Mother Teresa’s Example

By Kathryn Jean Lopez Published on September 11, 2023

Malcolm Muggeridge noticed that Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity religious sisters in India radiated joy. “I have been immensely struck by the joyfulness of these Sisters, who do what an outsider might think to be almost impossibly difficult and painful tasks,” the British journalist, an avowed atheist, told Mother Teresa in 1968 as he was working on a documentary and book Something Beautiful for God. That BBC interview introduced her to the world stage.

Radiating the Joy of Christ

“We must be able to radiate the joy of Christ, express it in our actions,” Mother Teresa said in that interview. “If our actions are just useful actions that give no joy to people, our poor people would never be able to rise up to the call which we want them to hear, that call to come closer to God. We want to make them feel that they are loved.”

Muggeridge prompted Mother Teresa to talk about all the children he saw being cared for by the Missionaries of Charity. “Many of those children are unwanted by their parents; some we pick, some we get from hospitals: They have been left there by their parents,” she said. “Some we bring from the jail, some are brought to us by the police. By whatever means they are brought to us, up to now we have never refused a child.”

“(H)ere in the slums, in the broken body, in the children, we see Christ and we touch him,” she said.

The Sisters saw the people they served, even the most troubled or disagreeable, as miracles of God’s creation. “(H)ere in the slums, in the broken body, in the children, we see Christ and we touch him,” she said.

A newer documentary about Mother Teresa arrived in theaters last year, “Mother Teresa: No Greater Love,” released by the Knights of Columbus. Sept. 5 marked the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, and I found myself watching it again. More people should.

A Rallying Call for Grace

I know I am not alone in finding myself frustrated by the onset of another presidential election, most likely between two candidates who should not be running. These endless presidential campaigns create incentives for everyone to display their ideological purity and rhetorically destroy potential opponents, while the real problems and opportunities for grace in our world go ignored.

During the recent Republican debate, I was heartened to hear two candidates talk about adoption. The example of Mother Teresa — who died only 26 years ago — urges us to ensure that all children — born and unborn — receive the love and care they need.

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A recent article in The Washington Post tried to find common ground between both sides of the abortion debate after the end of Roe v. Wade. One of the things it highlighted is the legislative initiatives already before Congress that both sides should get behind to help families. People could agree on areas of maternal health, paid family leave and simple resources to help college students and other pregnant women to be able to easily find help. Mother Teresa famously warned Washington at the National Prayer Breakfast about the danger of abortion, to the soul, to a nation. She talked about the importance of family. She did so in a spirit of love and hope and with a boldness that should inspire us.

I watched “No Greater Love” this year and felt Mother Teresa’s urgent rallying call to get serious. There is so much ridiculous anger rampant in American society today. Perhaps by working together to help people, some of this partisan rancor between citizens can be healed.

As you may know, at 79, Malcom Muggeridge converted to Catholicism. Miracles can happen when the work of love is performed in the world. So let’s get to work.


Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living. She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York, and is on the board of the University of Mary. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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