10 Most Beautiful Mother Teresa Quotes on the Family
Most people remember Blessed Mother Teresa for her work with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta. A pioneer in modern implementation of peace and justice, she also spoke openly about controversial topics, such as abortion and the importance of traditional marriage and family life. In her no-nonsense, yet charitable, manner, Mother Teresa delivered the truth in a palatable and achievable manner. Her words of wisdom regarding the family are timeless treasures that we can contemplate even today.
1. “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”
The highest “virtue” in our modern milieu is happiness. Unfortunately, the world tells us that happiness can be purchased, traded, and even used and abused. As Catholics, we know that we can expect to be “reasonably happy in this life but supremely happy in the next,” which means that God may permit trials to fall upon our marriage and family. Rather than trying to change the entire world, Mother Teresa suggested that we spend more time loving our spouses and children, which will transmit joy in our wider communities.
2. “Whatever you do for your family, your children, your husband, your wife, you do for God. All we do, our prayers, our work, our suffering, is for Jesus.”
It’s a sobering thought to consider that all we do to and for our children and spouse – good and bad – is a reflection of how we treat Jesus every day. I have a card on my refrigerator with a saying from Mother Teresa that correlates with this thought: “At the end of the day, I need to ask myself only two things – What did I do to Jesus today? What did I do for Jesus today?” We can ask ourselves a variation of this: “What did I do to my family today? What did I do for my family today?” According to Mother Teresa, they are the same question.
3. “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.”
Most of us would somewhat sheepishly agree that our acquaintances, colleagues, and neighbors see our best self, while we let everything hang loose in our homes. Would we dare pick fights, argue, ignore, shame, or manipulate those far away? Probably not. We find it easier to love the people who don’t know us well, and vice versa, but Mother Teresa suggests that love isn’t fully realized until it involves the hard work of accepting the faults and failures of those closest to us. In order for love to truly be love, it must involve sacrifice and selflessness. We must offer the best of ourselves to our families.
4. “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”
This nearly mirrors the Little Flower’s famous saying, “We must do small things with great love.” When we put this into practice with our family members, it may well involve doing the petty, grievous things, such as getting a child a glass of water or bringing in the newspaper for our spouse. But these acts, when done with kindness and true charity, multiply so that the home is filled with harmony and love.
5. “The child is the beauty of God present in the world, that greatest gift to a family.”
Unlike the worldview that children are a burden, Blessed Mother Teresa always knew that children are the “greatest gift.” It’s tempting to get caught up in our daily work, keeping up our home, chauffeuring kids to games and meets, or engaging in our various forms of escapism. In turn, we tend to forget that our children are true miracles and we must cherish every moment we are given with them.
6. “The problem with our world is that we draw the circle of family too small.”
If we consider this statement literally, then the word family would encompass our family of origin, immediate, or extended family. But Mother Teresa is asking us to look broader and consider that every person is a member of our family. Since we are all adopted sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father, we are adopted siblings through the bond of Jesus and under the protection of His mother. If we remembered that every person is part of our family in a metaphysical sense, perhaps we would treat people with more patience, kindness, and thoughtfulness.
I spent several years after graduate school as a high school counselor and encountered children from broken homes nearly every day. Divorce, families without God at the center, and emotional neglect break the spirit of children in a stark and sometimes irreversible way. But Mother Teresa believed that we could, in fact, heal what is broken about society – by starting in our own homes. If we engaged in conversation with more intentionality and scheduled quality time with our spouse and children, perhaps even praying with them and for them, God’s grace would begin to repair the wounds of loneliness and estrangement.
8. “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.”
Home may be where the heart is, but the heart should be at home with our family. Love begins in the heart – a heart that is open, annihilated of self, ready and eager to serve, and full of God’s goodness. We must choose to love those closest to us, which means that love isn’t contingent upon how we feel about our spouse or children moment-to-moment. Instead, love is willing their good by acting in ways that will eternally benefit them.
9. “The family that prays together, stays together, and if they stay together they will love one another as God has loved each one of them. And works of love are always works of peace.”
No one wants a shattered family, afflicted by divorce or separation, wayward children, or icy silence among its members. Mother Teresa believed so strongly in the power of prayer that, if families chose to pray with each other regularly, they would become authentic witnesses of peace. As a spiritual fruit, peace is often granted to those who seek God through daily communication with Him. What is sorely lacking in our world is teaching our children how to love God at home. Prayer produces love, which yields the gift of peace.
10. “Never worry about numbers. Help one at a time, and always start with those nearest you.”
In western society, it’s always “the bigger, the better” or “the more, the merrier.” Somehow supersized everything supersedes quality. We want the biggest television with the fastest internet connection. We want more. We are gluttonous and greedy. Mother Teresa invites us to forget about quantity and start focusing on changing the world one person at a time – in our families. Instead of hoping to reach the largest audience on social media, perhaps we would do well to put down our phones and talk to our child who had a rough day at school. Listening and being are two of the most overlooked ways we can demonstrate love to our families, yet they speak the most powerful message: “I matter, and you care about me.”
Mother Teresa provided these pearls for us to refocus our time, thoughts, and choices back to our family. So often we take them for granted, mainly because we see them every day and assume they will be with us for a lifetime. But we are not guaranteed a lifetime, only God’s time, with our family. Let us pray with and for them, grow in patient resolve to serve them, guide them, and model sacrificial love to them.