Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Wednesday 14 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Hadewych of Meer
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

Valuable advice from Mother Teresa on how to get closer to holiness


Manfredo Ferrari | CC BY-SA 4.0

Edifa - published on 10/02/20

You can get close enough to touch it just by respecting certain important steps explained by St. Teresa of Calcutta. 

As part of his pastoral program for the third-millennial Christian, Pope John Paul II proposed a “high level of ordinary Christian life” that is holy. But how do we get there? Mother Teresa revealed her recipe.

The two stages to holiness

It was in Calcutta. With a mischievous smile, Mother Teresa showed us her two hands and invited us to count our fingers. On our right hand: “I / want / through the grace of God / to be / a saint!”; and then with the left: “You / have / done this/ within / me!” Then she put her hands together and, raising them to the sky, added “It is done!”

Mother Teresa explained that the first step toward holiness is, naturally, to want to be a saint: “It all depends on these few words: ‘I want’ or ‘I don’t want’.” She continued: “Saying ‘I want to be a saint’ means ‘I’m going to leave behind everything that is not God … I am going to give up my own will, my preferences, my fantasies, my instability; with all my will I am going to love God, I am going to choose what he would choose, I am going to run toward Him, I am going to reach Him and I am going to possess Him.’”


Read more:
12 Tips from Mother Teresa to inspire your daily life

She wrote: “I believe that there is no other person in the world who needs the help and grace of God as much as I do. I feel so poor and weak.” Jesus would, in fact, confirm the impression she had of herself: “You are, I know, the most incapable, weak, and sinful person, but that is exactly why I want to use you for my glory. Will you refuse?” Once you have the desire, and have accepted and offered your poverty, God can then achieve within us, by the power of his grace, infinitely more than what we could ask for or even conceive (Ephesians3:20).

Accept the smile Jesus sends you

This intersection between nature and grace is still a mystery. On the one hand, we risk falling into quietism, passively waiting for the miracle that will transform our lives. On the other, we practice an energetic and exhausting voluntarism, often without much success! A more appropriate way to say it would be: “It is not just God and man, grace and freedom, but rather God through man, grace through freedom.” In other words: “Act as if everything depended on you, knowing that it really depends on God (St. Ignatius). In the Litany of the Saints, we pray: “O God, You are glorified in the assembly of saints; and when you crown their merits, You crown your own gifts.”

There was a group of professors from the United States who visited Mother Teresa, and they asked her: “Tell us something that will help us in life!” And she responded: “Smile at each other!” And she explained that she had to make an effort to keep a serious tone when “another one asked me: ‘Are you married?’ and I told him: ‘Yes, and sometimes it is very difficult for me to smile at Jesus because He can be very demanding at times.’” And our saint concludes: “Holiness does not consist of doing extraordinary things. It means accepting what Jesus sends us with a smile. It consists of acceptingGod’s will.”

Father Nicolas Buttet


Read more:
Mother Teresa’s simple (really simple!) trick for becoming closer to Jesus

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 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
Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
A simple test to see if you really believe Christ is risen
Cerith Gardiner
11 Interesting facts about the late Prince Philip
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
St. Faustina’s coffee cup and lessons for Divine Mercy Sund...
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
Here’s how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at home
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
See More