If you are preoccupied with yourself and your own affairs, you will not be able to live up to this ideal. (159)

 

20. Zeal for souls is the effect and the proof of true love of God. We cannot but be consumed with the desire for saving souls, the greatest and dearest interest of Jesus. Therefore, zeal is the test of love and the test of zeal is devotedness to his cause—--spending life and energy in the work of souls. (159)

 

21. In the Spirit, both of our congregations are carriers of God’s love. We the sisters carry God’s love in action, you brothers of the Word carry God’s love in evangelization, but we are all carriers, we all are missionaries. The mission of proclaiming Christ, through action or through words, is one mission, the mission of love and compassion. For the sake of making things simpler we have different names, but this is just for external reasons. Actually it is the same thing we all work for the proclamation of God’s kingdom. (159)

 

22. We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with him right now, to be happy with him this moment. But being happy with him now means loving as he loves, helping as he helps, giving as he gives, serving as he serves, rescuing as he rescues—--and being with him twenty-four hours a day. (159)

 

23. An Indian physician, as he saw the care a sister devoted to a sick man who had been declared hopeless by his colleagues, said, “I came here without God. I’m now going back with God.” (159)

 

24. The sisters do small things—--helping children, visiting those who are isolated, the sick, those who lack everything.

In one of the houses the sisters visit they found a woman who had died alone a few days earlier. Her body had already begun decomposing. The neighbors didn’t even know her name.

When someone tells me that what the sisters do is irrelevant, that they limit themselves to things that are little less than ordinary, I reply that even if they helped only one person, that would be reason enough for their work. Jesus would have died for one person, for one sinner. (160)

 

. . .thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

 

25. Today, more than ever, we need to pray for the light to know the will of God, for the love to accept the will of God, for the way to do the will of God. (160)

 

26. It is not possible to engage in the direct apostolate without being a soul of prayer, without a conscious awareness and submission to the divine will. (160)

 

27. In his passion our Lord says, “Thy will be done. Do with me what you want.” And that was the hardest thing for our Lord even at the last moment. They say that the passion in Gethsemane was much greater than even the crucifixion. Because it was his heart, his soul that was being crucified, while on the cross it was his body that was crucified. That’s why on the cross he never said, “Thy will be done.” He accepted in silence, and he gave his mother, and he said, “I thirst” and “It is finished.” But not once did he say “Thy will be done,” because he had already totally accepted during that terrible struggle of the isolation and the loneliness. And the only way that we know that it was so difficult for him that hour is that he asked, “Why could you not spend one hour with me?”—--we know he needed consolation. This is total surrender: not to be loved by anybody, not to be wanted by anybody, just to be a nobody because we have given all to Christ. (160)

 

28. “I will be a saint” means I will despoil myself of all that is not God. I will strip my heart and empty it all created things; I will live in poverty and detachment. I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, and make myself a willing slave to the will of God. Yes, my children, this is what I pray for daily—--for each one—--that we each may become a slave to the will of God. (161)

 

29. We must become holy not because we want to feel holy, but Christ must be able to live his life fully in us. We are to be all love, all faith, all purity for the sake of the poor we serve. Once we have learned to seek first God and his will, our contacts with the poor will become the means of great sanctity to ourselves and to others. Holiness is union with God; so in prayer and action alike we come from God in Christ and go to God through Christ. (161)

 

30. The perfect will of God for us: you must be holy. Holiness is the greatest gift that God can give us because for that reason he created us. (161)

 

31. Jesus is going to do great things with you if you let him do it and if you don’t try to interfere with him. We interfere with God’s plans when we push in someone or something else not suitable for us. Be very strict with yourself, and then be very strict with what you are receiving from outside. People may come with wonderful ideas, with beautiful things, but anything that takes you away from the reality of what you have given to God must remain outside. (161)

 

32. The suffering of the Church is caused by a misunderstanding of freedom and renewal. We cannot be free unless we are able to renounce our own will for Christ’s. We cannot be renewed without the humility to recognize what needs to be renewed in ourselves. Distrust those who come to you with dazzling words about freedom and renewal: they are deceivers. (161)

 

33. This doing of the will of God is obedience. Jesus came to do the will of his Father and did it unto death, death on the cross. “Be it done to me according to your word,” was Our Lady’s answer for you and for me when we have been chosen to be his own by becoming Missionaries of Charity. The surest way to true holiness and the fulfillment of our mission of peace, love, and joy is through obedience. (161)

 

34. We must have a real, living resolution to reach holiness. St. Teresa says that Satan is terribly afraid of resolute souls. Everything depends on these two or three words: “I will” or “I will not.” I must put all my energy into this “will.” St John Berchmans, St. Stanislaus, and St. Margaret Mary said “I will,” and they did become saints.

