Weekend reading: Mother Teresa edition

Mother Teresa is being canonized this weekend – not so much “elevated” to sainthood as “recognized.” She is what heroic virtue looks like, made up of faith and love and energy and supernatural perseverance.

National Prayer Breakfast, 1994: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

President and Mrs. (now Candidate) Clinton weren’t sure what to make of this speech, as they sat through a standing ovation given to Mother Teresa at the event. She spoke of much more than abortion, urging her listeners to recognize and respect the dignity of each human being in every situation. Read the full transcript of the speech, as posted by Priests for Life.

Nobel Prize lecture, 1979: “I appeal everywhere: let us make this year that we make every single child, born and unborn, wanted.”

“Our hunger [is] for God, because we have been created for [His] love. We have been created in His image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then He has become Man to make it possible to love as He loved us. He makes himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the sick one, the one in prison, the lonely one, the unwanted one – and He says: you did it to Me. This is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find. It may be in our own home.

“[I was] visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and had forgotten them, maybe. I saw in that home they had beautiful things, but everyone was looking towards the door. I did not see a single one with a smile. I turned to the Sister and asked, how is it that the people have everything here, why are they looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? She said [that] nearly every day, they are expecting and hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten. See? This is where love comes. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we there to receive them?”

Read a transcript of the full speech here.


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35 years ago this week: Mother Teresa’s Nobel Prize lecture

(photo from nobelprize.org)
(photo from nobelprize.org)

The Nobel Committee in Oslo got it right in 1979 when they recognized the work of the Missionaries of Charity by giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Mother Teresa of Kolkata (Calcutta). A woman of peace, indeed – the peace of unceasing work in the name of God in service to others. Her strong suit was actions, not words, despite her fluency in multiple languages. Her Nobel speech is worth remembering because of the way she used words to make her listeners witnesses to her day-to-day work. Remember and be inspired.

(excerpts follow; full text may be found at this link

Mother Teresa (photo from Missionaries of Charity Fathers web site)
Mother Teresa (photo from Missionaries of Charity Fathers web site)

Our hunger [is] for God, because we have been created for [His] love. We have been created in His image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then He has become Man to make it possible to love as He loved us. He makes himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the sick one, the one in prison, the lonely one, the unwanted one – and He says: you did it to Me. This is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find. It may be in our own home.

[I was] visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and had forgotten them, maybe. I saw in that home they had beautiful things, but everyone was looking towards the door. I did not see a single one with a smile. I turned to the Sister and asked, how is it that the people have everything here, why are they looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? She said [that] nearly every day, they are expecting and hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten. See? This is where love comes. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we there to receive them?

We are talking of peace. The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing. And this I appeal in India, I appeal everywhere: let us make this year that we make every single child, born and unborn, wanted. 

One evening, we went out and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, and she said one thing only – “thank you” – and then she died. I could not help [but ask myself] what I would say in her place. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said I am hungry, that I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain, or something. But she gave me much more; she gave me her grateful love. She died with a smile on her face. 

I believe that we are not real social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of the world. We are touching the Body of Christ 24 hours a day. You, too, try to bring that presence of God into your family; the family that prays together stays together. Just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home, and we will be able to overcome all of the evil that is in the world. Love begins at home. If we all look into our own homes, how difficult we find it sometimes to smile at each other. That smile is the beginning of love. Make time for each other in your family.

When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. I have removed that hunger. But the person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out from society – that poverty is so much; I find it very difficult. 

We must live life beautifully. We have Jesus with us, and He loves us. If we could only remember that God loves us, and I have an opportunity to love others as He loves me, not in big things but in small things with great love, then [this place] becomes a nest of love. And how beautiful it will be that from here, a center for peace has been given. That from here, the joy of life of the unborn child comes out. 

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?

My December Lists: Gratitude & Favorites

Why not “My Christmas Lists”? Because it’s Advent, silly.

Four retiring (for now) elected officials from New Hampshire who deserve a lot more credit than they’ll ever seek:

  • Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire (R-Concord), whose votes on Title X contracts put him into a spotlight he never sought but refused to dodge. 
  • Senator Fenton Groen (R-Rochester), who stepped down to concentrate on his family-run business. A more compassionate man would be tough to find.
  • Rep. Sue DeLemus (R- Rochester), who lost her re-election bid. Her own experience as a post-abortive woman informed every vote she cast on the life issues. She brooked no nonsense when anyone in the room started up about “choice” when what was meant was “abortion.”
  • Rep. Kathy Lauer-Rago (R-Franklin), who chose not to run again, preferring to put future efforts into school choice initiatives. Among other things, she co-sponsored informed consent legislation as well as a resolution commending pregnancy care centers.

Two candidates I hope I’ll hear from again: Debi Warner and Michael Tierney, just because they both have good humor and tenacity to spare.  Dr. Warner, a psychologist from Littleton, ran unsuccessfully for the state senate in district 1. She’s a gem and a credit to her district. Tierney, a pro-life attorney, ran for Executive Council in a district that was drawn to make roadkill out of any Republican nominee, as I described here .  He got 42% of the vote as a first-time candidate.

Candidates I hope I never hear from again: Nope. Not going there. This is about gratitude.

One newly-elected state representative I’ll be watching: Jane Cormier. This lady is fasten-your-seat-belt material. Watch & be amazed at her July 17 speech at the Values Bus tour in Concord.

New Hampshire’s most underrated pro-life activists of 2012: The students of the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner. They made my day anytime they came to Concord with their public, polite, unapologetic witness for life. I tip my hat to College president Dr. George Harne.

Events that encouraged me this year:

  • All three religious freedom rallies held in Concord.
  • The first meeting with other charter school parents after the state Board of Ed started playing games with funding this fall. Kate Baker‘s determination is an amazing phenomenon. Read about her work with NEO New Hampshire .

Three books I loved this year:

  • Peace, They Say by Jay Nordlinger,  about the Nobel Peace Prize and its winners – some deserving, some outrageous, some nearly forgotten. Smooth writing, enlightening reading.
  • Unplanned by Abby Johnson, which has pride of place as the first book I bought for my Kindle. Johnson walked away from the abortion industry, after spending years defending it. Some of her most incisive comments are about the pro-lifers she encountered along the way, not all of whom did their cause credit.
  • 50 Hikes North of the White Mountains by Kim Nilsen, about which I’ve already raved in my Granite State Walker blog.

Three sites I bookmarked this year:

  • Conscience Cause (www.consciencecause.com) was created by defenders of religious liberty moved to action by the HHS mandate. The site is simple and straightforward, and it explains the mandate while providing links to more information.
  • Patheos (www.patheos.com) claims to be “hosting the conversation on faith.”  It’s a sprawling, rowdy web site with something to engage and enrage everyone. There are diamonds in the dust, though, and about once a week I find something particularly thought-provoking.
  • National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com) is my favorite site for news and commentary, because that’s where I can get Jay Nordlinger & Jonah Goldberg & Kathryn Lopez all in one place.

Three things I can celebrate now that the 2012 campaign is over:

  • Family dinners. I now could honestly sit at my dinner table with a bowl of corn flakes and love it as long as it’s with my family.
  • Reading the paper. I mean real made-from-trees paper. I get plenty of my news online, but with the campaign’s time crunches, that was my only way to stay current. The Saturday after the election, I sat at my kitchen table with the Union Leader and the weekend Wall Street Journal and spent an unhurried hour reading them. What a splendid luxury.
  • Going to Mass at my home parish, since I’m no longer in a different town every weekend.
  • And all of the above must be qualified with “…until next time.”