(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Mother Teresa spent the bulk of her life ministering to the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta. She begins No Greater Love by discussing the importance of prayer in her life. Prayer is her lifeblood. She is utterly dependent on God, and prayer connects her to God. She encourages all to pray, not only with words but also through silence. In silence, we can open our hearts to the presence of God, place ourselves humbly before him, and listen for him. In our prayer, we should give God all of ourselves, offering love and praise and seeking union with God. Only then can we go out and minister to the world.

Mother Teresa’s ministry was centered on love. She cared for the poor’s physical needs, but her main focus was on loving them. In her chapter on love, she emphasizes that this was the central focus of Jesus’ message. Jesus came to reveal God’s love to humankind and to command us to love one another. Mother Teresa’s life exemplified the meaning of love and of giving. She encouraged all people to give—not only tangible gifts such as money, food, and clothing but also the intangible gifts of ourselves, such as a smile or a caring ear. She encouraged people to give not just from their abundance but to the point of feeling the sacrifice of giving. It is also important, Mother Teresa maintains, to teach children how to give.

All are called to holiness. God created us to be holy. Mother Teresa tells us that we are called to turn our lives over to God through humility and prayer. It is only through stripping away the ego and offering our lives to God that we can love others the way God loves us. In learning to love as God loves, we learn to be holy.

We also serve God through our work, whether that work takes place in the world or within our families. God calls each to a different role, but whatever help we offer to another person, whatever service we perform for another, we also perform for Jesus. We must use our God-given talents to glorify God. By the same token, Mother Teresa says that the love we show to our family members reflects the love of God. It is within...

(The entire section is 867 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Schaefer, Linda. Come and See: A Photojournalist’s Journey into the World of Mother Teresa. Sanford, Fla.: DC Press, 2003. Schaefer volunteered with Mother Teresa and ultimately received permission to photograph the experience. This book illustrates that amid pain and suffering there was also much joy to be experienced in this life of service.

Teresa, Mother, with José Luis González-Balado. Mother Teresa: In My Own Words. New York: Gramercy Books, 1996. González-Balado, a Spanish journalist and editor, knew Mother Teresa from 1969 until her death. This is a collection of her stories and prayers that illustrates her spirituality and presents her advice for following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Teresa, Mother, and Anthony Stern. Everything Starts from Prayer: Mother Teresa’s Meditations on Spiritual Life for People. Ashland, Oreg.: White Cloud Press, 1998. Contains Mother Teresa’s insights on prayer, which are appropriate for members of all faiths seeking a deeper connection with God.