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Heart of Joy by Mother Teresa > Part 2: Chapter 7, Serving the Poor and Chapter 8, Dear Sisters

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message 1: by Manny (last edited Oct 01, 2017 05:50PM) (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3914 comments Mod
Summary:

Chapter 7 is a speech to a gathering of co-workers and chapter 8 contain a collection of talks Mother Teresa gave her fellow Missionaries of Charity. Both chapters seem to collect aphorisms, precepts, and axioms from the future saint, presented in random order which has the effect of a collage. While no single piece of a collage creates a portrait, the sum total of the collage draws a portrait of Mother Teresa through her thoughts and values. We see what makes her tick: her devotion to the poor, her tireless and ceaseless work, her merging with Christ and seeing Christ in the suffering. We see how she puts her faith into action.


message 2: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments Manny wrote: "Summary:

Chapter 7 is a speech to a gathering of co-workers and chapter 8 contain a collection of talks Mother Teresa gave her fellow Missionaries of Charity. Both chapters seem to collect aphoris..."


The intro to Chapter 7 seemed to suggest these came from a speech at a specific place and time, but I suspect you are right, that these are a collection of comments and statements throughout the conference that is referenced. That makes more sense.


message 3: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments "May no one ever come to you without going away better and happier. Everyone should see kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile."

So much else of what Mother Teresa says leaves me wondering how I put it into effect in my life. But this I can do. Or at least, start to improve upon.


message 4: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3914 comments Mod
John wrote: "Manny wrote: "Summary:

Chapter 7 is a speech to a gathering of co-workers and chapter 8 contain a collection of talks Mother Teresa gave her fellow Missionaries of Charity. Both chapters seem to c..."


Yes, the chapter seems to be divided into two parts. I can't make heads or tails of it.


message 5: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3914 comments Mod
This passage really caught my eye.. This comes from chapter eight. This is one particular statement, titled in the book as “The Oil and the Lamp.”

"Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired.

How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. If the drops of oil run out, the light of the lamp will cease, and the bridegroom will say, “I do not know you” (Mt 25:1-13).

My daughters, what are these drops of oil in our lamps? They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, punctuality, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. These are the true drops of love that keep your religious life burning like a lively flame.

Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves. He is not out there; he is in you. Keep your lamp burning, and you will recognize him."

The Biblical passage alluded to is the parable of the ten virgins, half who have run out of oil for their lamps and cannot meet the bridegroom. What I find remarkable here is that Mother Teresa considers the oil that burns the lamp to be our little efforts of love and faith. Those efforts are little drops of oil into the lamp. And therefore it’s what brings light to the dark places of life. I would read this passage to coincide with her order’s purpose, which she quotes a few pages later: “A Missionary of Charity is a messenger of God’s love, a living lamp that offers its light to all, and the salt of the earth. We are to take Christ to those places where he has not been taken yet.”


message 6: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments Again these two talks appear to me to have been edited. We have no introduction or conclusion by Mother Teresa. We have short sections, each titled, but never connected. It appears that the editor took various paragraphs from her talk and recorded them, those comments the editor felt were most edifying. It is possible that the editor felt that Mother Teresa rambled or included too much repetition, or something else. But, neither of these feel as if they are complete speeches.

I am finding this very repetitious of what we saw last week. That is not uncommon for a speaker. She gave these to different audiences. And, I have read that a homilist has 3 themes that is repeated over and over. If that is true of someone addressing the same congregation week after week, it must be even more true of someone going to different audiences.

This might be more powerful for me if I did read this devotionally, one little section a day. But, I read the entire 50 pages yesterday afternoon. Given our reading schedule, that is the only way I can do it.


message 7: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments I would like to thank Lisa and Kerstin for the suggestion and comments about doing this more as a devotional reading. I had read most of Chapter 7 on Sunday after finishing another book and then finished it and started on Chapter 8. That's just how I normally read. After reading their comments I realized that I have an entire week to read this, that there is no reason to "get it over with" and move on to the next book. So I've divided the last dozen pages or so of Chapter 8 into bite size pieces and will read one of those each morning. I think I will get more out of it that way.


message 8: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments "In these times of development, the whole world runs and is hurried. But there are some who fall down on the way and have no strength to go ahead. These are the ones we should care about."

There are two types of falling, it seems to me: material and spiritual. And while the world excels at reducing material want (the reduction in world poverty in the last three decades is mind boggling), it does so at a tremendous cost of spiritual poverty. Or at least it seems so to me.


