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Words to Live by From Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

I love this prayer that was a favorite of Mother Teresa’s. It can keep you going in the darkest of times.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

This in honor of the memorial of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s death today in 1997.  Mother Teresa, pray for us!

Catholic Book Review: “The Four Teresas” by Gina Loehr

St. Therese of LisieuxSt. Therese of LisieuxWhen I was on my yearly silent retreat this summer (this year, at the lovely Benedict Inn at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Ind.), I stopped to peruse their book store. What a treasure trove of Catholic books I found there! There were so many about St. Benedict and his “rule” that I’d searched for at our library system and beyond to no avail and many new ones I would have loved to devour. But one book stood out — the woman who manages the Inn pointed it out to me as new to the bookstore: “The Four Teresas” by Gina Loehr. That was the one I decided to buy.

During my discernment of who should be my confirmation saint, I quickly felt called toward St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower. And I had a hard time initially deciding between the two. But many signs pointing me toward St. Therese and the realization that she was named for St. Teresa of Avila (thus, I was sort of choosing them both), helped me chose The Little Flower. Also, in my readings over the last year, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross’s story of complete and utter sacrifice touched me. I’ve always been interested in Mother Teresa and her amazing dedication to the poor even before my interest in Catholicism.

So, it turns out this book is focused on these four Teresas. I was hooked! I knew I had to read it.

I zipped through this one in just a few days. It’s very easy to read and offers a wonderful breakdown of each Teresa. Loehr tells you each one’s story and shows you how they are alike and very different. What I really enjoyed was at the end of each Teresa’s story, she adds sections on questions for reflection, 10 ways to be more like that saint, and points for consideration that direct you back toward yourself.

I dog eared each of these sections and made a list for myself of the “ways” I wanted to incorporate into my own life to be more like each Teresa.

In each saint’s story, I find a part of myself or something I’d like to imitate:

  • St. Teresa of Avila’s amazing dedication and ability to pray and meditate intrigues me. I am working to be able to be completely and utterly with God in the classroom of silence.
  • St. Therese of Lisieux is a wonderful model of how to make your entire life, every tiny thing, every simple action, every small sacrifice, a prayer to God.
  • St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was an intellectual who was able to merge her knowledge and learning with the spiritual. I, too, am an eternal learner and it was “reason” which stopped me from knowing the Lord for so long. I have learned, as did she, that God is the ultimate fulfillment of reason!
  • Blessed Mother Teresa is someone I’d love to emulate. I cannot fathom how she was so giving of herself to the poorest of the poor and how she gave her life entirely and wholely to that mission. I also admire that she acknowledges many years of spiritual darkness yet you never saw her without a smile and no one ever suspected such a thing. I could use a big dose of all of this!

I highly recommend this book as inspirational as well as practical in how to make your own life more holy in the image of these wonderful St. Teresas! Thanks for writing it Gina Loehr!

If you’re interested here’s a video with the author talking about writing the book:

Embracing Humility

HumilityAs I reorder my life to be more in line with the Catholic church and what God asks of us to become more holy and more saintly, humility is a quality I come upon again and again. All through my life, it has been incredibly important to me for others to approve of what I have done – in work, in life, as a mom, as a wife. I thrive on compliments and am dismayed when someone doesn’t like work that I’ve done.

I think this speaks to the true essence of humility. Because I am concerned what others think, that is demonstrating too much pride. If I were humble, I would not care what others think. I would be doing the work for the work’s sake, to please God in that moment.

In the “Rule of St. Benedict,” the saint who developed a guide for the operation of monastaries, Benedict says we must remember that everything good we do comes from God, not us; that’s a lesson in humility. And one that I take to heart and remember in moments of pride. In fact, he lists 7 steps to humility that may not apply completely in today’s world, but which the essence of which certainly does. It’s a great, simple read and a wonderful guide to life.

I’ve also been reading some of the writings of Mother Teresa and I felt like she really explained humility well in the book “No Greater Love” (put that on your book list to read!). She says “Do not pursue spectacular deeds. We must deliberately renounce all desires to see the fruit of our labor, doing all we can as best we can, leaving the rest in the hands of God.” Also, “Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. The Lord has willed me here where I am. He will offer a solution.” Beautiful…

And more recently I came across a Biblical passage noting, “God is the only judge.” Also, a great nugget to keep in mind when worry or sadness affects you based on someone else’s opinion.

Are others out there struggling with pride? Join me on this journey to become more humble and fully embrace humility. Let’s find joy in our daily work – from sweeping and laundry, to the office and our family – and do it not so someone will comment on a job well done, but because it will please God and is good for our family, ourselves and the world.

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St. Therese, the Little Flower, Pray for us!