Mother Teresa on the Simple Path compiled by Lucinda Vardey
The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “Meditations from A Simple Path,” excerpted from “A Simple Path” and compiled by Lucinda Vardey.
THE SIMPLE PATH
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.
1. THE FRUIT OF SILENCE IS PRAYER
a. I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks. God is the friend of silence—–we need to listen to God because it’s not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters. Prayer feeds the soul—–as blood is to the body, prayer is to the soul—–and it brings you closer to God. It also gives you a clean and pure heart. A clean heart can see God, can speak to God, and can see the love of God in others.
b. If you are searching for God and do not know where to begin, learn to pray and take the trouble to pray every day. You can pray anytime, anywhere. You can pray at work—–work doesn’t have to stop prayer and prayer doesn’t have to stop work. Tell Him everything, talk to Him. He is our father, He is father to us all whatever religion we are. We are all created by God, we are his children. We have to put our trust in Him and love Him, believe in Him, work for Him. And if we pray, we will get all the answers we need.
c. Without prayer I could not work for even half an hour. I get my strength from God through prayer.
d. Start and end the day with prayer. Come to God as a child. If you find it hard to pray you can say, “Come Holy Spirit, guide me, protect me, clear out my mind so that I can pray.” When you pray, give thanks to God for all His gifts because everything is His and a gift from Him. Your soul is a gift of God. If you are Christian, you can say the Lord’s Prayer; if Catholic, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Rosary, the Creed—–all common prayers. If you or your family have your own devotions, then pray according to them.
e. Every night before you go to bed you must make an examination of conscience (because you don’t know if you will be alive in the morning!). Whatever is troubling you, or whatever wrong you may have done, you need to repair it. Remember that God is merciful, He is the merciful father to us all. We are His children and He will forgive and forget if we remember to do so.
2. MAKE YOUR FAMILY A FAMILY OF LOVE
a. Prayer is needed for children and in families. Love begins at home and that is why it is important to pray together. If you pray together you will stay together and love each other as God loves each one of you.
b. A PRAYER TO THE HOLY FAMILY
Heavenly Father, You have given us a model of life in the Holy Family of Nazareth. Help us, 0 loving Father, to make our family another Nazareth where love, peace, and joy reign.
May it be deeply contemplative, intensely Eucharistic, and vibrant with joy.
Help us to stay together in joy and sorrow through family prayer.
Teach us to see Jesus in the members of our family, especially in His distressing disguises.
May the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus make our hearts meek and humble like His and help us to carry out our family duties in a holy way.
May we love one another as God loves each one of us more and more each day, and forgive each other’s faults as You forgive our sins.
Help us, 0 loving Father, to take whatever You give and to give whatever You take with a big smile.
Immaculate Heart of Mary cause of our joy, pray for us.
Saint Joseph pray for us.
Holy Guardian Angels be always with us, guide and protect us.
c. People ask me what advice I have for a married couple struggling in their relationship. I always answer “Pray and forgive”; and to young people who come from violent homes, “Pray and forgive”; and to the single mother with no family support, “Pray and forgive.” You can say, “My Lord, I love You. My God, I am sorry. My God, I believe in You. My God, I trust You. Help us to love one an other as You love us.”
3. GOD IS A FRIEND OF SILENCE
a. We all need time for silence, to reflect and to pray.
b. God is everywhere and in everything and we are all His children. When we gather in His name this gives us strength.
4. PRAY EVERY DAY
a. Try to feel the need for prayer often during the day and take the trouble to pray. Prayer makes the heart large enough until it can contain God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.
b. Let us all become a true and fruitful branch on the vine Jesus, by accepting Him in our lives as it pleases Him to come:
as the Truth—–to be told;
as the Life—–to be lived;
as the Light—–to be lighted;
as the Love—–to be loved;
as the Way—–to be walked;
as the Joy—–to be given;
as the Peace—–to be spread;
as the Sacrifice—–to be offered,
in our families and within our neighborhood.
c. O God, we believe You are here.
We adore and love You with our whole heart and soul because You are most worthy of all our love.
We desire to love You as the Blessed do in Heaven.
We adore all the designs of Your divine Providence, resigning ourselves entirely to Your Will.
We also love our neighbor for Your sake as we love ourselves.
We sincerely forgive all who have injured us, and ask pardon of all whom we have injured.
Dear Jesus, help us to spread Your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly,
That our lives may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through us, and be so in us,
That every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus!
Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as You shine;
So to shine as to be a light to others.
The light 0 Jesus will be all from You, none of it will be ours;
It will be You, shining on others through us.
Let us thus praise You in the way You love best by shining on those around us.
Let us preach You without preaching, not by words but by our example,
By the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what we do,
The evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to You.
d. Deliver me, 0 Jesus,
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the desire of being popular,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being suspected.
