Wednesday, May 28

Humble Service

More Mother Teresa quotes:

"She had broken her shoulder bone and fractured three ribs due to a fall in Rome, but this was not enough to keep Mother [Teresa] in bed. She was always in haste to give Jesus and gave no thought for herself. At the age of over 80 it surely was not easy to have a hectic day followed by handling the mail each night. However, Mother gave herself completely."

A sister wrote, "I remember once when Mother came to Baton Rouge, I was watching Mother's every step. After we had lunch, Mother helped us to wash the dishes and she was the first one to take the duster to clean off the table. People were crowded outside because of Mother, and here Mother is doing the humblest act like a sister."

Brian Kolodiejchuk, her biographer, notes: "Mother Teresa accepted all the interior and exterior sufferings God gave her as a privilege, using them to fulfill the aim of her congregation. Yet it was not with a sense of helplessness or passive resignation that she lived; rather she radiated the joy of belonging to God, of living with Him. She knew that after the pain of the Passion, the joy of the resurrection would dawn." 

Come Be My Light, pp. 324-5

Friday, May 2

Moments of Savoring

I'm struggling as I write this book on Joy. How do we maintain joy in the midst of all life throws at us? I liked the quote my spiritual director recently read to me from Brother Lawrence. It's helped me a lot this month:

"The most holy, most ordinary, and most necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means to take delight in and become accustomed to his divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him all the time, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way, especially in times of temptation, suffering, aridity, weariness, even unfaithfulness and sin. We must continually apply ourselves so that all our actions without exception, become a kind of brief conversation with God, not in a contrived manner but coming from the purity and simplicity of our hearts."

"Whatever we do, even if we are reading or praying, we should stop for a few minutes -- as often as possible -- to praise God from the depths of our hearts, to enjoy Him there in secret."

--Practicing the Presence of God, part 3, Spiritual Maxims

I love this focus on savoring Jesus' presence. But wow..."even [in times of] unfaithfulness and sin." That's a stretch for me! But it helps me when I do...

Thursday, May 1

Pride or Joy?

Mother Teresa had taken a vow never to knowingly deny Jesus anything he asked. Two questions: Wasn't this an arrogant act? And didn't it suck the joy out of her?

Maybe for most of us it would be prideful. She, however, waited to make the vow until her spiritual director agreed she wasn't misguided. Her writings and comments from that time forward continue to be peppered with phrases like, "I am nothing. Jesus is everything." Sometimes I hear people say those things, but somehow I'm not convinced. 

Mother Teresa, on the other hand, in almost all her letters beseeched friends, mentors and counselees to pray for her. She talked often of her weakness. As the ministry grew, she marveled that Jesus had chosen her to launch such a work.

Another piece of evidence: she became known for rapid responsiveness. She acted very quickly once she thought Jesus was asking her to do something. In fact, some of those around her thought of her as somewhat rash or impetuous.

I've noticed children are quick to refuse to do something they're asked to do; or if they don't outright refuse, they can be very slow to obey. I've noticed I'm not much different. It really does require humility to respond quickly, and I think that accounts for her quickness to respond.

As for joy: One of the sisters in her community wrote that she was "full of fun" and "enjoyed everything that went on" (Come Be My Light, p. 33).

Her own comment reveals her internal experience: "When I see someone sad, I always think, she is refusing something to Jesus" (p. 33).

She inspires me to greater humility. Lord, help me become quick to respond, by your grace.