What is a saint but simply a resolute soul, a soul that uses power plus action? Wasn’t this what St. Paul meant when he said: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me?” My sisters, I will not be satisfied if you are just good religious. I want to be able to offer God a perfect sacrifice. Only holiness perfects the gift. (161)

 

Give us this day our daily bread. . .

 

35. Our lives have to be more and more penetrated by a deep faith in Jesus, the Bread of Life, which must be eaten with and for the poor. (161)

 

36. Where will you get the joy of loving?—--in the Eucharist, Holy Communion. Jesus has made himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, he is there. (161)

 

37. To make it easy for you and for me to see Jesus, he made himself the Bread of Life, so that we can receive life, so that we may have a life of peace, a life of joy. Find Jesus, and you will find peace. (161)

 

38. People are hungry for God. People are hungry for love. Are you aware of that? Do you know that? Do you see that? Do you have eyes to see? Quite often we look but we don’t see. We are all passing through this world. We need to open our eyes and see. (161)

 

39. When I pick up a hungry person from the streets, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, and I have satisfied that hunger, but a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out of society—--how much more difficult it is to remove that hunger. (163)

 

40. A few weeks ago, I picked up a child from the street, and from the face I could see that little child was hungry. I didn’t know how many days that little one had not eaten. So I gave her a piece of bread, and the little one took the bread and, crumb by crumb, started eating it. I said to her, “Eat, eat the bread. You are hungry” And the little one looked at me and said, “I am afraid. When the bread will be finished, I will be hungry again.” (163)

 

41. We cook for nine thousand people every day. One day one sister came and said, “Mother, there’s nothing to eat, nothing to give to the people.” I had no answer. And then by nine o’clock that morning a truck full of bread came to our house. The government gives a slice of bread and milk each day to the poor children. That day—--no one in the city knew why—--but suddenly all the schools were closed. And all the bread came to Mother Teresa. See, God closed the schools. He would not let our people go without food. And this was the first time, I think, in their lives that they had had such good bread and so much. This way you can see the tenderness of God. (163)

 

42. When communicating with Christ in your heart after partaking of the living Bread, remember what Our Lady must have felt when the Holy Spirit overpowered her, and she who was full of grace became full with the body of Christ. The spirit in her was so strong that immediately she “rose in haste” to go and serve. (163)

 

43. Jesus has made himself the Bread of Life to satisfy my hunger for him, and he has also made himself the hungry one so that I may satisfy his love for me. He is hungry for us as we are hungry for him. Universal Brothers of the Word, find out that the Word has to become flesh first in your life, coming among you in love, in unity, in peace, in joy, and then you will be able to give it to the spiritually poorest, to give it to that man sitting in the park, drunk and all by himself. (163)

 

44. The world today is hungry not only for bread but hungry for love, hungry to be wanted, to be loved. They’re hungry to feel that presence of Christ. In many countries, people have everything except that presence, that understanding. That’s why the life of prayer and sacrifice comes to give that love. By being contemplative, you are to be that presence, that bread of God to break. (164)

 

45. Let us now pray thus:

Lord, make us worthy to serve our brothers,

men of all the world,

who live and die in poverty and hunger.

Give them this day, through our hands, their daily bread.

And through our love and understanding,

 give them peace and joy. Amen. (164)

 

 

46. Even if this year we should collect less money, much less, the important thing is that we continue to spread Christ’s love. If we give Christ to him who is hungry—--not only for bread but also for our love, for our presence, for our contact—--then this year could well be the year of the real live explosion of the love that God brings to our earth. (164)

 

47. Jesus gives me the opportunity to feed him by feeding those who are hungry, to clothe him by clothing those who are naked, to heal him by caring for those who are sick, and to offer him shelter by housing those who are homeless and unwanted. (164)

 

48. To be able to do something beautiful for God, we need Jesus. Jesus became the Bread of life so that you and I, and even a small child, can receive him and have life. In a special way we need the Bread of life to know the poor, to love them, and serve them. Each one of us needs to encounter Jesus. Without him, we can do nothing. We need the Bread of Life to live. Jesus said very clearly, “If you to not eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have eternal life.” (164)

