Love, a Fruit Always in Season
The first steps to holiness
Holiness consists in accomplishing the will of God with a cheerful heart... The first step to holiness is the will to become holy. Through a firm and upright will, we love God, we choose God, we hasten to God, we reach Him, we have Him.
Holiness is not a luxury
Holiness is not a luxury reserved for the little number, it is a simple duty for you and me; so then, let us be holy as our Father in heaven is holy. Saint Thomas said, "Holiness is nothing more than firm resolve" — the heroic act of a person who abandons himself to God.
Our progress in holiness depends upon God and upon us, upon the grace of God and upon our will to become holy. We must have the lively and authentic determination to reach holiness. "I will be a saint" means, "I will divest myself of all that is not God, I will empty my heart of all created things, I will live in poverty and detachment, I will deny my will, my penchants, my whims, my fantasies, and I will make myself a willing slave, submitted to the will of God.
Fidelity in the little things
Nothing can make us holy except the presence of God... And for me, the presence of God lies in fidelity in the little things.
We cannot accomplish great things — just little ones, with great love. The Sisters do little things: they help children, they visit the lonely, the sick, the unwanted. When someone tells me that the Sisters have not undertaken any great work, that they are doing little things calmly, I answer that even if they helped only one person, that would suffice. Jesus would have died for a single person, a single sinner.
That Christ may live in us
We must become holy not because we want to feel that we are holy, but because Christ must be capable of living His life fully in us. We must be all love, all faith, all purity... I pray that each one of you may be holy, and thus may spread the love of God everywhere you go. May His light of truth be in the life of each person, in such a way that God may continue to love the world through you and me.
The poor are the hope of the world
The poor are the gift of God; they are our love. Christ will not ask what quantity of labor we have accomplished, but how much love we have put into it. Many people are spiritually poor. The spiritual poverty that prevails in Europe and America is a heavy burden. In these countries, it is very hard to pin a meaning on the love of God. The poor are "the hope." With their courage, they truly represent the hope of the world. They have taught us in a different way to love God, by bringing us to do all that we can to help them.
What can we do with too much money?
When we have money, we lose contact with God... What can we do with too much money? Put it in the bank? We must never get into the habit of being preoccupied with the future. There is no reason to be preoccupied with it: God is there. When the desire for money comes, with it comes the desire for the things money can provide: superfluous objects, beautiful rooms, luxurious food on our table, more clothes, admirers, etc. Our needs increase, and, because one thing leads to another, the consequence is endless dissatisfaction.
Smothered by material things
Here in America... it is easy to let yourself get smothered by material things. Once you have them, you have to devote time to take care of them. And then you have no time for one another or for the poor. We must give liberally to the poor... Money is useful only if it is used to spread the love of Christ. Money can be used for feeding the famished Christ. But he is not only hungry for bread, but for love, for a presence, for human contact.
It is not a sin to be rich. If certain people can treat themselves to living well, they must have a reason for it... But I tell you that riches lead to avarice, and that is where sin comes in. God gives riches, and it is our duty to share them with those who are less favored.
("Do you ever get angry? Are you sometimes frustrated?" a reporter asked Mother Teresa.)
Yes... I get angry sometimes when I see waste, when wasted things are the things that people need, the things that could keep them from dying. Frustrated? No, never.
Is God going to go bankrupt in New York?
I don't want to work to become an enterprise, but to remain a work of love. I want you to have total confidence that God will never abandon us. Take Him at His word: Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all the rest will come to you besides. Joy, peace and unity are more important than money. If God wants me to do something, He will give me the money to do it. I refused an offer from Cardinal Cooke: five hundred dollars a month for each Sister working in Harlem. I told him, "Eminence, do you think God is going to go bankrupt in New York?" Money... I don't think about it. It always comes. The Lord sends it. We are accomplishing His work. He provides the means. If He does not give us the means, that proves that He does not want the work, so why worry about it?
Love is proved by acts
Love does not live by words, and words cannot explain it — especially the kind of love that serves Him, that comes from Him (Jesus)... We must reach the heart, and to reach the heart as we must — love is proved by acts...
Perhaps just a smile, a little visit, or the simple fact of lighting a fire for someone, writing a letter for a blind person, taking over a few pieces of charcoal, finding a pair of shoes, reading for someone; it's not much, yes, it is really very little, but it will be our love of God in action.
Not quantity but love
Never think that a little gesture for your neighbor is not a great thing. It is not the quantity of what we do that is pleasing to God, but the quantity of love we put into it. That's what God is looking for — because He is love, and He created us in His image, to love and be loved.