5. THE FRUIT OF PRAYER IS FAITH
a. God is everywhere and in everything and without Him we cannot exist.
b. There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:
Jesus is my God,
Jesus is my Spouse,
Jesus is my Life,
Jesus is my only Love,
Jesus is my All in All,
Jesus is my Everything.
Because of this I am never afraid.
c. So take whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile. Accept the gifts of God and be deeply grateful. If He has given you great wealth, make use of it, try to share it with others, with those who don’t have anything. Always share with others.
d. We are all capable of good and evil. We are not born bad: everybody has something good inside. Some hide it, some neglect it, but it is there. God created us to love and to be loved, so it is our test from God to choose one path or the other.
e. We have to avoid any kind of temptation that will destroy us. We gain the strength to overcome this from prayer, because if we are close to God we spread joy and love to everybody around us.
f. Christ’s love is always stronger than the evil in the world, so we need to love and to be loved: it’s as simple as that.
6. EACH LIFE IS PRECIOUS TO GOD
a. I see God in the eyes of every child…Every life is precious to God, whatever the circumstances.
b. There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic be come a better Catholic.
c. To God, everything is simple—–God’s love for us is greater than all the conflicts, which will pass.
7. FAITH IS A GIFT 0F GOD
a. It is God’s wish that we grow in our faith.
b. It is important to gain self-knowledge as part of spiritual growth—–to know yourself and believe in yourself means you can know and believe in God. Knowledge of yourself produces humility and knowledge of God produces love.
c. THE TREE 0F SELF-DEFEAT
In the branches: Emptiness
In the roots: Fear Insecurity
d. THE TREE OF SELF-REALIZATION
In the branches: Purposefulness
In the roots: Charity Friendship
8. I AM ON MY WAY TO HEAVEN
(From a sign on the morgue of the home for the dying and destitute, Calcutta.)
a. All things are decided by God. He decides when we live and when we die. We have to put our faith in Him and do the work that He has called us to do right up to when we die.
b. Anyone is capable of going to Heaven. Heaven is our home. Dying is not the end, it is just the beginning. Death is a continuation of life. This is the meaning of eternal life; it is where our soul goes to God, to be in the presence of God, to see God, to speak to God, to continue loving Him with greater love. We only surrender our body in death—–our heart and our soul live forever.
Yesterday is gone and tomorrow has not yet come; we must live each day as if it were our last so that when God calls us we are ready, and prepared, to die with a clean heart.
9. THE FRUIT OF FAITH IS LOVE
a. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
b. When you know how much God is in love with you then you can only live your life radiating that love.
c. The following prayer is the prayer every Missionary of Charity says before leaving for his or her Apostolate. It is also used as the Physician’s Prayer in Shishu Bhavan, the children’s home in Calcutta:
Dear Lord, the Great Healer, I kneel before You,
Since every perfect gift must come from You.
I pray, give skill to my hands, clear vision to my mind, kindness and meekness to my heart.
Give me singleness of purpose, strength to lift up a part of the burden of my suffering fellow men, and a true realization of the privilege that is mine.
Take from my heart all guile and worldliness,
That with the simple faith of a child, I may rely on You.
d. Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity it is about love. Charity and love are the same—–with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.
e. Love has no meaning if it isn’t shared. Love has to be put into action. You have to love without expectation, to do something for love itself, not for what you may receive. If you expect something in return, then it isn’t love, because true love is loving without conditions and expectations.
f. The poor are hungry not only for food, they are hungry to be recognized as human beings. They are hungry for dignity and to be treated as we are treated. They are hungry for our love.
10. EVERY ACT OF LOVE IS A PRAYER
a. It is not how much you do but how much love you put into the doing and sharing with others that is important. Try not to judge people. If you judge others then you are not giving love.
b. We must grow in love and to do this we must go on loving and loving and giving and giving until it hurts—–the way Jesus did. You must give what will cost you something. Then your gift becomes a sacrifice, which will have value before God. Any sacrifice is useful if it is done out of love.
This giving until it hurts—–this sacrifice—–is also what I call love in action. Every day I see this love—–in children, men, and women.
c. By becoming poor ourselves, by loving until it hurts, we become capable of loving more deeply, more beautifully, more wholly.
d. We have to accept suffering with joy, we have to live a life of poverty with cheerful trust and to minister to Jesus in the poorest of the poor with cheerfulness. God loves a cheerful giver. If you are always ready to say Yes to God, you will naturally have a smile for all and be able, with God’s blessing, to give until it hurts.
e. The password of the early Christians was joy, so let us still serve the Lord with joy. Joy is love, joy is prayer, joy is strength. God loves a person who gives joyfully, and if you give joyfully you always give more. A joyful heart is the result of a heart burning with love.
