“Love begins at home.” – Mother Teresa
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been touched by the words and work of Mother Teresa.
Her advice on loving — on giving — is so very practical, and really, very simple. When I would become overwhelmed watching the evening news, I would be reminded of her words: “‘Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
Though she created a worldwide organization that serves millions of people — and won many of the most prestigious awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize — and gave her entire life to serve the poorest of the poor — Mother Teresa reminds us that we don’t have to do as she has done to make an impact on the world. We only must try to love as she has tried to love: as God loves.
What I find so cool about her message is that it doesn’t take great acts to change the world, rather, “small acts with great love.”
This little home, this little family, this little neighborhood: this is where I am called to serve, to love, to find my greatest joy. “What can you do to promote world peace?” says Mother Teresa: “Go home and love your family.”
I have a little book of her quotes upon my bookshelf that I pull down from time to time and I find that many apply so beautifully to the vocation of motherhood specifically. I thought it would be fun to pull some of those together:
Here are 7 ways Mother Teresa encourages mothers to change the world by loving in our own homes.
1. Instill a love for home in your children.
“Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home. Make them long to be with their families. So much sin could be avoided if our people really loved their homes.”
“Start by making your own home a place where peace, happiness and love abound, through your love for each member of your family and for your neighbor.”
“To parents: It is very important that children learn from their fathers and mothers how to love one another — not in the school, not from the teacher, but from you. It is very important that you share with your children the joy of that smile. There will be misunderstandings; every family has its cross, its suffering. Always be the first to forgive with a smile. Be cheerful, be happy.”
2. Be joyful in all things.
“It is easy to smile at people outside your own home. It is so easy to take care of the people that you don’t know well. It is difficult to be thoughtful and kind and to smile and be loving to your own family in the house day after day, especially when we are tired and in a bad temper or bad mood. We all have these moments and that is the time that Christ comes to us in a distressing disguise.”
“He gives most who gives with joy. If in your work you have difficulties accept them with joy, with a big smile. The best way to show your gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.”
“Let anyone who comes to you go away feeling better and happier. Every one should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile. Joy shows from the eyes, it appears when we speak and walk. It cannot be kept closed inside us. It reacts outside. Joy is very infectious.”
3. Slow down, enjoy each other.
“Today we see more and more that all the suffering in the world has started from the home. Today we have no time even to look at each other, to talk to each other, to enjoy each other, and still less to be what our children expect from us, what the husband expects from the wife, what the wife expects from the husband. And so more and more we are out of our homes and less and less in touch with each other.”
“Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other, there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.”
“I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. Be that good news to your own people first. Very often we are all smiles outside, but we are all sad inside and when we come home we have no time to smile.”
4. Pray simply, pray together.
“You can pray while you work. Work doesn’t stop prayer and prayer doesn’t stop work. It requires only that small raising of the mind to Him: I love you God, I trust you, I believe in you, I need you now. Small things like that. They are wonderful prayers.”
“How do we begin that love, that peace and hope? The family that prays together stays together; and if we stay together, naturally we will love one another and want each other. I feel today we need to bring prayer back. Teach your children to pray and pray with them.”
“I remember my mother, my father and the rest of us praying together each evening. It is God’s greatest gift to the family. It maintains family unity. So go back to family prayer and teach your children to pray and pray with them. Through prayer you will find out what God wants you to do.”
5. Teach children to love others by how you love each other.
“I think we should teach our children to love one another at home. They can learn this only from their father and mother, when they see the parents’ love for each other.”
“People who love each other fully and truly are the happiest people in the world. They may have little, they may have nothing, but they are happy people. Everything depends on how we love one another.”
“How do we love? Not in big things, but in small things with great love. There is so much love in us all. We must not be afraid to show our love.”
6. See the best in your family — accept each other for who you are.
“Let us be very sincere in our dealings with each other, and have the courage to accept each other as we are. Do not be surprised or become preoccupied at each other’s failures — rather, see and find in each other the good.”
“Once you know you have hurt someone, be the first to say sorry. We cannot forgive unless we know that we need forgiveness, and forgiveness is the beginning of love.”
“The most natural thing is the family life. What keeps the family together, what nourishes the life of the family together, is that surrender to each other; is that obedience, is that accepting of each other.”
7. Do not worry.
“In the face of all difficulties, doubts and objections, trust in Him, He will not let you down. If God does not grant the means, that shows He does not want you to do that particular work. If He wants it done, He will give you the means. Therefore do not worry.”
“The future is not in our hands. We have no power over it. We can act only today. We have a sentence in our Constitution that says: ‘We will 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.’ So we do not worry about it.”
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is yet to come. We have only today. If we help our children to be what they should be today, they will have the necessary courage to face life with greater love.”
“Keep the joy of loving Jesus in your heart. And share this joy with all you meet — especially your family.” Mother Teresa