 

49. The Gospels remind us that Jesus, before he taught the people, felt compassion the multitudes that followed after him. Sometimes he felt it even to the point of forgetting to eat. How did he put his compassion into practice? He multiplied the loaves of bread and the fish to satisfy their hunger. He gave them food to eat until they couldn’t ear any more, and twelve basketsful were left over. Then he taught them. Only then did he tell them the Good News. This is what we must often do in our work: we must first satisfy the needs of the body, so we can then bring Christ to the poor. (165)

 

50. When Jesus came into the world, he loved it so much that he gave his life for it. He wanted to satisfy our hunger for God. And what did he do? He made himself the Bread of life. He became small, fragile, and defenseless us. Bits of bread can be so small that even a baby can chew it, even a dying person can eat it. He became the Bread of Life to satisfy our hunger for God, our hunger for love. (165)

 

51. Jesus, being rich, became poor for you and for me. I don’t think we could have ever loved God if Jesus had never become one of us. So that we might be able to love God, he himself became one of us in all things, except sin.

It was not enough for him to become poor like us. He made himself the Bread of Life. And he said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you cannot live, you cannot have eternal life” (see John 6:53-54).

If we have been created in the image of God, then we have been created to love, because God is love. We have been created for great things. (165)

 

52. By daily feeding on the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament, we shall grow in a deeper and more personal knowledge and love of Jesus Christ and his teachings, so as to be able to feed his children with his divine Word. We shall be painstaking and diligent in studying and memorizing selected passages, daily reading and meditating on the Scriptures—--to be able to know and love God personally. (165)

 

53. Lord, make us worthy to serve men, our brothers, who are dispersed all over the world, who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give to all of them, through our hands, their daily bread, and through our understanding love give them peace and joy. (166)

 

54. We have to feed ourselves. We can die from spiritual starvation. (166)

       

       . . and forgive us our trespasses. . .

 

55. It is much easier to conquer a country than to conquer ourselves. Every act of disobedience weakens my spiritual life. It is like a wound letting out every drop of one’s blood. Nothing can cause this havoc in our spiritual life as quickly as disobedience. (166)

 

56. Just as the rigorous winter prepares the way for spring, penance prepares us for the sanctity of God, filling us with his vision and love. It makes us more and more sinless and attunes us to the work of the Spirit within us, bringing our whole being under the powerful influence of Jesus. It plunges us into the deep contemplation of God. (166)

 

57. One thing is necessary for us—--confession. Confession is nothing but humility in action. We used to call it penance, but really it is a sacrament of love, a sacrament of forgiveness. That is why confession should not be a place in which to talk for long hours about our difficulties. It is a place where I allow Jesus to take away from me everything that divides, that destroys. When there is a gap between me and Christ, when my love is divided, anything can come to fill the gap. We should be very simple and childlike in confession. “Here I am as a child going to her Father.” If a child is not yet spoiled and has not learned to tell lies, he will tell everything. This is what I mean by being childlike. Confession is a beautiful act of great love. Only in confession can we go as sinners with sin and come out as sinners without sin. (166)

 

58. Confession makes the soul strong because a really good confession--—the confession of a child in sin coming back to her Father--— always begets humility, and humility is strength. We may go to confession as often as we want and to whom we want, but we are not encouraged to seek spiritual direction from any and every source. The confessional is not a place for useless conversation or gossip. The topic should be my sins, my sorrow, my forgiveness: how to overcome my temptations, how to practice virtue, how to increase in the love of God. (167)

 

59. First, confession; after it ask for spiritual direction if necessary. The reality of my sins must come first. For most of us there is the danger of forgetting that we are sinners and must go to confession as sinners. We must want the Precious Blood to wash away our sins. We must go to God to tell him we are sorry for all we have done which may have hurt him. (167)

 

60. We come from confession a sinner without sin by the greatness of the mercy of God. No need for us to despair. No need for us to commit suicide. No need for us to be discouraged—--no need, if we have understood the tenderness of God’s love. You are precious to him. He loves you, and he loves you so tenderly that he has carved you on the palm of his hand. These are God’s words written in the Scripture. You know that. Remember that when your heart feels restless, when your heart feels hurt, when your heart feels like breaking—--then remember, “I am precious to him. He loves me. He has called me by my name. I am his. He loves me. God loves me.” And to prove that love he died on the cross. (167)

