Blessed Teresa of Kolkata is pictured in 1992. CNS photo/Michael Collopy

Words to live by

  • September 1, 2016

Only a handful of Catholics are quoted more often than Mother Teresa. Even today, 19 years after her death, the words of the saintly sister still resonate whenever the topic is mercy and compassion.

It was not her words, though, that propelled Mother Teresa’s canonization. She will become St. Teresa of Calcutta on Sept. 4 in recognition of a lifetime of holiness as expressed in her selfless sacrifice to serve the poor and suffering. It is fitting that she joins the canon of saints during this Year of Mercy because she personified the corporal works of mercy in her life’s mission to provide shelter, food, drink, clothing and care for the weak and forgotten.

She was a profound woman, both in the humble way she lived and in the faithful way she spoke. Her example showed us how to be merciful and her words told us how.

She continues to be quoted, paraphrased and sometimes misquoted to the point that it can be a challenge to know if even the most repeated words of Mother Teresa are totally accurate. But what is consistently authentic is her message: to give, to care, to love your neighbour.

So we will give the rest of this space to St. Teresa of Calcutta, to speak in her own words. We can’t do better than the words she lived by:

“God didn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.”

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”

“I’m like a little pencil in His hand. That’s all.”

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

“If a mother can kill her own child, then what is left of the West to be destroyed?”

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”

“People are unrealistic, illogical, and self-centred. Love them anyway.”

“I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.”

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

“I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things that we could use.”

“Live simply so others may simply live.”

“The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.”

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