Mother Teresa on God is Love from Brian Kolodiejchuk
All the passages below are taken from Brian Kolodiejchuk’s book “Mother Teresa—Where there is Love, There is God” published in 2010. This book is in some ways a sequel to “Mother Teresa—Come Be My Light,” published in 2007.
In reply to the question “What or who is God?” Mother Teresa on one occasion said, “God is love and He loves you and we are precious to Him. He called us by our name. We belong to Him. He has created us in His image for greater things. God is love, God is joy, God is light, God is truth.” This statement encapsulates her belief in God and her experience of Him: God exists and is the Source of all that exists; His very being is love; He has created us in his likeness with spiritual powers of intellect and free will, with the ability to know and to love; He is a Father who loves each of us uniquely, personally, and He ardently desires our happiness. No hardship or suffering, her own or that of her poor, could undermine Mother Teresa’s conviction that God IS love, that all He does or permits is ultimately for some greater good and, therefore, an expression of His immense and unconditional love.
St. Augustine wrote at the beginning of his Confessions: “You have made us for yourself, 0 Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” It was Mother Teresa’s conviction that all people “deep down in their heart, believe in God.” There is a longing for God in each of us and though it may not be recognized or consciously expressed as such, the search for joy, for peace, for happiness and above all for love, is a manifestation of this longing. Though the desire, or “hunger” for God, as Mother Teresa expressed it, is implanted in every human heart, entering into a relationship with Him depends largely on our cooperation with His grace. The freedom to cooperate or not is yet another expression of the love and respect that God has for each of His human creatures. He does not force Himself on anyone; He leaves it to our choice. Yet, the response befitting a creature before its Creator, who is infinite love and wisdom ought to be one of love and trust, praise and adoration, recognition and thanksgiving.
Loved so greatly by God, each person is called to share that love; as Mother Teresa often affirmed: “We have been created for greater things, to love and to be loved.” To love as God loves, meeting daily with Him through prayer is essential. Without it love dies. Mother Teresa stressed its importance by saying, “What blood is to the body, prayer is to the soul.” But to enter into prayer, silence is necessary, for “in the silence of the heart God speaks.” Her aphorism1 expressing these truths has become well known:
The fruit of silence is prayer;
the fruit of prayer is faith;
the fruit of faith is love;
the fruit of love is service,
the fruit of service is peace.
This simple yet profound saying places silence as the point of departure for practical love, peace, and service. As Mother Teresa asserted: “Silence is at the root of our union with God and with one another.” Silence and recollection are the indispensable conditions for prayer. An atmosphere of exterior silence is certainly very helpful, but Mother Teresa, who spent most of her life in large, overcrowded cities, learned to be interiorly silent and recollected in the midst of much noise and activity. She shows us that to practice silence one need not flee from the world and live as a hermit. What is necessary is to learn to quiet the mind and heart to dispose ourselves for prayer.
Prayer permeated Mother Teresa’s day: she started, ended, and filled each day with prayer. Her first words upon rising were addressed to God, and throughout the day she spontaneously spoke to Him of her love and gratitude, her plans, hopes, and desires. As soon as some need or difficulty presented itself, however small and insignificant, she turned to God, making her requests with the trust and the expectation of a child dependent on its father. In addition to daily Holy Mass and the morning and evening Liturgy of the Hours (containing psalms, Scripture reading, and intercessions), traditional prayers such as the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, litanies, and novenas, kept her in continual union with God.
An important time of prayer for Mother Teresa was her daily half-hour meditation on the Sacred Scriptures. Formed in the traditional Ignatian method of meditating on the Word of God, principally the Gospels, Mother Teresa was led to intimate conversation and communion with God. Through this prayerful reading, the Word of God took root within her, inflaming her love, influencing her words, and directing her actions. She also nourished her soul each day with an additional half-hour given over to the reading of the lives and writings of the saints or other ascetical works. To help foster recollection throughout the day, Mother Teresa was in the practice of praying “aspirations”—short prayers that raise one’s mind and heart to God in the midst of daily activities. These repetitions were a great aid to keeping herself in God’s presence. Through these means, she grew in deep knowledge and love of God and was able to respond to Him and to her brothers and sisters in love.
Since “love is of God” [1 Jn 4:7], human love is to be a reflection of and a sharing in divine love, which is entirely selfless and seeks only the good of the other. True love is self-giving, self-sacrificing, a “dying to self” in order to love and serve others, and this was the love that Mother Teresa exemplified. In a culture where “love” is overly identified with feelings rather than an act of the will, with pleasure rather than sacrifice, Mother Teresa’s life and teaching, modeled on that of Christ’s, exemplifies the Christian ideal of love.