 

61. During Lent we shall in a special way and with deep feeling meditate on the passion of our Lord and examine our conscience on what sin of ours caused that special pain to Jesus. I will make reparation and share that pain by doubling my penance. I shall keep strict custody of my eyes; I shall keep clean thoughts in my mind; I shall touch the sick with greater gentleness and compassion; I shall keep the silence of the heart with greater care, so that in the silence of my heart I hear his words of comfort and from the fullness of my heart I comfort Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poor. I shall confess especially my neglect of penance. (167)

 

62. Penance is absolutely necessary for us. Nothing is of greater force in restraining the disordered passions of the soul and in subjecting the natural appetites to right reason. Then we shall possess those heavenly joys and delights that surpass the pleasure of earth as much as the soul does the body, and heaven the earth. (168)

 

63. Let us often say during the day, “Wash away my sins cleanse me from all my iniquity.” How it must hurt Jesus dwelling in our heart to feel in our hearts this bitterness, this hurt, this revengeful feeling made of jealousy and pride! My children let us be sincere and ask to be forgiven. (168)

 

64. We shall spend two hours a day at sunrise and sunset in adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Our hours of adoration will be special hours of reparation for sins and intercession for the needs of the whole world, exposing the sin-sick and suffering humanity to the healing, sustaining, and transforming rays of Jesus, radiating from the Eucharist. (168)

 

65. Our penance is an act of perfect love of God, man, and the whole universe. It seeks to reconcile man with God, man with man, and man with God’s creation, bringing about the unity in Jesus, with Jesus, and through Jesus of all that was disrupted by sin. It is for us a joyful identification with Christ crucified; it is a hunger to be lost it him, so that nothing remains of us but he alone in his radiant glory drawing all men to the Father. “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). (168)

 

66. The other day, a man, a journalist, asked me a strange question He asked me, “Even you, do you have to go to confession?”

I said, “Yes, I go to confession every week.”

And he said, “Then God must be very demanding if you all have to go to confession.”

And I said, “Your own child sometimes does something wrong. What happens when your child comes to you and says, ‘Daddy, I’m sorry’? What do you do? You put both of your arms around your child and kiss him. Why? Because that’s your way of telling him that you love him. God does the same thing. He loves you tenderly.

Even when we sin or make a mistake, let’s allow that to help us grow closer to God. Let’s tell him humbly, “I know I shouldn’t have done this, but even this failure I offer to you.” (168)

 

67. If we have sinned or made a mistake, let us go to him and say, “I’m sorry! I repent” God is a forgiving Father His mercy is greater than our sins. He will forgive us. This is humility: to have the courage to accept such humiliation and receive God’s forgiveness. (169)

 

. .as we forgive those who trespass against us...

 

68. Is my love for the other members of the community so great, so real as to forgive, not out of duty but out of love? (169)

 

69.We often pray, “Let me share with you your pain; I want to be the spouse of Jesus crucified,” and yet when a little spittle of an uncharitable remark or a thorn of thoughtlessness is given to us, how we forget that this is the time to share with him his shame and pain. (169)

 

70. One day I found among the debris a woman who was burning with fever. About to die, she kept repeating. “It is my son who has done it!” I took her in my arms and carried her home to the convent. On the way I urged her to forgive her son. It took a good while before I could hear her say, “Yes, I forgive him.” She said it with a feeling of genuine forgiveness, just as she was about to pass away

The woman was not aware that she was dying, that she was burning with fever, that she was suffering. What was breaking her heart was her own son’s lack of love. (169)

 

71. In his passion Jesus taught us how to forgive out of love, how to forget out of humility. So let us at the beginning of the passion of Christ examine our hearts fully and see if there is any unforgiven hurt or unforgotten bitterness. (170)

 

72. Q. Is it necessary to be a Christian in order to forgive?

MT: No, it is not absolutely necessary. Every human being comes from the hand of God, and we all know something of God’s love for us. Whatever our religion, we know that if we really want to love, we must learn to forgive before anything else. (170)

 

73. Let us think about oppressed countries. The greatest need of Bangladesh is forgiveness—--there is so much bitterness and hatred! It is impossible to imagine how those people suffer. If they realize that we care for them, that we love them, perhaps they will find strength in their hearts to forgive. I think this is the only thing that can bring them peace. (170)

 

74. Reconciliation begins with ourselves. It begins with a pure heart, a heart that is able to see God in others. (170)

 

75. The tongue, that part of the body that makes such direct contact with the body of Christ, can become an instrument of joy or of suffering. Do not go to bed when you know that your sister has something against you. (170)

 

76. Some young people who ran away from home have gotten sick with AIDS. We have opened a home in New York for AIDS patients, who find themselves among the most unwanted people of today.

