The book that I often cannot stand

Posted on September 5, 2010

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Whenever I scan my book shelves, I often try to play blind to that book on the quotes of Mother Teresa. The book disturbs me. Mother Teresa’s words and deeds are radical examples of self-denial, love for God and solidarity with the poor, which are so difficult to reason against because she was, after all, the “living saint.”

Here are some of the more bothering quotes from “Mother Teresa: In My Own Words.”

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

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I believe it was Saint Vincent de Paul who used to say to those who wanted to join his congregation: “Never forget, my children, that the poor are our masters. That is why we should love them and serve them, with utter respect, and do what they bid us.”

Do you not believe that it can happen, on the other hand, that we treat the poor like they are a garbage bag in which we throw everything we have no use for? Food we do not like or that is going bad — we throw it there.

Perishable goods past their expiration date, and which might harm us, go in the garbage bag: in other words, go to the poor. An article of clothing that is not in style anymore, that we do not want to wear again, goes to the poor.

This does not show any respect for the dignity of the poor; this is not to consider them our masters, like Saint Vincent de Paul taught his religious, but to consider them less than our equals.

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I will never tire of repeating this: what the poor need the most is not pity but love. They need to feel respect for their human dignity, which is neither less nor different from the dignity of any other human being.

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We cannot allow God’s creatures to end their days in a creek, like animals.

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To help us be worthy of heaven, Christ put as a condition that at the hour of death, you and I, regardless of who we were (Christians or non-Christians, each human being has been created by the loving hand of God in his own likeness), will stand before God and be judged according to how we have acted toward the poor (Mt 25, 40).

As we begin a new week, we pray for the grace to understand what exactly the Lord demands from us in our respective states of life. Not all of us are called to be priests or nuns, as Mother Teresa was, but the Lord meets us where we are and gives each person a general and specific mission. We are all ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5, 20); let us ask Him what He wants us to do for the poor right here and right now.

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