Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 19 September |
Our Lady of La Salette
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Mother Teresa’s Special Law of Love

Denise Krebs

Heather King - published on 05/13/14

Jesus isn’t going to ask if we memorized our Catechism, but if we were willing to share our last crust of bread.

In solitude on the Central Coast of California recently, I read a book called The Love That Made Mother Teresa by David Scott. Scott happens to be Vice Chancellor for Communications at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the book is subtitled “How Her Secret Visions and Dark Nights Can Help You Conquer the Slums of Your Heart.”

The book is simply written, accessible, and anecdotal. Scott beautifully captures the strangeness and paradox of the life of a saint. Mother Teresa lived to see the global reach of the internet and social media, yet the biographical details of her own youth and even adult life remain shrouded in mystery. She shunned the limelight but suffered the intrusions of photographers and TV cameras, offering up her discomfort for love of the poor. She kissed the leper, and she also dined with and accepted money from dictators.

Like Christ, in other words, she resisted identifying herself with either the right or the left. Like Christ, she fed the poor and she also knew that man does not live by bread alone. “Visiting one of her missionary outposts in Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico, a slum where people lived in huts of corrugated metal and plywood and breathed the foul stench of factory waste and diesel fumes, she asked the people what their greatest need was. One man spoke for the rest. ‘La palabra de Dios,’ he said simply—the Word of God.”

Like many of us, perhaps, I struggle with the meaning of the New Evangelization. Evangelize to what? I sometimes wonder. Evangelize to whom? What does conversion even mean? I can be following the rules to a T, but when was the last time I wept at the trill of a bird, or a branch against the sky at dusk, or an unfurling leaf? When’s the last time I forgave someone? When’s the last time I apologized to someone? How intensely does my heart yearn? How willing am I to suffer? Those are things that can’t be measured or analyzed or reduced to a stat.

As a person who writes, blogs, and speaks of my faith I have to take care that, in an effort to get readers, I don’t try to make religion “palatable”: respectable, homogenized, non-threating, non-stimulating, safe, secure, an extension of and indistinguishable from the culture at large. I get to call people to an adventure. But to do that, I have to be living the adventure myself. I have to be living in a certain kind of precariousness.

Mother Teresa owned little more than a sari and a Bible. Clearly, she was squarely behind, with, and grounded in Christ. Yet in one of the most striking passages of the book, Scott notes:

Making converts to Jesus, however, was not her focus. Rather, she tried to make converts to love. Only God can change a person’s heart, she would say. Her job was to love—to radiate the love of Christ and, through her works of love, to how people God’s love for them. By her love, she hoped to draw men and women near to God. For there, she said, it’s up to God to take people the rest of the way.

How ego-deflating: We don’t evangelize; God does. Conversion is a mysterious, usually long, slow process that is entirely out of our hands. As soon as we think we’re doing the converting, that we have a special mission to convert, a kind of competitive edge can creep into our thoughts and heart.

Scott continues:

‘We bear witness to the love of God’s presence,” [Mother Teresa] said, ‘and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this reason better men—simply better—we will be satisfied. Growing up in love they will be nearer to God and will find him in his goodness.’

The Way, the Truth, the Life, is love. Not prosperity, or high numbers, or the restoration of health as Mother Teresa, whose Home for Dying Destitutes in Calcutta was hard by the funeral pyre, knew well. The law is love.

  • 1
  • 2
Tags:
FaithJesus ChristMother Teresa

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
2
ARGENTINE CHILDREN
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
3
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
4
RESURRECTION
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
5
Kathleen N. Hattrup
On same-sex unions, Pope says Church doesn’t have power to change...
6
Mathilde De Robien
How a lost masterpiece of sacred art was discovered thanks to chi...
7
communion
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.