What a tremendous change has been brought about in their lives just because of a few sisters who take care of them, and have made a home for them!

A home of love!

A gift of love!

A place, perhaps the only place, where they feel loved, where they are somebody to someone. This has changed their lives in such a way that they die a most beautiful death. Not one of them has yet died in distress.

The other day, a sister called to tell me that one of the young men (all are young people) was dying. But, strange to say, he couldn’t die.

So she asked him, “What is it?” (He was struggling with death!) “What is wrong?”

And he said, “Sister, I cannot die until I ask my father to forgive me.”

So the sister found out where the father was and she called him. And something extraordinary happened, like a living page from the Gospel: The father embraced his son and cried, “My son! My beloved son!”

And the son begged the Father, “Forgive me! Forgive me!”

And the two of them clung to each other tenderly.

Two hours later the young man died. (170)

 

77. Christians need to learn to forgive. We have to be forgiven to be able to forgive. I believe that if the people in Belfast--—just like elsewhere in Bangladesh, Amman, New York, and other places--— would forgive each other, world peace would come. (171)

 

78. Q: How does one learn to forgive?

MT: By knowing that we too need to be forgiven.

Q: Could you verify the need for forgiveness in Belfast?

MT: I have seen this in several families that I have visited where someone was murdered or someone died violently. There is no prejudice in these families. I have seen that these families have forgiven and don’t hold any grudges against the ones who killed their sons. I think that is a first step. (171)

 

79. When we realize that we are sinners needing forgiveness, it will be very easy for us to forgive others. If I do not understand this, it will be very hard for me to say “I forgive you” to anyone who comes to me. (171)

 

. . .and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

 

80. Let us ask our Lord to be with us in our moments of temptation. Just as Jesus was tempted, the devil will also tempt us. We must not be afraid, because God loves us and will not fail to help us. (172)

 

81. We must be convinced that nothing adorns a human soul with greater splendor than the virtue of chastity and nothing defiles a human soul more than the opposite vice. Yet there must be no mistake that the glory of chastity is not in immunity from temptation but in victory over these temptations. (172)

 

82. When we recollect that in the morning we have held within our hands an all-holy God, we are more ready to abstain from whatever could soil their purity. Hence deep reverence for our own person; reverence for others, treating all with accepted marks of courtesy, but abstaining from sentimental feelings or ill-ordered affections. (172)

 

83. If we love God with our whole soul, if we have a love of Jesus Christ above all things, if we have a tender love for Our Lady, we shall be less inclined to be unduly attached to creatures. In order that the love for Jesus may produce these effects, it must be intense, generous, and all-absorbing. It will so fill the mind and heart that we no longer give a thought to human affections. Should we unfortunately become entangled in any ill-ordered affections, Jesus who cannot suffer strange gods in our hearts will reproach us severely. He will himself protect with jealous care the hearts of those who give themselves to him. (172)

 

84. By yourselves you can get nothing but weakness, misery and sin. All the gifts you have come from God. Do not allow temptations to weaken the strength of your vocation. (172)

 

85. Self-knowledge puts us on our knees, and it is very necessary for love. For knowledge of God produces love, and knowledge of self produces humility. Self is a very important thing in our lives. As St. Augustine says, “Fill yourselves first, and then only will be able to give to others.” Self-knowledge is also a safeguard against pride, especially when one is tempted later in life. The greater mistake is to think one is too strong to fall into temptation. Put your finger in the fire and it will burn. Don’t play with temptation. (172)

 

86. In my heart there is only one vacant seat. It is for God and nobody else. Temptation is like fire in which gold is purified. So we have to go through this fire. The temptations are allowed by God. The only thing we have to do is to refuse to give in. If I say I do not want it, I am safe. There may be temptations against purity, against faith, against my vocation. If we love our vocation, we will be tempted. But then we will also grow in sanctity. We have to fight temptation for the love of God. (173)