Ordinary things with extraordinary love
Teach your children to pray, and pray with them. Jesus became the Bread of Life to give us His life, so that we could become like Him. From now on, let us become holy like Jesus, full of compassion and humility for one another; because by loving one another, we love Him. How do we love? Not in great things, but in the little things with great love. When the Little Flower was canonized, the Holy Father said, "She did ordinary things with extraordinary love."
Wanting to do something else
If the work entrusted to you is really yours, then you must do it with your whole heart. And you are not capable of bringing salvation except by being honest and working really for God. It is not the quantity of what we do that is important, but the quantity of love, honesty and faith that we put into it. It makes no difference what we do. I can't do what you do, and you can't do what I do. But all of us and each one of us are doing what God has given us to do. Only sometimes we forget and spend more time looking at someone else and wanting to do something else.
The vocation of working with lepers?
A few weeks ago, one of our brothers came to see me in despair, and he said, "My vocation is to work with lepers. (He loves lepers.) I want to give all my life, all I own and all I am for that vocation." I said to him, "You're mistaken, brother. Your vocation is to belong to Jesus. He has chosen you for Himself. Your work is only the concretization of your love for Him. And that is why it is not important what work you do. What is essential is that you belong to Him, that you are His, and that He gives you the means to accomplish this for Him.
Let God use you without consulting you...
Let God use you without consulting you. Let the Lord capture you... Let yourself be captured by Him, and let Him dispose of you completely. We are neither big nor small, but we are what we are in the sight of God; and to the degree that we abandon ourselves totally, God can use us without consulting us. We like being consulted, but letting Him use us without consulting us is very good for us. We must accept emptiness, accept to be pounded to bits, accept success as well as failure.
A merciful God and suffering
(A reporter asked: "How can a merciful God tolerate such suffering, children dying of hunger, people killed in earthquakes?... What do you have to say about that?")
...All that suffering — where would the world be without it? It is the suffering of innocent people, and it is like the suffering of Jesus. He suffered for us, and all the suffering of innocent people is joined to His in the Redemption. It is a coredemption. It contributes to sparing the world the most terrible calamities...
I often wonder what would happen to the world if innocent people did not suffer so much. They are the ones who are interceding all the time. Their innocence is so pleasing to God. By accepting to suffer, they intercede for us.
Why must people die of hunger?
If some of our poor have had to die of hunger, it is not because God did not care for them, but because you and I did not give, were not instruments of love in God's hands to give them bread and clothing; because we did not recognize Christ when He came one more time in His disguise of distress. We did not recognize Him in the famished, the lonely, the abandoned child looking for a home... The suffering of some can be attributed to the greed of others.
Accept the gift of suffering
Today, the world is an "open-pit Calvary." Mental and physical suffering are everywhere. Pain and suffering will come into your life, but remember: pain, distress and suffering are only the kiss of Jesus — signs that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you. Accept them as gifts — all for Jesus. You are really reliving the Passion of Christ, from now on accept Jesus just as He enters into your life. Battered, divided, full of pains and wounds.
The greatest suffering
There is a lot of suffering in the world — an enormous amount. And material suffering means to suffer hunger, suffer from having no shelter, suffer from all sorts of diseases, but I still think that the greatest suffering is to be alone, to feel unloved, to simply have no one. I have reached the point of becoming more and more aware of the fact that the worst suffering a human being can experience is to be unwanted.
Peace begins with a smile
Let us not use bombs or guns to conquer the world. Let us use love and compassion. Peace begins with a smile — smile a hundred times a day at someone you don't really feel like smiling at — do it for peace. In this way we will spread the peace of God, and in this way we will shine with His light, and in the world and in the hearts of all men we will snuff out all hatred and all love of power.
More place for God
...The more we empty ourselves, the more place we leave for God to fill us up... The more you forget yourself, the more Jesus will think of you. The more you detach yourself from yourself, the more Jesus will attach Himself to you... It is not the quantity of what we "have" to give (that counts), but the degree of emptiness we have reached, so as to receive Him fully in our life and let Him live His life in us.
The Spirit pours love, peace and joy into our lives to the point that we empty ourselves of our vanity, our anger, our ambitions, to the point that we stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and to the point that we are ready to carry the Cross of Christ on our shoulders.
...Riches, material or spiritual ones, sometimes smother us when we do not use them rightly... So remain as "empty" as possible, so that God may fill you up. Even God cannot fill up something that is already full. He does not impose Himself upon us... I have to empty myself of all selfishness to let God fill me with His love.
Taken from: Love, a Fruit Always in Season, by Mother Teresa (Roseau: Canada, 1986).