Mother Teresa: Service, Work, and Evangelization

Since we are now three days away from the Canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, soon-to-be, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, I feel the need to use the next five days to write about the many wonderful things she said over her lifetime. It would be hard for me to think that there are individuals in this world that are not familiar with Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity, since they are in nearly every country around the globe. The work they do on daily basis is incomprehensible to many of us, and yet, they have their critics that hate them, but as Christ said to us, “if the world hates you, realize that it hated me first” (Jn 15:18).

For my first post on Mother Teresa, I would like to focus on the things she said about service, work, and evangelization, since these are there things that I do, along with my co-workers and many friends across the world on a daily basis, often to people who barely know Jesus Christ and to places he has never been. She regularly speaks of the material poor, but the people many of the people we serve endure the poverty of the spiritual life.

As evangelists and catechists, we bring Jesus Christ to the people we serve, for many of us, that is in the life of the parish or in Catholic schools. Although we are far from perfect, and our sinful natures can get the best of us, we strive to be like the saints that came before us who brought the message of Jesus Christ and His Church to the world. It is only through the grace of the Sacraments, instituted by Christ himself, that we have the ability to overcome our struggles and be little Christ’s to the world.

Mother Teresa 1

So with this being said, let’s read through 7 quotes on the aforementioned topics from the soon-to-be Albanian saint –

1. “If I had to start all over again, I would do the same thing. I have experienced many human weaknesses, many human frailties, and I still experience them. But we need to use them. We need to work for Christ with a humble heart, with the humility of Christ. He comes and uses us to be his love and compassion in the world in spite of our weaknesses and frailties.”

2. “We must work in great faith, steadily, efficiently, and above all with great love and cheerfulness, for without this our work will be only the work of slaves, serving a hard master…When you go out for your task, spread all around you the joy of belonging to God, of living with God, of being his own.

3. “Never do the work carelessly because you wish to hide your gifts. Remember, the work is his. You are his co-worker. Therefore, he depends on you for that special work. Do the work with him, and the work will be done for him. The talents God has given you are not yours – they have been given to you for your use, for the glory of God. There can be no half-measures in the work. You may feel very bad, but feelings are not the measure of our love for Christ. It is our will and our work that matters. Be great and use everything in you for the good Master.”

4. “When we do ‘our work,’ visiting the families, teaching the children, nursing the sick, helping the dying, gathering the little children for church, we should do it with one aim in view: ‘the salvation of the poor.’ We want to bring them to Jesus and bring Jesus to them.”

5. “What is the good news? The good news is that God still loves the world through each one of you. You are God’s good news, you are God’s love in action. Through you, God is still loving the world.”

6. “We have to carry our Lord to places where he has not walked before. Therefore the sisters must be consumed with one desire: Jesus. Speak of no one but him crucified. We must not be afraid to do the things he did – to go fearless thoroughly death and danger with him and for him.”

7. “To be a co-worker means to work along with someone, to share together in tiredness, humiliations, and shame, not only in success. Those who share everything are partners, giving love for love, suffering for suffering. Jesus, you have died, you have given everything, you lifeblood, all. Now it is my turn. I put everything into the field also. The common soldier fights in the way, but the devoted one tries to be near the captain to share his fate. This is the only truth…the only thing that matters – for it is the spirit of Christ.”

I hope that you can take these quotes and reflect upon them, whatever your state in life is. Those of us that serve the Catholic Church, although imperfectly, must permit these quotes to stir in our hearts, even on the toughest days.

To conclude, I ask that you please pray for all the pilgrims that are making their way to Rome for the Canonization of Mother Teresa – pray for their safety. Pray for all those people who through vile words disapprove of Christ, His Mother, His Church, His Saints, and the particular works of the Missionaries of Charity. The devil is working overtime; so must we.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta…Pray for Us.

This blog post is dedicated to my fellow staff members at the parish of Saint Mary Magdalene. We all do the work of Christ each day.

Check back tomorrow for another blog post on a different topic associated with Mother Teresa.

17 Quotes from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Since today is the 17th anniversary of the death of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, known to many around the world as Mother Teresa, I wanted to share with you 17 quotes from the great 20th century saint. Although her official Canonization is still in the process, there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that she is in Heaven with Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, the entire army of angels and saints.

The impact that she gave the world, not only in her witness to serve the poor, but also with the order she founded – The Missionaries of Charity – will be felt for decades to come. On nearly every continent, the Missionaries of Charity serve the poorest of the poor by being Jesus Christ to those who are less fortunate. They are essentially “Little Jesuses.” Please pray for the cause of the Canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and for the continued work of the Missionaries of Charity.

The indispensable wisdom of Mother Teresa…

1. “I knew that God wanted something from me. I was only twelve years old, living with my parents in Skopje, Yugoslavia (now Macedonia), when I first sensed the desired to become a nun. At that time there were some very good priests who helped boys and girls follow their vocation, according to God’s call. It was then that I realized that my call was to the poor.”

