Saint Teresa of Calcutta knew that love, compassion, and mercy begins at home. Family, she always maintained, was the cornerstone of holiness and goodness. The following text was written by Mother Teresa herself.
Find at least one good point in the other person and build from there. In the family, you should thank each other, mentioning the good you have seen others do. In short, an understanding love—a love that sees the good in others—will be our goal.
We are commanded to love God and our neighbor equally, without difference. We don’t have to look for the opportunities to fill this command, they’re all around us, twenty-four hours a day. You must open your eyes wide so that you can see the opportunities to give wholehearted, free service right where you are, in your family. If you don’t give such service in your family, you will not be able to give it to those outside your home.
All over the world, there is terrible suffering, terrible hunger for love. So bring prayer into your family, bring it to your children. Teach them to pray, for a child who prays is a happy child. A family that prays is a united family. We hear of so many broken families. Why are they broken? I think because they never pray together. They are never one in prayer before the Lord.
The Holy Family consisted of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, not just Jesus alone. For the family to be complete, it was necessary to have Joseph the carpenter alongside the greatness of Jesus and the spotlessness of Mary. So, too, in our churches, several people may be very capable but they do not make up the community. We need others to complete the team.
Encourage true devotion to the Sacred Heart and the family rosary. Encourage the Catholic families to be consecrated to the Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. See that they have a holy picture, however small, in their homes. Strive to keep families together, remembering the saying, “The family that prays together, stays together.” There are many broken homes, but our work is to bring Jesus to the poor and to show them how to bring everything to him in prayer.
Our first great responsibility is to be a family, a community, revealing first to one another something of God’s own love and concern and tenderness. ‘See how they love one another.’ Being so close to each other it is possible to miss God’s love and goodness that is to be found in those who are so near to us. We need to help each other to forget the everyday deficiencies and to start a new life every day in the joy of Jesus.
In our Missionaries of Charity community, our first great responsibility is to be a family, a community, revealing first to one another something of God’s own love and concern and tenderness. “See how they love one another.” Being so close to each other it is possible to miss God’s love and goodness that is to be found in those who are so near to us. We need to help each other to forget the everyday deficiencies and to start a new life every day in the joy of Jesus.
More and more, make your homes places of love and peace. Don’t let the devil cheat you by his evil ways, tempting you to be unkind and harsh to one another. Enjoy each other. Love one another as Jesus has loved you. “See how they love each other,” Jesus said. Let us be faithful to his teaching. Do not spoil the work of God by your unkindness. How can you love Jesus in others unless you love him in your own family? We must make a real effort to make our families one heart of love. This is really the sign of Jesus with us.
Be all for Jesus and with Jesus and you will be happy and holy throughout the year. Give yourselves over to prayer and close union with God and to a deep, joyful charity. Be a true follower of God in thought, word, and deed: if you do this in your family, it will overflow to all. Let each of us make one strong resolution: “I will not commit a single venial sin against charity this year.”
This is an excerpt from the book Thirsting for God: Daily Meditations, edited by Angelo D. Scolozzi, M.C.III.O., a close associate of Mother Teresa. He is the cofounder, with Mother Teresa, of the universal fraternity of the Word—Missionaries of Charity Third Order, M.C.III.O.