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan | 196 comments John wrote: ""In these times of development, the whole world runs and is hurried. But there are some who fall down on the way and have no strength to go ahead. These are the ones we should care about."

There a..."


Certainly seems so.....


message 10: by Colleen (new)

Colleen (colleenisterrific) | 21 comments Just wanted to chime in with one of my favorite quotes from "Dear Sisters." It is on page 93.

"Words that do not spread the light of Christ increase the darkness." Definitely a good reminder as I prayerfully consider the ramifications of my words and actions. It may seem as if a snide comment doesn't have much bearing on the world, but it can do quite the opposite. And that is also the case for a kind word- a kind word can make a person's entire day.

This was the case for me today when an older gentleman today introduced himself at Adoration. Its been hard to make friends/connections in this area, so a kind word truly meant a lot to me.


message 11: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3914 comments Mod
I remembered that quote Colleen. I'm not one to have snide comments in person, but no question I can be snarky on the internet. It's certainly something I need to improve on.

Well, God bless that gentleman. His light spread light to you and you then onto here! God bless you too!


message 12: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1435 comments Mod
John wrote: "There are two types of falling, it seems to me: material and spiritual. And while the world excels at reducing material want (the reduction in world poverty in the last three decades is mind boggling), it does so at a tremendous cost of spiritual poverty. Or at least it seems so to me."

There seems to be a reciprocity at work here. The more one has to rely on God, to trust God in providing for the most basic things, the stronger faith is. In many situations it isn't the unwillingness to work hard, but lack of education and socioeconomic structures that hold people in poverty. Once these barriers are broken and people move out of it, self-reliance and accomplishment takes a bigger role, and trust in God takes on a smaller role. Maybe not for the first or even second generation, the memory of the hardships of the past are still very present and the effort it took to get out of it. But definitely for third generation who takes the better life for granted.

The reverse is also true, when folks fall into hardships, faith increases. Not all that long ago I read that in parts of France the churches are full again. I was rather surprised at that. I mentioned it in a conversation I had with my mother who lives in Germany. She replied, "It's no longer so good for them." Meaning, economically things have gotten harder.


message 13: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3914 comments Mod
I've had that thought too Kerstin. It's one of the arguments I've used as to why does God allows hardships and catastrophes to happen. So that we turn to Him and to instill in us a compassion for our neighbors, In short, so we can love God and love our neighbors.


message 14: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments I think a part of it is the tendency to look at the comfortable situation we find ourselves in and say - "look what I did all by myself, who needs God."

Another part is how do we as the people of God present ourselves to the world. Part of this is the question of whether we present ourselves as people of joy, as Mother Teresa notes again and again. Another I think is captured in this quote from Love of Poverty in Dear Sisters:

"I think that if today there are no vocations in the church, or if they are scarce, it is partly due to the fact that there is too much wealth, too much comfort, too high a standard of living, not only in families but even in religious life."

If Christianity is presented to today's world as social work with prayer and rules, that doesn't seem very attractive.

At first this seems like it might contradict Chesterton's famous quote: "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried." But I think perhaps they are saying much the same thing in slightly different ways. When Catholics are no different than the rest of the population, it is evident that for many of us, "it has been found difficult and not tried." I don't think that moves people.

The all powerful God of the Universe loves me and has forgiven me my sins. When I pause to reflect on that I am overwhelmed with humility. If I keep that at the center of my life, how can I help but be joyful regardless of what pains and suffering life brings. In the final analysis the only thing that matters is that fact that I am loved. That is the message that Mother Teresa brought to people, to the poorest of the poor.


message 15: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1435 comments Mod
I like what you wrote, John. This certainly touches upon many critical aspects.

When I look at our culture today, you don't really see the message of hope that is so dominant in the history of Salvation. When it comes to hope we are all equal.

Could it be that we haven't been effective enough in imparting this part of the Christian message? Secularism rewards instant gratification, but it doesn't have any philosophical provision for hope.


message 16: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments Kerstin wrote: "I like what you wrote, John. This certainly touches upon many critical aspects.

When I look at our culture today, you don't really see the message of hope that is so dominant in the history of Sa..."