2. “I am Albanian by birth. Now I am a citizen of India. I am also a Catholic nun. In my work, I belong to the whole world. But in my heart, I belong to Christ.”

3. “True love causes pain. Jesus, in order to give us the proof of his love, died on the cross. A mother, in order to give birth to her baby, has to suffer. If you really love one another, you will not be able to avoid making sacrifices.”

4. “I always repeat that we Missionaries of Charity are not social workers. We may be doing social work, but we are really contemplatives right at the heart of the world. We are with Jesus twenty-four hours a day. We do everything for Jesus. We do it for Jesus.”

5. “Today is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them.”

6. “[To parents]: Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home. Make them long to be with their families. So much sin could be avoided if our people loved their homes.”

7. “Young people, make a strong resolution today, that we will keep our purity pure, our chastity chaste, our virginity virgin! The greatest gift you can give to each other on the day of your wedding, or to God, on the day when you join the priesthood or religious life, is a pure heart, a pure body.”

8. “Prayer is as necessary as the air, as the blood in our bodies, as anything to keep us alive – to keep alive to the grace of God.”

mother teresa

9. “Holiness is not the luxury of the few; it is a simple duty for you and for me. We have been created for that. So let us be holy as Our Father in Heaven is holy.”

10. “One cannot expect to become a saint without paying the price, and the price is much renunciation, much temptation, much struggle and persecution, and all sorts of sacrifices. One cannot love God except at the cost of oneself.”

11. “Joy is very infectious. We will never know just how much a good simple smile can do. Be faithful in little things. Smile at one another. We must live beautifully.”

12. “The vocation of Our Lady was to accept Jesus into her life. She accepted being the handmaid of the Lord. Then in haste, she went to give Jesus to St. John the Baptist and his mother. Today the same living Jesus comes to us and we too, like Mary, must go in haste to give him to others.”

13. “Abortion destroys the image of God. It is the most terrible plague in our society, the greatest killer of love and peace. Those little children still unborn have been created for bigger things: to love and to be loved.”

14. “Death is the most decisive moment in human life. It is like our coronation: to die in peace with God.”

15. “Penance calls us away from sin and to God. It leads us away from mediocrity and to a life fervor, generosity, and sanctity.”

16. “I do not understand why some people are saying that women and men are exactly the same, and are denying the beautiful differences between men and women. All God’s gifts are good, but they are not all the same.”

17. “Do we believe that God’s love is infinitely more powerful, his mercy more tender than the evil of sin, than all the hatred, conflicts, and tensions that are dividing the world? Than the most powerful bombs and guns ever made by human hands and minds?”

It is my hope that you will share this post with your family and friends as well as copy and paste some of these quotes from this post and use them on your social media sites.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta…Pray for the World and Pray for Us.

Holiness and Martyrdom as a Catholic in America

When Cardinal Timothy Dolan received his red hat on February 18, he said that he was grateful to the Holy Father for giving him this honor, but he just wants to be a saint. If I were to sit down with Cardinal Dolan today, I would share with him that the easiest way to canonization, according to the 6th point in the article – Desiderata for 2012 written by Reverend C. John McCloskey III, is to die a martyr. Knowing the extent of Cardinal Dolan’s experience and education, I would imagine that he would already understand this fact. I make this statement because martyrdom is very likely to appear in the United States of America in the years to come. With the greatest threats against Religious Freedom and attacks on the First Amendment this country has ever seen, it it quite possible that not only will our bishops, priests, and religious face martyrdom, but many faithful and obedient Catholics who will not comply with a tyrannical government could as well. I will let this marinate in your minds return to it at the end.

With that being said, the purpose of my blog is to engage and educate the Catholic lay faithful in the New Evangelization. It’s my hope that through my writing, I will help teach the “basics” of the Catholic faith for Catholic adults, who did receive proper catechesis as adolescents. In the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and one of his great vicars and universal shepherds, we must remember – “Be Not Afraid!” We must not be afraid of what lies ahead of us or be afraid to learn more about Catholicism. Today, I will discuss holiness, what it means to be saint, and martyrdom.

In Thessalonians 1:6-7, St. Paul says, “you become imitators of us and of the Lord…you became an example to all the believers…” To be holy and to seek perfection is not an option, but an obligation. As followers of Jesus Christ, we must always thrive to be saints. Every Christian has the capacity of becoming a saint. Our purpose in life is to be holy in imitation of Jesus Christ, who is all holy. He is to be our perfect model. As St. Paul says in Corinthians 11:1 – “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

What is holiness?

Holiness is the separation of the irreverent, seeking and giving oneself to God. God is the foundation of holiness because God is all goodness. The invitation to holiness and goodness comes from God himself.  As Christians, to be holy is to bring our best versions to the world. However, because we suffer from the remnants of Original Sin, it can be difficult and challenging at times to live a life of holiness. We must always remember that we have Jesus Christ as our model and strength and should never get discouraged. Even the greatest saints of the Catholic Church had their struggles and moments of weakness.

