Saint Teresa of Calcutta, or Mother Teresa as she is affectionately known, opened people’s eyes to the needs of the poorest of the poor through her ministry to the poor in the streets of India. She was, perhaps, the greatest pro-life role model of her time, and she understood that each and every human person has immeasurable dignity and worth. We can all learn valuable lessons from her life!
Mother Teresa saw the culture of death taking hold on society and took every opportunity to speak on behalf of the dignity of each human being—beginning with the preborn child. She left a legacy of love through her Missionaries of Charity who continue to bring the love of Christ to thousands of people all over the world by simply caring for the poor, sheltering the homeless, ministering to lepers, and helping the dying go to their Creator in peace.
Here are five lessons from Mother Teresa that can help us build a culture of life:
- “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
The world needs many small acts of love if we want to end abortion and violence. Not everyone is called to play a public role in building a culture of life and restoring human rights and dignity to preborn children, senior citizens, or sick people. That doesn’t mean we’re off the hook!
We can all start small. Are you capable of sharing pro-life memes on Facebook or letting your Twitter followers know the truth about the CMP videos and the Planned Parenthood scandal? Will you discuss the Church’s teaching on contraception or the gift of every human being at the next family Thanksgiving? Can you compassionately encourage an elderly neighbor that euthanasia is not the answer? If you cannot witness the gospel of life in small ways, you won’t be prepared to spread the gospel of life in bigger ways.
- “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
Our goal as pro-life people is to teach that every person has value and dignity. By taking time to listen compassionately to others, we can show other people that their lives have value and that they are treasures here on earth. Mother Teresa was famous for seeing Jesus in the face of every person to whom she tended. How did she do that? She did that by loving each and every person who crossed her path.
Let us follow the example of Mother Teresa by greeting others with a smile, listening intently when someone speaks, and by pausing to reflect on the light of Christ within each person. With these small acts of love, you help change the world—one person at a time.
- “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.”
Today, smile at a stranger. Smiling is a way of acknowledging the dignity of the people around you. Your smile today might be the only act of love that person sees all day, week, month, or year. A smile is a simple yet meaningful way to convey love and respect for another person.
Like Mother Teresa, most of us will end up with deep wrinkles on our faces. Those wrinkles might as well come from too much smiling rather than stress or worry!
- “I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”
We are commanded by God to love Him with our whole heart, soul, and mind, as well as love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is your neighbor? In the gospel of Luke, when a “scholar of the law,” hoping to justify his style of living, asks Jesus: “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds by telling him the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Just as the scholar in the parable must know his neighbors, so must we. In real life, our neighbors are the people we pass daily on our way to work. They are those we vaguely acknowledge in the checkout line in the grocery store. And they are our lonely neighbors and family members. Too often we neglect the people we see on a daily basis. As missionaries of the gospel of life, our mission begins in our own backyard, not in a distant land.
- “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
Focusing on the next generation is imperative if we are to succeed in building a culture of life. After all, how can young people build a culture of life if their elders never show them how? We will not win this battle against the culture of death through tidal waves of pro-life laws. We can only win through education that will change hearts and minds.
Even young children can learn to become great pro-life heroes through the example of people like Mother Teresa. Take some time to instill pro-life values in your elementary students and have fun while you do it! The Culture of Life Studies Program has a Mother Teresa e-lesson available for download in our online store. Using John and Marieta Monette’s charming Mother Teresa: A Life of Love and our lesson, you can help young children understand why this beautiful saint is such an inspirational role model. Download your copy here.
Now you can teach your kids about St. Teresa of Calcutta with our K-2 lesson Do Small Things with Great Love or our 5th-6th grade lesson Serving the Poorest of the Poor. Find both lessons at CultureOfLifeStudies.com/Shop. Available in print and digital formats.
This article has been reprinted with permission and can be found at cultureoflifestudies.com/blog/pro-life-lessons-from-mother-teresa/#.XOVMgshKjIU.
The Culture of Life Studies Program stresses the culture of life as an integral part of every academic discipline. CLSP is dedicated to helping students become effective communicators of the pro-life message. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter to see how we can help you foster a culture of life at home and in school.