Mother Teresa on Daily Reading compiled by Teresa de Bertodano
The following passages are taken from the book, “Daily Reading with Mother Teresa,” compiled by Teresa de Bertodano and published in 1993.
1. ONE WITH CHRIST
We need to pray to be able to be so one with Christ, one with God that nothing will separate us from the love of Christ, that oneness. For the fruit of prayer is the deepening of faith, and the fruit of faith is love, and the fruit of love is service. So to be a Co-Worker you must know how to pray. Not big prayers, but the prayer of the child, an open heart, a humble heart.
“Learn,” Jesus said, “Learn of me because I am meek and humble of heart.” He didn’t ask us to learn big things. He asked us to learn from Him to be meek and humble of heart. And it is so beautiful to think that He puts meekness first: meekness with one another, meekness that means love in action, that kindness, that thoughtfulness. And Jesus said, “By this they will know that you are my disciples.” By this meekness, by this kindness, people will know that you are a Co-Worker, that you are there to radiate joy, to radiate love and meekness. And then He says, humility, humility with God. The child of God.
And it is, I think, a privilege for us to have been chosen. He has called you by your name; each one of you has been called by your name. You belong to Him in a special way. You are precious to Him because He loves you. And He has put love into your hearts for you to be able to give that love to others. You must not be afraid to love, and to love until it hurts.
But love begins at home. You must make your home the centre of burning love. The sunshine of God’s love must be in your home first. You must be that hope of eternal happiness to your husband, to your wife, to your child, to your grandfather, grandmother, to whoever is connected with you. You are a worker in a big firm, you are a Co-Worker, but you don’t even know your people. You have to be the burning flame of God’s love to the people who are working with you, who are working for you. Can they look up and see the joy of loving in your face? Can they look up and see the joy of a clean heart? Can they look up and see Jesus in you? This is very important for a Co-Worker. And how do we reach to that if not by prayer? Maybe not big prayers, but ta1k from the heart to God. Open your heart to God.
Most of you have learned to pray from babyhood, you have learned to pray in your families. Teach. Today we have so many difficulties with the young people. And yet the young people are hungry for God. They’re hungry to give all to God. But they are misled. And it is you, as Co Workers, you must be that burning flame of love there. That’s the joy of loving God, the joy of loving God in your neighbour. That’s a true Co-Worker. I don’t believe in meetings, big meetings, big things like that. That’s not necessary for the Co-Worker. If the mother has to cook the food for her husband and children, that comes first. If you have to wash the napkins of the baby, that comes first. If the husband has to go to do some special work, that comes first. That comes first. Family comes first. The home of the Co-Worker must be another Nazareth. Love. Joy. Peace. Unity. Then you will be able to give to others.
From an address to Co-Workers (78-79)
2. DREAM BIG, ACT SMALL
Be caring, quick to notice and to respond to other’s needs. Maybe just carrying a bucket of water, maybe thoughtfullness at table.
Be a bridge-builder. Listen to and respect the opinion of others allowing them to have their full say.
Be generous but discreet in your actions, giving of your best. A quiet doer is better than a noisy complainer.
Be a peacemaker. Heal broken relationships. Smile five times a day at someone you do not really wish to smile at.
Be able to stand up for your own beliefs. Remain the same kind of person at home, school, church even if these beliefs make you unpopular.
Be conscious of social injustices but do not try to change the whole world at one go. Feed one hungry neighbour instead of lamenting on world hunger.
Be faithful to your daily commitments: studies, prayer, work. Maintain your promises to visit your sick neighbour.
Be willing to accept your weakness and failures with out anger and frustration. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on condition that you believe more in His love than in your own weakness.
Co-Workers’ Newsletter 1987 (91)
3. SUNSHINE IN COMMUNITY
Cheerfulness should be one of the main points of our religious life. A cheerful religious is like sunshine in a community. Cheerfulness is a sign of a generous person. It is often a cloak that hides a life of sacrifice. A person who has this gift of cheerfulness often reaches great heights of perfection. Let the sick and suffering find us real angels of comfort and consolation. Why has the work in the slums been blessed by God? Not on account of any personal qualities but on account of the joy the Sisters radiate. What we have — faith and the conviction that we are the beloved children of God — people in the world have not got, much less the people in the slums. The surest way to preach Christianity to the pagan is by our cheerfulness. What would our life be if the sisters were unhappy? Slavery and nothing else. We would do the work but we would attract nobody. This moodiness, heaviness, sadness, is a very easy way to tepidity, the mother of all evil.