What is a saint? Who is called to be a saint? When do we receive this call?

A saint is a person who thrives to live a life of holiness with the help of God’s grace and attains the prize of eternal life (CCC 828). The word saint comes from the Latin term – sanctus, which means “holy.” Sanctification is the process where one is made holy.

All Christians are called to holiness. We are called to holiness after receiving the Sacrament of Baptism. In Baptism, we are claimed and adopted by God as his children. We are restored to the filial (sonship) relationship that was established first and foremost with the first man. In our Baptism, we receive the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. We also share in the three Old Testament offices that are fulfilled by Jesus – Priest, Prophet, and King.

To be a saint is to live a life dedicated to heroism. Heroism is about self-sacrificial deeds; it’s not about self-glorification and narcissism. It requires one to live with heroic virtue! G.K. Chesterton said, the “saints are the heroes of the Church.” Zorro has always been one of my favorite literary heroes. When I think about Zorro, the words of self-sacrifice, strength, goodness, and servant of the people come to mind. Just as Zorro is a great hero, so must we thrive to live lives dedicated to self-sacrifice, goodness, and serving others. Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, there have been many men and women who have answered the call to live lives of heroic virtue and self-sacrifice. In recent years, I think of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Blessed John Paul II, and St. Jose Maria Escriva. These men and women truly lived their lives for Jesus Christ and were filled with joy. St. Teresa of Avila said to be a saint is to live life with joy and passion – “a sad saint is not a saint at all.”

Living the life of a saint is not always the most popular lifestyle in our culture or period of history. To be a saint is to be counter-cultural just as the Church is counter-cultural. During his three-year ministry, Jesus himself was counter-cultural for he ate with sinners, spoke with woman (some became his disciples), and countered the elders of the faith.

Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix says, “Christ does not call us to be popular, or even successful. He calls us to take up the cross each day and follow him. There is only one ultimate failure in life: not to be a saint. Nothing else in life matters, compared to the treasure of Christ’s love.”

As Catholics, how do we become saints seeking holiness?

First, we must receive the Sacraments. Although all seven are fundamental, Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist can be received on a daily basis. The Sacrament of Reconciliation assists us in our relationship with Our Lord and allows us to restore our personal relationship with him when it is severed. If you have not been in some time, I encourage you to find a time and go. The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist is the life giving bread of Jesus Christ. It not only nourishes our physical body, but gives us spiritual strength as well. It is truly Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity. Next, we need spiritual direction. A director of our interior life will aid us in our prayer and help us to discern God’s will for our lives. Lastly, reading the Scriptures, Lives of the Saints, or other spiritual texts will engage us to know God in a personal way and will also assist in our relationship with Our Lord and His Church.

As Catholics who are striving to live lives of holiness, learning each day how to be saints, and living contradictory to the world around us will often bring times of hostility and persecution. We saw this in the Early Church as Christianity grew. Hostility and persecution rose up to meet Christianity and the martyrs of the Early Church were born. The word martyr comes from the Greek term – witness.  St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60). Other individuals such as St. Lawrence, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Martina of Rome, and eleven of the twelve apostles (excluding John) and many others all died the martyr’s death. In his Letter to the Romans, St. Ignatius of Antioch says about his impending martyrdom, “…Come fire, cross, battling with wild beasts…only let me get to Jesus Christ…I would rather die.”

There are two forms of martyrdom – red martyrdom and white martyrdom. Red martyrdom is witnessing to the faith where a person endures death. The Church proclaims those who are killed for the faith are baptized by blood and are directed straight to heaven. The red martyrs are genuine examples of heroic fortitude and conviction that is unparallel. White martyrdom (dry martyrdom) is social persecution rather than death. This form of martyrdom is when a person or group of persons are attacked either verbally or in writing for having a conviction of faith or when they choose not to violate their moral conscience. This is the most common form of martyrdom for us Catholics in America to date, but that could change soon.

Although the 20th century witnessed more red martyrs for the faith around the world than any other century, here in the United States white martyrdom was more common. However, in recent years and with the multiplying of the culture wars, white martyrdom has dramatically increased against Catholics in general (see Huffington Post article). With the announcement of the HHS Mandate and the so-called “compromise”, verbal and hate filled attacks have been on the rise against Catholics since we stand against this unjust law. We will not allow a tyrannical government like the Obama Administration to force us into anything that contradicts our Religious Freedom and First Amendment Rights on the grounds of “women’s health” (see yesterday’s results from the Blunt Amendment – right down party lines). We will not comply!

In the 1920’s, the government of Mexico declared war on the Catholic Church killing bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters, and lay faithful in the streets. It was terrible time for the Church in Mexico and many good and faithful people lost their lives. If the dangers we have now continue and the current administration is re-elected for four more years, Mexico from the 1920’s could appear on the shores and in the heartland of the United States.