Modern Family by Mother Teresa
The passages below are quotations of Mother Teresa from the book “Loving Jesus,” edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado
1. THE TROUBLE WITH THE MODERN FAMILY (14-16)
I think the world today is upside-down. It is suffering so much because there is so little love in the home and in family life.
We have no time for our children.
We have no time for each other.
There is no time to enjoy each other.
Love lives in homes, and the lack of love causes so much suffering and unhappiness in the world today.
Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches, so that children have very little time for their parents. And parents have very little time for their children and for each other.
So the breakdown of peace in the world begins at home.
People who really and truly love each other are the happiest people in the world. We see that with our very poor people. They love their children and they love their families. They may have very little, in fact, they may not have anything, but they are happy people.
Jesus did not say, “Love the whole world.”
He said, “Love one another.”
You can only love one person at a time. If you look at the numbers, you get lost. While you are talking about hunger, somebody is dying next to you.
If you want to do something beautiful for God, look at your own family and at the poor around.
It is a gift from God for you to be able to serve him in your families and in his poor. Even if it is one person only, that one is still your brother or your sister.
Nationality doesn’t matter.
Colour doesn’t matter.
Being rich or poor doesn’t matter.
That person is your brother or your sister.
And how do we know this? Because Jesus said, “Whatever you do for the least of my brethren, you do to me” (Matthew 25:40).
2. Teach the children to love one another (21-22)
It is always so much easier for us to be very kind to the people outside our own circle than to be full of smiles and full of love to those in our own homes. For me that means being kind to my own Sisters.
Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow is yet to come.
We have only today.
If we help our children to be what they should be today, then, when tomorrow becomes today, they will have the necessary courage to face it with greater love.
Right from the very beginning, since love begins at home, I think we should teach our children to love one another at home. They can learn this only from their father and mother, when they see the parents’ love for each other.
I think this will strengthen our children, so that they can give that love to others in the future.
3. LOVE AND SERVICE BEGIN AT HOME (80-83)
We should never forget: love begins at home. Yes, today we are having a terrible time, because we have so many broken, unhappy families.
They don’t pray together. There is no sharing. There is no joy of serving each other.
Poverty is not the cause.
No, it is not poverty.
What then is causing this?
It is unbridled ambition for things and for status, something that interferes in our lives, that we love more than our family.
That’s why I very often tell young people, “It is very beautiful for a young man to love a young woman. And for a young woman to love a young man. But make sure you love each other with pure heart, with a clean heart—more than money, more than any possession. The greatest gift you can give to each other is a clean heart and a virgin body.” The loss of purity, of chastity, of virginity has affected so many lives.
I never tire of talking about family life and expressing my desire for families to be holy and united, where love reigns among all family members.
How will husband and wife stay together? We have the marvellous example of the Holy Family of Nazareth in plain view.
Why do we call them the “Holy Family of Nazareth?” Because there was such living holiness among them. They were of one heart, full of love, in the very heart of God.
There was no division.
There was no misunderstanding.
We know how much St Joseph loved Mary. When he found out that she was with child, he could have presumed the worst. He could have gone straight to the chief priest to denounce her for adultery. But no, he did not do it, because he loved her so tenderly! He would have preferred to be stoned rather than have Mary stoned. Here we have an example of tender love, of mutual concern. And an angel told St Joseph in a dream that this child was God’s very own.
If father and mother have that concern for each other, naturally the children will learn from them. And when the time comes for them to be parents, they too will know what to do and how to do it.
Teach your children to love one another.
Teach your children to have respect for each other.
Teach your children to share.
Teach your children, because nowadays many schools do not teach these things.
I will never forget how a little four-year-Hindu child taught me how to show great love.
It was at 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.
Children and young people have generous hearts. They are eager to help. One day two young people came to our house and gave me a large amount of money.
“Where did you get so much money?” I asked them.
They said, “Two days ago, we got married. And before getting married, we decided not to have wedding feast, not to buy wedding clothes, so we could give you the money.”
I know very well what a big sacrifice that means to a Hindu family. So, I asked them, “Why did you do that?”
And you know what answer they gave me? “We love each other so much that we wanted to share the joy of loving with the people you serve.”
They wanted to share the joy of loving.
Do you know that right where you live, there are many people in the streets? Hundreds come every day to our places, just for a little food, a little human warmth, a smile, a handshake—nothing more.
