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3 Ways Mother Teresa Shows Us to 'Serve the Poor' at Home - Emily Molitor

3 Ways Mother Teresa Shows Us to ‘Serve the Poor’ at Home


Emily Molitor reflects on the writings of Mother Teresa to show us how, in the role of wife and mother, we can become Mother Teresa in everyday family life.

Catholics around the world are rejoicing in the news that Mother Teresa will be canonized a saint in September of 2016!

Following this exciting announcement, I have again picked up her writings and am amazed by the amount of simple wisdom available for the family in her books.

Mother Teresa offers numerous insights into the beauty of poverty, as well as what it means to Mother Teresa in everyday family life.

As a nun who lived her life in service to the poorest of the poor, she was daily in contact with families and children, and realized that the deepest need in every human heart is to be loved.

Inspired by her encouraging words, I would like to highlight a few points which struck me regarding her advice to families, and what it means to live as a servant in the midst of family life.

1. “Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self.”

What a powerful, yet simple statement.

As Christians, we are called to imitate Christ and become servants of the poor in whatever state of life that we are called to. Regardless of our wealth, status or vocation, we can serve the poor in our midst, through the daily sacrifice of self.

Who are those poor among us? If I am honest, I can recognize them in my own life:

The poor are often my children, when they are in need of my focused love and attention, and I make myself unavailable to them through distraction methods or laziness. It is also my husband, when I have been inattentive to his emotional needs and have instead selfishly focused on my own needs or desires.

Finally, the poor in our midst is Christ.

He makes himself spiritually poor, in order that I learn to serve Him in love. He waits for me every day in the church tabernacle and thirsts for my love and companionship. He loves me to the point of making himself need me, a simple creature.

2. “Everything we do for another is our love for God in action.”

Mother Teresa relates a story of a family who affectionately called their crippled son “The Teacher of Love.” He taught them how to live out charity each day by teaching them what it meant to sacrifice for another in love.

In similar manner, all the work I may do as a wife and mother for my family is my love for God in action.

This beautiful truth is essential to my spiritual growth and peace of mind, for it serves as the basis for all that I do. If I cannot see my trivial sacrifices and daily drudgery in the bigger picture, I am likely going to experience frequent burnout and frustration in my vocation.

Yet when I can see Christ through others as Mother Teresa did, my work becomes enormously important, and a unique opportunity to grow in charity.

3. “Teach your children to pray and to share.”

Mother Teresa reminds us that living together in a family is a wonderful opportunity for learning how to practice virtue. When we grow in charity through prayer and sacrifices with our husbands and children, we are together learning to “serve the poor.”

Through our daily acts of hidden and prayerful service to one another, we are developing that servant’s heart which Mary and Joseph model for us in the life of the Holy Family.

The necessity of denying oneself for the good of another is perhaps the most important lesson that parents can impart to their children.

Especially as mothers, we must recognize the beauty of living out hidden virtue in imitation of Mary. For like her, the fiat which we uttered on our marriage day echoes throughout the events of our lives.

When we feel tempted to give up or give in, we can recall the “yes” which we spoke to our husbands and to God, and invoke Mary our Mother to come to our assistance in embracing our vocations as humble and joyful servants.

Mother Teresa reminds us: do we affirm service and sharing as a blessing for ourselves and our children in the home?

Let’s recall again how we are made in the image of Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve.

If we are created in His image, then we are literally made for service; here and here only is where we will discover the deep happiness of the saints.

Header photo CC Manfredo Ferrari | Wikimedia Commons

About Emily Molitor

A graduate of Christendom College, Emily lives in Indiana with her husband and two daughters. After teaching elementary school, she is now a stay-at-home mom. She enjoys reading, writing, music, crafting and gardening. Meet Emily
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