Mother Teresa’s Lessons of Love and Secrets of Sanctity by Susan Conroy

Here are my notes from the book:

1. You did it to me = See Christ in others:

  • Her entire life’s work was founded on these words which Jesus Christ spoke: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, … Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25: 35-40).
  • The most important thing is not how many we help, but how we help each one.
  • Just begin — Mother Teresa used to say that if she had not picked up that first person from the gutters, she never would have picked up the remaining 42,000. We all have to start somewhere.
  • I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one… ~ MT.
  • MT interacted with a dying destitute in the gutter in exactly the same attentive way that she interacted with a president, a pope, or a princess. She looked upon each soul as if it had no equal, as God does.
  • “Every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is the only one person in the world for me at that moment” ~ MT.
  • God is disguised as the poor, the orphan, the dying. “Only in heaven will we see how much we owe the poor for helping us to love God better because of them”. “In the Mass we have Jesus in the appearance of bread, while in the slums we touch Him in the broken bodies and in the abandoned children”

2. The infinite value of “little things”:

  •  We are not necessarily called to do great things in the world. Only “small things with great love” .
  • “All we do is but a “drop in the ocean,” but if we did not do it, the ocean would be one drop less and that drop would be missed. “Let us meet God with a smile — everywhere we go and in everyone” ~ MT .
  • “We will never know just how much a simple smile can do” ~ MT.

3. Joy:

  • “Joy is prayer. Joy is strength. Joy is love — Joy is the net of love by which we can catch souls. We give most when we give with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and to each other is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love” ~ MT.
  • We give most when we give with joy.  Joy should be the compass by which we make our life’s decisions.  Always follow peace and joy and love.

4. Present Moment

  • “The future is not in our hands. We have no power over it… Allow the good God to make plans for the future — for yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not yet come and we have only today to make Him known, loved, and served. Our Lord told us not to fret about tomorrow, which is in God’s hands. So, do not worry about it.” ~ MT.

5. Love:

  • “Love turns work into rest” — St Teresa of Avila.
  • “Seek and find those who are suffering. Find them, love them, put your love for them into living action” ~ MT.
  • My whole purpose is to LOVE!  What matters more than our actual deeds is the amount of love we put into them.
  • “Open your hearts to the love of God which He will give you — not to keep, but to share” ~ MT.
  • “Love is always stirring and thinking about what it will do. It cannot contain itself” ~ St Teresa of Avila.
  • God does not need our work. God sees only our love. He will not ask us how many books we have read, how many miracles we have worked, but He will ask us if we have done our best for the love of Him. Do small things with great love. Love to be real must cost; it must hurt; it must empty us of self. ~ MT
  • “I know that LOVE strengthens every vocation, that love is everything, that it embraces all times and all places, because it is eternal” ~ St Therese.
  • The smallest act of pure love is more value… than all other works together ~ St John of the Cross.
  • Beg our Lord to grant you perfect love… He will give you more than you know how to desire ~ St Teresa of Avila.
  • Let us meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love ~ MT.
  • Holiness is not just for a few people, it’s for everyone, including you.  Great love, not great deeds, is the essence of sanctity ~ St Therese. “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier”. Without asking God for love, we cannot possess love and still less are we able to give it to others.

6. Patience:

  • “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage… every day begin the task anew” ~ St Francis de Sales

7. Faith and trust in God:

  • “Feel the security of divine providence. Trust Him. He knows. He will provide. Let Him test and trust our faith in Him. Wait on Him. Trust and believe” ~ MT
  • God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful. Trials help greatly to detach us from earth. They make us look to God, rather than to the world ~ St Therese

8. Prayer:

  • It is not with the noise of words, but with the longing of our hearts that God hears us ~ St Teresa of Avila.
  • My secret is quite simple. I pray ~ MT.
  • Everything starts from prayer. Love to pray, for prayer gives a clean heart. And a clean heart can see God.
  • The more you pray, the more you will love to pray; and the more you love to pray, the more you will pray.  “Pray the work”  Prayer changes our hearts.  The beginning of prayer is silence… God speaking in the silence of our heart. And then we start talking to God from the fullness of the heart. And He listens.  The beginning of prayer is Scripture… we listen to God speaking.
  • The more we receive in our silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life.  The important thing is not what we say but what God says to us and what He says through us.  How often MT asked others for prayers.

9. The Eucharist:

  • Holy Eucharist was Mother Teresa’s daily nourishment.
  • Prayer — Oh Mary, Mother of Jesus, give me your heart, so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, so full of love and humility, that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life, love Him as you love Him, and serve Him in the distressing disguise of the Poorest of the Poor. Amen.

10. Devotion to Mary:

  • giving out miraculous medals
  • “Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a Mother to me now! ~ MT

11. Humility:

  • “I understood true greatness is to be found in the soul, not in a name… It is in heaven, then, that we shall know our titles of nobility. Then shall every man have praise from God and the one who on earth wanted to be the poorest, the most forgotten out of love of Jesus, will be the first, the noblest, the richest!” ~ St Therese of Lisieux.
  • The nature of love is to humble oneself  ~ St Therese.
  • The more we empty ourselves, the more room we give God to fill us. . “That is what I am: God’s pencil… However imperfect instruments we may be, He writes beautifully. Her littleness was her greatness.” ~ MT

12. Vocation:

  • Never confuse the work with the vocation. The vocation is to belong to Jesus. The work is a result of this. They would never be able to last unless this was the focus of their life.  Alone we can do nothing, but together we can do something beautiful for God.
  • “The world of our souls is like a garden in the eyes of God… if every flower were a rose, springtime would lose its loveliness! The splendour of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of its scent, nor the daisy of its simple charm. ~ St Therese
  • Reaching out, helping, and serving others is our life’s purpose.  The family that prays together stays together.

13. Stay where you are, find your own Calcutta:

  • The real culture shock is not going to India, but coming back home from India! You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by the society — completely forgotten, completely left alone. That is the greatest poverty of the rich countries ~ MT Stay where you are, find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and schools. ~ MT

14. Perfect charity:

  • It is easy to love people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.

15. Money:

  • Money is only useful if it serves to spread God’s love.  If God wants me to do something, He gives me the money. If He doesn’t give me the money, He doesn’t want me to do it. So why worry? Only that which is eternal can satisfy us ~ St Therese

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