If you are cheerful, have no fear of tepidity. Joy shines in the eyes, comes out in the speech and walk. You cannot keep it in for it bubbles out. When people see the habitual happiness in your eyes, it will make them realize they are the loved children of God. Every holy soul at times has great interior trials and darkness, but if we want others to realize that Jesus is there, we must be convinced of it ourselves. Just imagine a Sister going to the slums with a sad face and heavy step. What would her presence bring to these people? Only greater depression.
Joy is very infectious; therefore, be always full of joy when you go among the poor. That cheerfulness, according to St Bonaventure, has been given to man that he may rejoice in God in the hope of eternal good and at the sight of God’s benefits; that he may rejoice in his neighbour’s prosperity, take a delight in praising God and doing good works and feel disgust for all vain and useless things.
“It would be equally extraordinary,” says St Ignatius, “to see a religious who seeks nothing but God sad, as to see one who seeks everything but God happy.”
The Love of Christ pp. 104—5 (116-117)
4. I LOVE YOU
When the time comes and we cannot pray it is very simple:
if Jesus is in my heart let Him pray, let me allow Him to pray in me, to talk to His Father in the silence of my heart. If I cannot speak, He will speak; if I cannot pray, He will pray. That’s why we should often say, “Jesus in my heart, I believe in Your faithful love for me.” And often we should be in that unity with Him, and when we have nothing to give — let us give Him that nothingness. When we cannot pray — let us give that inability to Him. There is one thing that we can do: we can let Him pray in us to the Father. Let us ask Him to pray in us, for no one knows the Father better than He, no one can pray better than Jesus. And if my heart is pure, if in my heart Jesus is alive, if my heart is a tabernacle of the living God: Jesus and I are one. He prays in me, He thinks in me, He works with me and through me, He uses my tongue to speak, He uses my brains to think, He uses my hand to touch Him in the broken body.
Jesus wanted to pray with a clean heart, with a simple heart, with a humble heart. “Unless you become little children you cannot learn to pray, you cannot enter heaven, you cannot see God.” To become a little child you need to be one with the Father, to love the Father, to be at peace with the Father, our Father.
Co-Workers’ Newsletter 1982 (119)
5. SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL FOR GOD
This Jesus who is hungry for love and for bread, this Jesus who is deprived of food and of human dignity, this Jesus who lacks a home and understanding love–—this Jesus is present today everywhere in the world, even here in the United States. He is looking at you and me and asking, “Do you love me? Are you willing to wipe out this suffering, which is the suffering of thousands and thousands of human beings all over the world–—beings who lack not only bread but love and who want to be understood and acknowledged as our brothers and sisters, who are created by the same loving hand of God?”
In India, in Africa, and even in the United States, there can be people who are sunk in loneliness. There can be people like that in our own house, in our own family. Are we aware of that?
Especially today, when the world is so busy and people are always in a hurry, it seems we have no time to smile at each other, to devote a little time to others, to our neighbour. And thus loneliness grows every day. How much loneliness there is in the homes of shut-ins, those who can’t go out.
In order to do what they do, our Sisters need to know what poverty is. They need to know it as a way of life in order to know and love the poor.
That is why the Sisters have their religious vows. They commit themselves fully to Jesus, in order to love Him with an undivided love in chastity, through the freedom of their poverty, in full submission through obedience, and in an absolutely voluntary and gratuitous service to the poorest of the poor–—that is to say, to Christ in His most humble appearance.
Our lives have to continuously feed on the Eucharist. If we were not able to see Christ under the appearance of bread, neither would it be possible for us to discover Him under the humble appearances of the bruised bodies of the poor.
God’s work needs both you and me. Let us carry out this work together. Let us all together do something beautiful for God. What you can do we cannot do, and what we are doing you cannot accomplish. Together we will be able to accomplish and fulfill something beautiful for God through our full commitment and through our loving trust and joy in service to God through service to the poorest poor.
From an address in Washington, October 1975 (137-138)
6. JUDGE NOT
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 judgement. 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, 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, 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.
I believe that we should realize that poverty doesn’t only consist in being hungry for bread, but rather it is a tremendous hunger for human dignity. We need to love and to be somebody for someone else. This is where we make our mistake and shove people aside. Not only have we denied the poor a piece of bread, but by thinking that they have no worth and leaving them abandoned in the streets, we have denied them the human dignity that is rightfully theirs as children of God. They are my brothers and sisters as long as they are there. And why am I not in their place? This should be a very important question. We could have been in their place without having received the love and affection that has been given to us. I will never forget an alcoholic who told me his story. He was a man who gave in to drinking so he could forget that he wasn’t loved. I think we should examine our own consciences before judging the poor, be they poor in spirit or poor in material goods.
One Heart Full of Love pp. 130—1 (138-139)