Works of love are always works of joy. We don’t need to look for happiness: if we have love for others we’ll be given it. It is the gift of God.
11. THE FRUIT OF LOVE IS SERVICE
a. Prayer in action is love, and love in action is service.
b. We have a sign on the wall of the children’s home in Calcutta that reads:
TAKE TIME TO THINK
TAKE TIME TO PRAY
TAKE TIME TO LAUGH
IT IS THE SOURCE OF POWER
IT IS THE GREATEST POWER ON EARTH
IT IS THE MUSIC OF THE SOUL
TAKE TIME TO PLAY
TAKE TIME TO LOVE AND BE LOVED
TAKE TIME TO GIVE
IT IS THE SECRET OF PERPETUAL YOUTH
IT IS GOD’S GIVEN PRIVILEGE
IT IS TOO SHORT A DAY TO BE SELFISH
TAKE TIME TO READ
TAKE TIME TO BE FRIENDLY
TAKE TIME TO WORK
IT IS THE FOUNTAIN OF WISDOM
IT IS THE ROAD TO HAPPINESS
IT IS THE PRICE OF SUCCESS
TAKE TIME TO DO CHARITY
IT IS THE KEY TO HEAVEN.
c. We are all God’s children so it is important to share His gifts. Do not worry about why problems exist in the world—–just respond to people’s needs.
d. Works of love are always a means of becoming closer to God.
e. Our work is constant. The problems of the poor continue, so our work continues. Yet everyone can do some thing beautiful for God by reaching out to the poor. I see only people filled with God’s love, wanting to do works of love. This is the future—–this is God’s wish for us—–to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.
f. YOU HAVE COME TO SERVE CHRIST IN THE CRIPPLED, THE SICK AND THE DYING.
WE ARE HAPPY AND THANKFUL THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN THIS OPPORTUNITY TO BE A WITNESS OF GOD’S LOVE IN ACTION.
REMEMBER THAT IT IS CHRIST WHO WORKS THROUGH US—–WE ARE MERELY IN STRUMENTS FOR SERVICE.
IT IS NOT HOW MUCH WE DO, BUT HOW MUCH LOVE WE PUT INTO THE DOING.
—from a poster in the Mother House welcoming volunteers
g. The prayers below are favorites of mine. I give them to people who visit, to guide and help them as they serve others.
h. Dear Lord, help me to spread thy fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Thy spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Thee 0 Lord!
Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest; so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light 0 Lord will be all from Thee; none of it will be mine;
It will be Thou, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise Thee in the way Thou dost love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach Thee without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to Thee.
JOHN HENRY CARDINAL NEWMAN
i. Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them, through our hands, this day their daily bread; and by our understanding love, give peace and joy.
POPE PAUL VI
j. But I say again that you don’t have to come to India to give love to others—–the street you live on can be your Nirmal Hriday. You can help the poor in your own country.
12. THE FRUIT OF SERVICE IS PEACE
a. Works of love are always works of peace. Whenever you share love with others, you’ll notice the peace that comes to you and to them. When there is peace, there is God—–that is how God touches our lives and shows His love for us by pouring peace and joy into our hearts.
Lead me from death to life,
From falsehood to truth.
Lead me from despair to hope,
From fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love,
From war to peace.
Let peace fill our hearts,
Our world our universe
Peace peace peace.
b. We have a right to be happy and peaceful. We have been created for this—–we are born to be happy—–and we can only find true happiness and peace when we are in love with God: there is joy in loving God, great happiness in loving Him.
c. Many people think that having money makes you happy. I think it must be harder to be happy if you are wealthy because you may find it difficult to see God: you’ll have too many other things to think about. However, if God has given you this gift of wealth, then use it for His purpose—–help others, help the poor, create jobs, give work to others. Don’t waste your wealth. Having food, a home, dignity, freedom, health, and an education are all of God’s gifts too, which is why we must help those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
d. Everything is God’s to give and to take away, so share what you’ve been given, and that includes yourself.
e. Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more. Be happy now and if you show through your actions that you love others, including those who are poorer than you, you’ll give them happiness, too. It doesn’t take much—–it can be just giving a smile. The world would be a much better place if everyone smiled more. So smile, be cheerful, be joyous that God loves you.
f. Finally, I have only one message of peace and that is to love one another as God loves each one of you. Jesus came to give us the good news that God loves us and that He wants us to love one another. And when the time comes to die and go home to God again, we will hear Him say, “Come and possess the Kingdom prepared for you, because I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self—centered,
LOVE THEM ANYWAY
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
If you are successful, you win false and true enemies,
The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow,
DO GOOD ANYWAY
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable,
BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY
What you spent years building may be destroyed overnight,
People really need help but may attack you if you help them,
HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth,
GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST
YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.
—From a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan,
the children’s home in Calcutta