Thanks, Kerstin. I think in our society the incredibly liberating and joyful aspect of the Gospel is ignored and all of the focus is on "the rules." As you say, secularism offers instant gratification, but it is empty. Which probably explains its adherence to death as a solution to the emptiness it ultimately delivers. Abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, the increasing rates of suicide. Lives without hope and spent chasing the false promises of secularism can be pretty bitter when the reality of the emptiness is confronted. I look at what is happening in our society today and I wonder that anyone can doubt the existence of Satan.


message 17: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments A fair portion of Dear Sisters seems to me to be pretty specifically focused on the Sisters of Charity, but I thought this was quite relevant:

"We cannot decide to become saints without a great effort of renunciation, or resisting temptations, of combat, or persecution, and of all sorts of sacrifices. It is not possible to love God except at one's own expense."

So what will I sacrifice today? What expense will I bear?


message 18: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 1435 comments Mod
She certainly draws us out of our comfort zone. You know she is right, but oh, so hard to follow!


message 19: by Colleen (new)

Colleen (colleenisterrific) | 21 comments Thinking back on this section, especially the quote that John picked out, reminded me of an experience I had last weekend.

I was invited by my mother-in-law to attend a women's conference held at their new "church" (my in-laws grew up Catholic but have since started going to a Protestant church following some significant issues within their marriage). I wasn't super keen on attending, but felt compelled to go since my mother-in-law had paid for my ticket and it was a Christmas present.

Besides longing for the host and some authority in the preaching, I felt like sacrifice was missing at this church. Everything about the conference and the church in general was about comfort- uplifting Christian music, the typical "Jesus loves you" motivational speeches, and we can do it rah-rah mentality.

I think that is a problem across the board in Christianity- we all want to be comfortable. People shop around for churches and settle on the ones with the least theological message and the most entertainment. Frankly, I felt no substance there.

So it is entirely refreshing to read Mother Teresa as she reminds us that suffering brings us closer to Christ. We should aim to suffer more for the sake of others and also meditate on Christ's suffering that he endured for our sake.


message 20: by John (last edited Oct 06, 2017 01:38PM) (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments "We cannot place ourselves directly in the presence of God without forcing ourselves to an inner and outer silence. Therefore, we have to get used to the silence of the spirit, of the eyes, and of the tongue."

This made me think of these words of Mother Teresa which my parish in Minnesota has pasted on the inside cover of the hymnal/missal:
"The fruit of silence is prayer
The fruit of prayer is faith
The fruit of faith is love
The fruit of love is service
The fruit of service is peace"


It all begins with silence. And the secular world seems to be at war with silence. Noise, aural and visual, bombard you every waking moment of every day, and if you fall asleep in front of the TV, even some of the non-waking moments.

For those of us living and working in the world, I am coming to think that identifying where we can find silence is the most critical first step of our spiritual walk.

In searching for Mother Teresa's words above, I found the following, which I thought I would share:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdcuF...

[edited to fix typos]


message 21: by Kerstin (last edited Oct 06, 2017 07:40AM) (new)

Kerstin | 1435 comments Mod
Colleen wrote: "Besides longing for the host and some authority in the preaching, I felt like sacrifice was missing at this church. Everything about the conference and the church in general was about comfort- uplifting Christian music, the typical "Jesus loves you" motivational speeches, and we can do it rah-rah mentality. "

It is all about emotionalism. But emotionalism is not the same as love.

There is another quote from Mother Teresa where she addresses what love is. And as always, she draws us out of our comfort zone.
" True love hurts. It always must hurt. It has to be painful to love someone; painful to leave him. When people marry, they have to give up everything in order to love each other. A mother who gives life to a child suffers much. The word "love" is misunderstood and misused so much."



message 22: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3914 comments Mod
I am familiar with that Mother Teresa prayer/quote but I did not know it was set to music. Thank you John, that was lovely.


message 23: by Manny (new)

Manny (virmarl) | 3914 comments Mod
That's a great quote, Kerstin.


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan | 196 comments Kerstin wrote: "Colleen wrote: "Besides longing for the host and some authority in the preaching, I felt like sacrifice was missing at this church. Everything about the conference and the church in general was abo..."

wow....well-stated...


message 25: by John (new)

John Seymour | 167 comments "One day there springs up the desire for money and for all that money can provide - the superfluous, luxury in eating, luxury in dressing, trifles. Needs increase because one thing calls for another. The result is uncontrollable dissatisfaction."

I know that Mother Teresa is here addressing the need to adhere strictly to the vow of poverty the Sisters take, but it seems to me there is a broader truth here about money that applies to all of us. We live in the world and to do that you have to have money to acquire at least the necessities of life. But how quickly our, my, appetites expand.


message 26: by Irene (new)

Irene | 909 comments So true


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