On this date in 1979: Mother Teresa’s Nobel Prize lecture

© 1986 Túrelio (Wikimedia-Commons) / Lizenz: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-2.0 de
© 1986 Túrelio (Wikimedia-Commons) / Lizenz: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-2.0 de

Mother Teresa of Calcutta was awarded the Nobel Peace prize thirty-four years ago. She may be the only Nobel laureate who ever used her Nobel lecture to promote natural family planning. Her theme was love and commitment and peace, so NFP fit quite well – along with her references to the Holy Family, St. Francis, the generosity of the poor, the need for families to spend time together, why smiling is so important, and “the greatest destroyer of peace today”: abortion.

Whew.

You can hear or read the full lecture at this link. Share it with the kids in your life, too, so they know this woman as a real human being, not a historical artifact.

What she wrote about families hasn’t received nearly as much attention as her work on the right to life. This is from her Nobel lecture, and it’s as compelling now as it was then.

I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face. And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten, and see – this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect to love. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried, and these are difficult days for everybody. Are we there, are we there to receive them, is the mother there to receive the child?