Today, Image Books is releasing A CALL TO MERCY: HEARTS TO LOVE, HANDS TO SERVE, a posthumous book featuring never before published material by Mother Teresa.
Coinciding with the Year of Mercy and in the lead-up to her September 4th canonization, A CALL TO MERCY is introduced by the postulator of her cause, Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C..
The book brings together Mother Teresa’s teachings on mercy and compassion.
Here is a glimpse:
From A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve by Mother Teresa. Edited and with an introduction by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.
Homelessness is unfortunately becoming ever more common, even in developed countries. When Mother Teresa spoke about the homeless, she was rightly concerned about the poor who had inadequate housing, but even more about the poor living on the streets, “under the heavens,” day after day, month after month, and frequently year after year. Their situation was all the more desperate since a different future was not realistically in sight. Realizing the gravity of the problem, she sought appropriate places where she could open shelters or residences for the homeless. These centers were meant to be real homes, where the poor would be welcomed, loved, cared for, and especially where they would “feel at home,” as she used to insist.
Yet, however desperate the fact of being homeless is, Mother Teresa saw a deeper problem than just the mere lack of housing. She spoke of “the physical situation of my poor left in the streets unwanted, unloved, unclaimed.”
This deep understanding of “homelessness” came also from her deep mystical experience. In a letter to one of her spiritual directors, she claimed that the condition of the poor in the streets, rejected by all and abandoned to their suffering, was “the true picture of my own spiritual life.” This interior and excruciating pain of feeling unwanted, unloved, unclaimed by the God whom she loved with her whole heart, enabled her to grasp what the homeless felt in their daily life. She completely identified with their misery, loneliness, and rejection. And the poor felt this deep compassion of hers, merciful and nonjudgmental; they felt welcomed, loved, and understood.
Familiar with this pain, she used to encourage her sisters to give “shelter to the homeless—not only a shelter made of bricks but a heart that understands, that covers, that loves.”2 She endeavored to create a true home where everyone could feel welcomed, loved, and protected. She did not want just a cold, lifeless institution lacking love and affection, but places of peace and rest, where the homeless could experience God’s love and those who were dying could “die in peace with God,” knowing that they were loved and cared for.
Jesus Is Reliving His Passion in Our Poor People
“I was homeless, and you took Me in.” I am sure you in Assisi do not know what is hunger for bread, but there is hunger for love. . . . You do not find people lying in the streets maybe, homeless; but they are homeless because they are rejected, [lacking] that human dignity, that human love. Do you know the poor of Assisi? We have homes for the homeless people that we pick up from the streets of Rome. In Carlo Cattaneo,3 we have a home for the people who have no one, who have nothing, who are hungry. I am sure if we pray we will find that maybe right there in your own city, in your own place, you will find the poor.4
Jesus is reliving His Passion in our poor people. The poor people are really going through the Passion of Christ. We must serve them with respect. We should not send them from door to door—from Shishu Bhavan to Mother House. They have already so much to suffer. We should treat them with dignity. These poor people are Jesus suffering today. We must find ways and means of helping them in a better way; don’t add to their sufferings. Poor people are Jesus’s Calvary today.
In Calcutta, we have picked up 52,000 people from the streets—throwaways of society, unwanted, unloved, having no one to love them. Maybe you have never experienced that, it is a terrible pain, terrible pain.6
It may be if you go to the station and it may be if you visit some of the very poor areas, you will find people who are sleeping just in the park or you will see them sleep in the street. I have seen people in London, I have seen people in New York, I have seen people in Rome sleeping out in the street, in the park, and this is not the only kind of homelessness—that is terrible, terrible to see in the cold night, a man, a woman sleeping on a piece of newspaper in the street. But there is much greater homelessness—being rejected, being unwanted, being unloved.
But Mother, How Did You See Him?
When I was in Delhi, I was traveling by car, along one of the big streets. There was a man lying half on the road and half on the pavement. Cars were passing by but no one stopped to see if he was all right. When I stopped the car and picked up the man, the sisters were surprised. They asked me: “But Mother, how did you see him?” No one had seen him, not even the sisters.
Reprinted from A CALL TO MERCY: HEARTS TO LOVE, HANDS TO SERVE Copyright © 2016 by The Mother Teresa Center. Published by Image, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.