By Susan Ciancio

Today we celebrate the feast day of a woman who spent her life caring for the poorest of the poor. Born Gonxha Agnes, she joined the Sisters of Loreto at the age of 18, where she took the name Sister Mary Teresa. Upon taking her final vows, she was called Mother Teresa.

On a train trip in 1946, Mother Teresa heard what she termed her “call within a call.” Christ asked her to form her own religious community—which she called the Missionaries of Charity—to serve the poor people of Calcutta, India.

By 1950, Mother Teresa had permission to begin this work, and begin she did! She and the sisters who followed her took care of the sick and the poor throughout India. Others were disgusted by those suffering from illnesses and abject poverty, but in these poor people, Mother Teresa saw neither filth nor sickness, only the face of Christ.

Her story is a beautiful one, and one everyone should know. But it is her example and her words that we should be mindful of and live by.

Below are five quotes by Mother Teresa that we absolutely love. We share her words—and our contemplation of them—to show how we can use her advice to help build a culture of life in our own families and communities.

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

It is indeed an immense tragedy to be unloved and forgotten. Loneliness is crippling. We were not put here on Earth to be by ourselves, yet many people are forgotten, unwanted, and unloved. We see this so frequently in nursing homes. As you think about Mother Teresa’s charity toward the discarded people of Calcutta, think about how you can walk in her shoes and care for the discarded in your community. Take some time to visit people in a nursing home. Sit and talk with them. Take them small gifts. Your presence and your efforts will bring immense joy and will show them that they still have value.

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

If not you, who? We could apply this to anything in our lives. If we sit around waiting for someone else to take the lead in standing up for preborn babies, or in standing up to a bully, or in teaching our children right from wrong, it may never get done. It might be difficult to take that first step in doing something to effect change, but once you take that step, you will find it easier and easier. So, take a few minutes right now to come up with one thing that you can do to help make a difference in someone’s life.

“Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.”

Family is the foundation of society, and children are the most precious gifts we have. The hustle and bustle of our daily lives can often leave us wondering what happened to our week or our month. It seems that time just flies by too quickly. But spouses need each other, and children need their parents. Make your family a priority. Satan and the culture of death are constantly attacking the family—even its very meaning. We cannot just rely on religious ed programs or schools to teach pro-life values; we have to model a pro-life lifestyle in our homes. Turn off the TV and pull out a deck of cards or a board game to play with your kids. Really listen to them as they talk about their day. Start and keep conversations going with your children about pro-life issues. Take time this week to spend some one-on-one time with just your spouse to show how much you value him/her, even if it’s something simple like sharing a special dessert after the kids go to bed. Remember, building a culture of life starts in the home.

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”

I once read a story about a man who left a suicide note that said he was going to take his life by jumping off a bridge, but that if just one person on his way there smiled at him, he would not go through with it. Apparently, no one did. A smile—that small act of kindness and affirmation that says “you matter”—can go a long way to helping brighten someone’s day. It’s not always easy to smile, especially if you’re thinking about the 20 things you have to do once you get home. But next time you’re out, take some time to lift up your head and really look at the people around you. Smile at them. You never know what that smile might mean to someone.

“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

This is a popular quote among pro-lifers, and it deserves a spot here in our favorites. Abortion is one of the greatest evils of our time, and one that we cannot stop fighting against. To take the life of a defenseless little baby—and in such a cruel and inhumane way—is surely one of the most grievous offenses against God. A child is always a blessing, even if the mother and father initially find an unexpected pregnancy difficult or burdensome. Show your love for babies by donating your time, extra clothing, toys, diapers, or baby supplies to a pregnancy help center. Your donation means the world to them.

Teach your children about St. Teresa with our lesson Do Small Things with Great Love: Saint Teresa of Calcutta (k-2nd grade) and our lesson Serving the Poorest of the Poor: St. Teresa of Calcutta (for 5th-6th graders). Both are on sale today!

Happy Feast of St. Teresa!