In an interview Mother Teresa was once asked, “Can you sum up what love really is?” She promptly replied: “Love is giving. God loved the world so much that He gave His Son. Jesus loved the world so much, loved you, loved me so much that He gave His life. And He wants us to love as He loved. And so now we have also to give until it hurts. True love is a giving and giving until it hurts.”
Who is God?
God is love.3
God is everywhere.4
God is the Author of life.5
God is a loving Father.6
God is a merciful Father.7
God is all powerful and He can take care of us.8
God is love and God loves you and loves me.9
God is joy.10
God is purity Himself.
God is with us.11
God is in love with us.
God is in your heart.12
God is faithful.13
God is love, God is joy, God is light,14 God is truth.15
God is thoughtful.
God is so good to us.
God is so generous.
God is so preoccupied with you.
God is a faithful lover.
God is a jealous lover.16
God is so wonderful.17
When God created us, He created us out of love. There is no other explanation because God is love. And He has created us to love and to be loved. If we could remember that all the time, there would be no wars, no violence, no hatred in the world. So beautiful. So simple.
THERE MUST BE A GOD, SOMEWHERE!
The other day a voluntary worker with long hair … was talking to me and he kept on saying, “I don’t believe in God.” So I said to him, “Supposing, just now, as you were talking, you got a heart attack … can you stop it?” He got such a surprise that he didn’t say that phrase any more. He was beginning to realize that, in the end, no matter how much we talk, we can’t change the time of our death. A few days later I heard that, after a lot of thought, he was beginning to make the reservation that there must be a God, somewhere!
WHERE There IS LOVE, THERE IS GOD
One man told me: “I am an atheist,” but he spoke so beautifully about love. Mother told him: “You cannot be an atheist if you speak so beautifully about love. Where there is love, there is God. God is love.”
LOVE, NOT IN WORDS
First, God proved to us that He loved us. God loved the world so much that He gave His son Jesus.” And Jesus loved you, He loved me and He gave Himself on the Cross for us.19 He was not afraid to love us and He loved us until the end.20 He gave up everything that was beautiful and was really like us, a human being. He was like us in everything except sin.21 But He loved us tenderly. And to make sure that we understand His love, that we don’t forget that He loved us, He makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one. And He says, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to Me,”22 and explains to us what to do and how to do it. Before He taught the people, He had pity on the multitude, and He fed them. He made a miracle. He blessed the bread, and He fed five thousand people.23 It’s because He loved the people. He had pity on them. He saw the hunger in their faces and He fed them. And only then He taught them. And so it is so wonderful to think that you and I, we can love God. But how? where? Where is God?
We believe He is everywhere. We believe that He has made you, and made me, not just to be a number in the world, but He has made us with a purpose. There is a reason for our being here…. And that reason is to love. You have been made to love and to be loved. That’s why it is so wrong not to love. And that’s the most beautiful thing that the human being has or can give: Love. Not in words. Because we are human beings [and] we want to see, we want to touch. That’s why the poor people give us much more than we give to them—because they give us an opportunity to love God in them. When I give a piece of bread to a hungry child, I believe what Jesus said, “You give it to Me.” And I give it to that child.
GOD’S LOVING CARE
A few weeks ago, I had the very extraordinary experience of this tenderness of God for the little one. A man came to our house with a prescription from a doctor. He said the child was dying, his only child was dying in the slums of Calcutta and that medicine could not be got in India anywhere. It had to be brought from England. As we were talking, a man came with a basket of medicines. He had gone round to the families and gathered half-used medicines for our poor people—we have these mobile clinics all over the slums of Calcutta and all over the place, and they go round to the families and gather half-used medicines and bring them to us, and we give them to the poor people. And there he came, and right on the top of that basket was that medicine. I just couldn’t believe because if it was inside, I would not have seen it. If he had come before or after, I would not have connected. I just stood in front of that basket and kept looking at the bottle and in my mind I was saying, “Millions and millions and millions of children in the world how could God be concerned with that little child in the slums of Calcutta. To send that medicine, to send that man just at that time, to put that medicine right on the top and to send the full amount that the doctor had prescribed.” See how precious that little one was to God Himself. How concerned He was for that little one.
