So I think what you priests have — it’s difficult to express but please, give us Jesus! We are hungry for Him. Give us Jesus. Teach us how to love Jesus; how to come closer to Jesus — and we will be able to teach others. We cannot give what we don’t have. But, you and I, we are not meant to be social workers. We may be doing social work, but we are not social workers. We are real contemplatives in the heart of the world. Why? Because we are present all 24 hours.
Hunger is not only for a piece of bread. Hunger is for that love you have here in the United States. We have some 200 people in New York that we feed and another 70 or so here in Washington that we feed; but that’s a small amount. Just now 5 million people are facing hunger because there has been no rain in Ethiopia. And in India we have many like that. But even here there is a hunger. When I find a man hungry in the street, I give him bread or a bit of rice or something; but when I visit a shopping mall in a big city like London or here, I still see the need for a tender, persevering compassion. What I can hear in the shoutings is the loneliness; people are so hurt, so painful inside.
Homelessness is not only
FOR A HOUSE MADE OF BRICKS
That is where priests and you and I need to bring Jesus. Nakedness is not only for a piece of cloth. We have stripped away from the poor their dignity. We have so many adjectives for the poor. We think they’re good-for-nothing, they’re lazy, they’re this, they’re that. We have taken away their dignity. Homelessness is not only for a house made of bricks. It’s also that having been rejected, unwanted, unloved ... it’s a terrible feeling!
Sometime ago, I picked up a child from the street — her eyes — you’d think they’d come out with hunger! Shining black hungry eyes. I gave her a piece of bread. The little one took that bread crumb by crumb. I said, ‘Eat, eat the bread.” The little girl looked at me and said, “I’m afraid when the bread will be finished, I will be hungry again.” So, to prolong the eating, she kept on eating crumb by crumb. I’m sure none of you have had that experience; but I’ve seen it again and again and again! People coming to the gate, “Mother, you come — my husband, my child!”; terrible, terrible hunger. You don’t know this hunger. I don’t know this hunger.
We don’t know what’s the pain in deep hunger. That’s why it is necessary for us to share that pain through prayer and also through penance. Let us share something of the goods God has given us.
Especially you priests, come to know your poor in your parishes. They may not be poor for money. For some families there’s so much disturbance. I know that many are so rich; but terrible things do happen: broken homes, so much hurt, people starving for God. So, I beg of you, let us pray together and let us make this beautiful resolution: no parish, no community, no home — will anybody ever feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for.
When you come home after you have seen so much suffering, you want somehow to share in that terrible passion of Christ
To be able to do that, we need that closeness, that oneness with Jesus. We need a life of prayer. We need a life of penance. In our Congregation, we lead a life of prayer and penance because when we go out and see the people suffering like that; naturally we want to do something. The Passion of Christ is being relived again and again in the suffering of the people. So, for us in our Congregation, we still take the discipline; we still wear the chains. We try to share the Passion of Christ, We need that!
When you come home after you have seen so much suffering, you want somehow to share in that terrible passion of Christ. And this is something you can do. Priests especially: you see that terrible spiritual suffering of the people; and you are the only one who can pay the price. You can obtain the grace of peace for that family or for that person. And so, I have a very great love for our priests, because I think they are so clearly Jesus in our lives. Help us to help our people to grow in holiness’ Help us to bring Jesus into their lives. Together let us obtain grace for families.
Something that has helped us is consecration to the Sacred Heart. It has helped us a lot. Lately, for the last two years or so, on the eve of first Fridays, we’ve been having that adoration from 11 to 12 at night.
Also on first Fridays, we don’t have lunch. Instead of cooking the lunch for ourselves and eating the lunch for ourselves, we take that lunch money to help repair the houses of the people, or we buy shoes or books or something for some poor family. We don’t keep that money. This has brought us so close to the heart of Jesus. And this consecration also brings wonderful gifts to our families. So much change has come in the families that even the Hindu families come to Mother, “Why don’t you consecrate our family also?” So we have prepared a small prayer for them, so that we can consecrate them to God. The priests have been wonderful in working with the sisters in this consecration. I think it is a wonderful thing.
One thing I would ask from you, sisters: I beg of you. Learn to teach the people natural family planning. This would help the people not to have abortions. The evil of abortion is a nightmare. The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion. We are fighting abortion by adoption. I’ve sent word to all the hospitals, clinics, police stations: just do not destroy the child; give us the child. There are many such children. There’s a joke going around that says: Mother Teresa is the whole time talking about family planning and abortion, yet she herself is not practicing family planning at all — she is getting more and more children!
But it is a wonderful thing, so I beg of you, learn this. In every parish teach the people: We nuns are the best people to teach them. Why? Because we have a vow of chastity. And natural family planning is nothing but self-control of the will. This is what our poor people have told us, “Sisters, please teach us because you who have the vow of chastity are the best people to teach us natural family planning.” So, I beg of you, please give at least one or two nuns from every community to learn how to spread this. You will see the peace and the joy that will come into that family. You will be able to save so much sin and misery.
Let us pray for each other today, for it is a need of the times. Holy Father is very anxious that we do this beautiful work; especially for unwed mothers also. He has given us a beautiful house in Rome for unwed mothers. And I hope we can do something together here for the girls also. So let us pray.
The most important thing is that we cannot give what we do not have. We cannot help people to holiness if we are not holy. It is there, for that reason, I would ask you: let us pray for the poor people. The closer I get to the poor people, from what I understand, the more I see that I receive much more than I give to them. I have received tremendous graces from my poor people. So let us ask God to give us the opportunity to understand that presence of Christ, for He has said, “You did it, to Me!”
WE MAY BE DOING SOCIAL WORK, BUT WE ARE NOT SOCIAL WORKERS. WE ARE REAL CONTEMPLATIVES IN THE HEART OF THE WORLD.