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Mother Teresa (1910-1997) joined the Roman Catholic church as a nun at a very early age. She came to India when she was eighteen. She spent many years in Calcutta. She began to work as a religious teacher and later founded ‘The Missionaries of Charity’. She devoted her entire life helping the poor and the needy. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. This is the speech she delivered after receiving the prize.
Poverty and Love
Mother Teresa begins her Nobel lecture with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. She thanks God for the opportunity that they were all gathered there together that day. God sent his son Jesus Christ to bring peace to the world and help the poor. Humans were all created in the image of God, to love and to be loved.
Mother Teresa talks of an experience she had while visiting an old-age home. It was very luxurious, but everyone looked very sad. This was because they were hurt to be forgotten by their own children, who had left them there. Therefore, poverty and neglect of love can happen in our very homes.
In the West, many young children have taken up drugs because their parents have no time for them. Mother Teresa thinks the greatest destroyer of peace in the modern world is abortion because it is a direct murder by the mother herself. She says that adoption is an alternative to abortion and many children can be saved in this way, even if their mothers do not want them.
In Calcutta, there have been less babies from poor families who have practised a natural way of abstaining and self-control. This is better than destroying life through abortion, according to Mother Teresa. The poor people are very great people who can teach us many great things such as this self-control of love. They are also very grateful and give us their grateful love. Mother Teresa talks of a sick girl that she took care of in Calcutta. The girl just uttered one word before her death- thank you.
Mother Teresa believes that the Missionaries of Charity are not just social workers but people who think deeply about the world. There are many problems around us, but love will be able to overcome all the evil in the world. Love and sacrifice begin at home. It is not what we do, but how much love we put into the action that we do, that matters.
The Joy of Sharing
Mother Teresa recalls that some time ago, there was great scarcity of sugar in Calcutta. A young Hindu boy stopped eating sugar for three days so he could give it to Mother Teresa for her children. This little boy knew how to share his love. In another incident, Mother Teresa took rice to a starving Hindu family with eight children. Before eating, the mother of the family took some of the rice to share with their Muslim neighbours. They took joy in sharing the little rice they had. Therefore, love begins at home.
Mother Teresa thanks God for the opportunity of bringing them all together, because together they will be able to help children not only in India and Africa, but all over the world. With this prize of peace that she had received, she would try to make homes for people who have no home. This is because love begins at home, and creating homes for the poor means more and more love will spread.
Mother Teresa says that to be able to do this, their lives must be one with prayer. There is so much suffering in the world, and the Sisters must share that suffering with the people. The poverty of the West, the poverty of being unloved and lonely, is as hard to solve as the poverty of poor countries.
Mother Teresa says that we should always meet each other with a smile, because the smile is the beginning of love. We must remain faithful to God and love and serve him through the poor people of the world. Mother Teresa does not want us to share from our abundance, but to share until it hurts.
She mentions an old man who had been bedridden for 20 years. His only pleasure was smoking. However, he gave up smoking for a week to donate the money to the needy. Sacrifice makes the joy of sharing things greater.
Mother Teresa says she will never forget the fourteen professors from the United States who came to visit the Missionaries of Charity house in Calcutta. They visited the house of the dying where the Sisters had picked up dying people from the streets of Calcutta so they could have a beautiful and peaceful death.
Here, one of the professors asked Mother Teresa to tell them something that they would remember. She told them to smile, to make time for their family, and to smile at each other. Another person asked her if she was married, and she said she was, to the service of Jesus Christ.
Mother Teresa says that we must live life beautifully because we have Jesus with us and he loves us. God loves us, and we must love others in the same way. She thanks the Norwegian people for the Nobel Peace Prize, and prays that God will bless all of us.
Mother Teresa imparts a message of love. She insists that the happiness of humanity depends on universal love. She puts great emphasis on a smile, for as she says, “Smile is the beginning of love.” She teaches us about the joy of sharing and helps us understand how love begins at home.