Do you know that?
Come and see!
I will never forget one day in Venezuela when I went to visit a family who had given us a lamb. I went to thank them and there I found out that they had a badly crippled child. I asked the mother, “What is the child’s name? What do you call him at home?”
The mother gave me the most beautiful answer. “We call him ‘Teacher of Love’, because he keeps on teaching us how to love. Everything we do for him is our love for God in action.”
What a beautiful spirit!
4. The Hands and Feet of Jesus (79-80)
Jesus spent most of his time repeating on earth one thing, “Love one another as God loves you. As the Father has loved me, I love you. Love one another” (John 15:9).
When we look at the cross, we discover how much Jesus loved us. When we look at the tabernacle, we know how much he loves us now. That is why it is very important for us, if we really want to love and to be loved, to learn to pray. Let us teach our children to pray. Let’s pray with them.
Think of the fruit of our prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith. Prayer leads us to say: “I believe.”
The fruit of faith is love. Faith leads us to say: “I love.”
The fruit of love is service. Love leads us to say, “I want to serve.”
And the fruit of service is peace.
5. THE DESTROYER OF PEACE (60-62)
Abortion is the great destroyer of peace in the world today. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left to prevent us from killing each other? There is nothing to prevent it.
What can we do? If necessary, let us start homes, where we can gather together these children. Maybe they are not wanted, or maybe their parents cannot afford to take care of them. Let us then decide to take care of them ourselves.
By doing so, you and I will do something beautiful for God. We will give a wonderful home to children who would otherwise be destroyed and unwanted. We will fill those mothers’ hearts with joy. Because, deep down in their hearts, they feel so sad.
What about your own family? Pray that God will come into your family, that your daughter or your son will be offered to God, dedicated to his service. Pray for your children:
To become his love, his compassion.
To become the reflection of his life in the world.
To become the hope of happiness in the world.
To become that burning flame of God in the world of today.
The world has never had such a great need for God’s love as it does today.
It doesn’t matter who you are. You may be a Protestant family or a Catholic family. Every family needs to pray, needs to turn to God, to believe in God and in his love.
When you feel disturbed or confused, when you are tempted to do something evil, when—if you are a mother—you are tempted to have your child destroyed, pray to God, “Help me now! Protect me from this sinful deed!” He will be there to give you the help to do his will.
Let us pray together, “Dear God, bless our families. Keep our families united.” The family that prays together, stays together. And if we stay together, we will love one another. If we have prayer in our lives, there will be no cause for fear. Then the very love of Christ will penetrate and strengthen each of us.
The following passages by Mother Teresa are taken from the book, “A Life for God,” compiled by LaVonne Neff and published in 1995.
1. People are afraid of having children.
Children have lost their place in the family.
Children are very lonely, very lonely!
When children come home from school, there is no one to greet them. Then they go back to the streets.
We must find our children again and bring them back home. Mothers are at the heart of the family. Children need their mothers. If the mother is there, the children will be there too. For the family to be whole, the children and the mother also need the father to be present in the home.
I think if we can help to bring them all back together, we will do a beautiful thing for God. (246)
2. Perhaps in our own families, there is someone who feels lonely, who is sick, or who is overburdened with worry. Are we there, open and willing to offer support and affection? Are you, mothers, available to your children?
I was surprised to find out how many young people in the slums, both boys and girls, are involved with drugs. I have tried to find out why. “Why is this happening?” I asked.
The answer was, “There is no one at home to love them. Parents are too busy and don’t have time for them. Young parents are so involved in social commitments and activities that their children go out into the streets and get mixed up in something which is bad for them.” Here we are talking about peace, and these are the very things that shatter peace. (247)
3. If in your family, your young daughter or son has done something wrong, forgive them. Show them the forgiving heart of God.(246)
4. I cannot forget my mother. She was usually very busy all day long. But when sunset drew near, it was her custom to hurry with her tasks in order to be ready to receive my father.
At the time we did not understand, and we would smile and even joke a little about it. Today I cannot help but call to mind that great delicacy of love that she had for him. No matter what happened, she was always prepared, with a smile on her lips, to welcome him.
Today we have no time. Fathers and mothers are so busy that when children come home they are not welcomed with love or with a smile. (252)