REAL LIFE CONNECTION Charity in Your Own Home
Mother Teresa was a living witness to the virtue of charity and what it means to be a mother.
Charity and motherhood can be treated one-dimensionally by the world. Charity is seen as something we do when we donate clothes to Good Will or when we go to a special fundraiser. Motherhood is often equated with soccer moms running kids around town in an SUV. These are cheap views of two such mammoth underpinnings of society.
Charity is a theological virtue, along with faith and hope. It is defined as “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.” (CCC 1822)
St. Paul underscores the supreme importance of charity: "If I . . . have not charity, I am nothing. Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, if I . . . have not charity, I gain nothing...So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity." (CCC 1826)
Why is charity the greatest virtue?
Because faith and hope will pass away. We won’t need faith in heaven because our faith will be made complete. We won’t need hope either because there will be no eternal life to hope for - since we’ll be there! But charity - love - will remain.
Charity is so important that Jesus Christ establishes charity as the new commandment. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
Mother Teresa was an exemplar of this virtue. She challenged herself by undergoing the most difficult trials in her religious life with love, and challenged others to love when faced with difficulties:
”It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”
This way of love requires a lot of selflessness and is specially suited to motherhood, by virtue of the fact that a mother gives of herself in such a unique way.
Fulton Sheen describes this selflessness well:
“Most of us love a non-self, or something extrinsic and apart from our inner life; but a mother's love during the time she is a flesh-and-blood ciborium is not for a non-self but for one that is her very self, a perfect example of charity and love which hardly perceives a separation. Motherhood then be- comes a kind of priesthood. She brings God to man by preparing the flesh in which the soul will be implanted; she brings man to God in offering the child back again to the Creator.”
Mother Teresa had this kind of love in the way that she mothered her order and cared for those who were abandoned.
Her words resonate with us, because even though we may never help in the streets of Calcutta, we will be helping in the rooms of our own homes. We may not all be moth- ers, but we each have home-fronts to take care of, whether they be school, work, church, religious life or in all of our relationships.
We each have people who need more than a "cup of rice" from us today. They need your love as only you can give it.
REFLECTION Prayer of St. Francis Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen.
Who do I know who needs a smile and some of my love today?