Today is the 15th anniversary of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta's death on September 5th, 1997. Today is a chance to reflect on her life's work, the many blessings she brought to the people she served, and the blessings she continues to bring to those who never met, but are forever changed by her witness of Love.
|Mother Teresa, holding an armless orphan at one of her order's orphanages.|
I was in junior high when Mother Teresa went on to her eternal reward, and I was too young or immature to understand the magnitude of this blessed woman's life. Of her many famous quotes, my favorites come from her February 3, 1994 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
As a woman who worked intimately with the poorest of the poor and the most unloved people on the planet, she witnessed the darkest consequences of human sin. So, when this woman, who saw the consequences of sin unabashedly zeroed in on abortion as "the greatest destroyer of peace today," if we are wise, we will listen. Below is my favorite excerpt from her National Prayer Breakfast speech. If you cannot read her beautiful speech in its entirety, please, at the very least, read the excerpt below. (Priests for Life have the full text as well as the audio available in MP3 format here.)
Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today - abortion which brings people to such blindness.
And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere - "Let us bring the child back." The child is God's gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things - to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.
But what does God say to us? He says: "Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand." We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.
I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption - by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: "Please don't destroy the child; we will take the child." So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: "Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child." And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child - but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said. "Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me." By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.
Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.
From our children's home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.
I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning.
The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception.
In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.
I also know that there are great problems in the world - that many spouses do not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all, and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion.
The poor are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. Once one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning and said: "You people who have practiced chastity, you are the best people to teach us natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other." And what this poor person said is very true. These poor people maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home to live in, but they can still be great people when they are spiritually rich.
Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us. May the consciences of the voters in the United States be formed to realize that abortion remains "the greatest destroyer of peace today," as you said it was in 1994. Thank you for showing us how to love until it hurts and to start within our own families.
"There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do."