 

87. Don’t allow anything to interfere with your love for Jesus. You belong to him. Nothing can separate you from him. That one sentence is important to remember. He will be your joy, your strength. If you hold onto that sentence, temptations and difficulties will come, but nothing will break you. (173)

 

88. If we really want to know whether something is a temptation, let us examine our obedience. It is the best light in time of temptation, and we will know exactly where we are and what we are doing. It is the best light in that terrible darkness. Even for Jesus, the devil wanted to find out who he was. He was not sure. The devil will stoop to anything to find out where our weak point is. He will do all to get us to accept that one wrong thought, to say that one unkind word, to do that one impure act, that one act of disobedience, that one instance of giving something away without permission, that one neglect of prayer—--just that one thing. If there is an award to be given for patience it should be given to the devil. He has a lot of patience. (173)

 

89. Joy is one of the best safeguards against temptation. The devil is a carrier of dust and dirt; he uses every chance to throw what he has at us. A joyful heart knows how to protect herself from such dirt. Jesus can take full possession of our soul only if it surrenders itself joyfully. “A saint who is sad is a sad saint,” St. Francis de Sales used to say. St. Thérese was worried about her sisters only when she saw any of them lose their joy. (173)

 

90. Don’t be afraid. There must be the cross, there must be suffering--—a clear sign that Jesus has drawn you so close to his heart that he can share his suffering with you. (174)

 

91. Without God we can spread only pain and suffering around us. (174)

 

92. The Lord has willed me here where I am. He will offer a solution. (174)

 

93. One cannot hide the fact that active life is full of risks because of the numerous opportunities that it offers for sin. But we can be confident of God’s special protection in every action we carry out under the sign of obedience. Doubting when obedience calls you to action is something that deserves the reproach of Jesus to Peter: “How little faith you have!... Why did you falter?” (Mt 14:31). (174)

 

94. “Blessed are those who suffer persecution”: We do not suffer much persecution, except the persecution caused by the devil against chastity, poverty, obedience, and wholehearted free service. To resist this persecution we need continual refilling of prayer and sacrifice—--of the Bread of Life, of the Living Water, of my sisters in community, and of the poor. We need Our Lady, our mother, to be with us always, to protect us and keep us only for Jesus. (174)

 

95. Suffering will never be completely absent from our lives. Through it, we are given the chance to share the joy of loving Jesus in his passion-—it is beautiful to think of that! So don’t be afraid of suffering. Your suffering, too, is a great means of love, if you make use of it, especially if you offer it for peace in the world. (174)

            . . .For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,

now and forever.

 

96. “I kept the Lord ever before my eyes, because he is ever at my right hand, that I may not slip” (Psalm 25:15), says the Psalmist. God is within me with a more intimate presence than that whereby I am in myself “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:29) It is he who gives life to all, who gives power and being to all that exists. But for his sustaining presence, all things would cease to be and fall back into nothingness. Consider that you are in God, surrounded and encompassed by God, swimming in God. (175)

 

97. With God, nothing is impossible. Our sisters are living proof of that. When I watch them, I receive the infinite greatness of God, a greatness that we can tap into. I see how he can work through us. Because you and I have nothing on our own, we need him. As the Bible says, God waits and looks. Will we respond?

Just consider what God has accomplished through the sisters and the Co-workers scattered throughout the world. We must ponder it in order to admire the greatness of God shown among us. This is not pride. It takes humility to recognize the greatness of God shining through us. Boasting of our greatness before men is pride. Great humility arises when we recognize that it is God’s kindness and his greatness that shows through our hands, our work, and our love because that is the simple truth.

Jesus is the truth that must be shared. All those who have witnessed our work, have been able to see that God is the source. Just as Jesus said, “Likewise, when men see your good deeds, they will give praise to your Father who is in heaven” (see Matthew 5:16). (175)

 

09. Pray for us, that we do not spoil the work of God, that this may always be the work of God. Pray for our poor, the old, the unwanted children, the sick, the lepers, for those who suffer from AIDS, for all those we can serve as a gift from God. Let us ask our Lord to grant us the grace to serve our brothers and sisters throughout the world who live and die in poverty and misery. (175)

 

Lord, give them, today, through our hand their daily bread! Grant that, through our understanding love we may bring them peace and joy. Le us never forget that what we do with love always brings peace.

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