He is Our Father
The tenderness of God’s love—no one can love as God. He has made us in His image. He made us. He is our Father.
FATHER AND CHILD
“The Father loves me, He wants me, He needs me.” That kind of attitude is our trust, our joy, our conviction. Anything may come: impatience, failures, joy, but say to yourself, “The Father loves me.” God has created the whole world, but He is our Father. In prayer, create that conviction from the inside: Father and child.
No ONE SPOILS US AS Much As GOD
There is great talk going on all over the world that Mother Teresa is spoiling the people by giving them things free. In Bangalore, once at a seminar, in the name of the whole group, one nun got up and said to me, “Mother Teresa, you are spoiling the poor people by giving them things free. They are losing their human dignity. You should take at least ten naya paisa24 for what you give them, then they will feel more their human dignity.” When everyone was quiet, I said calmly, “No one is spoiling as much as God Himself. See the wonderful gifts He has given us freely. All of you here have no glasses, yet you all can see. Say, if God were to take money for your sight, what would happen? We are spending so much money for Shishu Bhavan25 to buy oxygen for saving life, yet continually we are breathing and living on oxygen and we do not pay anything for it. What would happen if God were to say, `You work four hours and you will get sunshine for two hours.’ How many of us would then survive?” Then I also told them: “There are many congregations who spoil the rich, then it is good to have one congregation in the name of the poor, to spoil the poor.” There was profound silence; nobody said a word after that.
One day right in the beginning, we had no rice for dinner and then a lady came and brought rice. She said she was coming back from the office “and something in me told me to go to Mother Teresa and bring her rice.” And so she brought rice. I said: “Please excuse me, I will measure first and then I will tell you.” It was exactly the amount we cooked for dinner, no less, no more, not even half a cup. I told that lady what had happened and she began to cry. She was a Hindu, and she said, “To think that God used me, spoke in my heart. In the whole world, there are millions and millions of people, there are millions of people only in India, and God’s concern for Mother Teresa.” His tender love—you must experience that … even when it is hard, when there is suffering, when there is humiliation. [1-10]
ALONE WITH JESUS
I want you to spend your time being alone with Jesus. What does it mean to be alone with Jesus? It doesn’t mean to sit alone with your own thoughts. No, but even in the midst of the work and of people, you know His presence. It means that you know that He is close to you, that He loves you, that you are precious to Him, that He is in love with you. He has called you and you belong to Him. If you know that, you will be all right anywhere; you will be able to face any failure, any humiliation, any suffering, if you realize Jesus’ personal love for you and yours for Him. Nothing and nobody!26Otherwise you will be so preoccupied with unimportant things that slowly you will be a broken sister…. It is not worth it to leave father and mother and house if we are not all for Jesus. [12-13]
1. After Mother Teresa began receiving international recognition, she started distributing a small card. On one side were the words, “God bless you,” and her signature, and on the other the following saying: “the fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.” With a bit of impish humor, she referred to this card as her “business card.” Unlike standard business cards, hers did not bear the name of her organisation, nor her title, contact information or phone number. Yet the sequence of phrases can be taken as the formula of the “success” of her “business.” Without intending to advertise her undertakings with this well-known quote, Mother Teresa indicated that her endeavors were of a spiritual nature, focused on God and directed toward her neighbor.
2. Cf. ex 3:14
3. 1 Jn 4:8, 4:16.
4. Cf. Ps 139:7-10.
5. Cf. Jn 1:1-4, Acts 3:15.
6. Cf. Mt 6:25-32.
7. Cf. Tob 13:4-6, Eph 2:4.
8. Cf. Wis 11:21; Mt 6:26.
9. Cf. Jn 16:27; 1 Jn 4:16.
10. Cf. Neh 8:10; Jn 17:13.
11. Cf. Mt 1:23.
12. Cf. Rom 10:8.
13. Cf. Dt 7:9; 32:4; 1 Cor 1:9.
14. Jn 8:12; l Jn 1:5.
15. Cf. Jn 14:
16. Cf. Dt. 4:24.
17. “This list of statements reflecting who God was for Mother Teresa has been compiled from her talks given on various occasions.
18. Jn 3:16
19. Cf. Gal 2:20
20. Cf. Jn 13:1.
21. Cf. Heb 4:15, 2:17-18
22. Cf. Mt 25:40
23. Cf. Mt 14:13-21
24. Less than a few U.S.pennies
25. The Missionaries of ‘Charity (MC) home for abandoned children
26. Cf. Rom 8:35,38