Am I Republican or Democrat or Catholic?

Archbishop Charles Chaput on this topic:

Mother Teresa at the National Prayer Breakfast, Washington DC. 2/3/1994

People often say, even those in my own family, that religion is an ‘opiate’ that was dreamed up to make the restless populace feel more comfortable. I guess they’re quoting Karl Marx who was probably quoting someone before him because this way of scorn is as old as the devil.

The irony is that Karl Marx and his followers initiated a revolution based on scorn that was in theory supposed to return power to the disinfranchised masses. In fact, the opposite occurred and the few Communists at the top lived well and tyrannized the rest of the Eastern Bloc countries. As we all know, their house crumbled, along with the Berlin Wall, over twenty years ago because it was built on the Sand of Scorn which, as I said, can only come from the devil.

By contrast, Mother Teresa built on the Rock of Ages. The Rock of Christ. She simply lived as Christ did, taught what Christ taught and urged others to do the same. This means that she never used scorn or blame or derision of others to further her own cause or the cause or those she was advocating for. To illustrate this, I have pasted in the speech that she gave in Washington, DC at the National Prayer Breakfast. In it, she tells the story of a man and a woman who died in the Missionary of Charity homes in India who were much richer than most of the citizens in the United States.

Both the man and the woman whom Mother Teresa and her sisters picked up in the streets were richer than most citizens in our country because, instead of blaming or cussing or accusing or mocking others for their fate, on their deathbeds they were grateful. So they died rich. Mother Teresa’s point is that, even though they died without possessions and probably due to the neglect of others, they were much wealthier than those who die surrounded by material goods but alone nonetheless because they’ve never been able to die to themselves and “love until it hurts”, as Mother says.

As Americans, an integral part of our inherited creed is that each person needs to do for themselves, pull themselves up by their own boostraps and, if there is anything left over, go ahead and give that to the poor, if they want. Often St. Paul’s statement that “Those who do not work, do not eat” is cited to support this belief. We are quick to blame those ‘welfare bums’ who live on the ‘public tit’ and cheat us out of our hard-earned tax dollars. We justify ourselves by pointing to how hard we work, how hard our parents and their parents before them worked “to get where we are.”

And in doing so, we sound very much like the Publican in the parable who thanked God he wasn’t like the rest of men. As Catholics in the United States, we have yet to come to grips with the fact that our deeply held Bootstrap Belief is not Church teaching. Church teaching equals Christ’s teaching and Christ’s teaching equals what Mother Teresa says in the talk below: We need to give until it hurts. Not from our excess. Not only to those we deem worthy. The reason God asks us to do this over and over is because we have been freely given every single thing that we possess. So Jesus instructs us to give freely in return.

Futhermore, we never have permission to scorn or blame others. No matter if they disagree with us politically. No matter if we feel they are taking advantage of financially. As Commited Catholics, we are commited to a higher standard than that which the culture of death we live in offers us. If, as Mother Teresa says, we are unabashedly prolife we are therefore unable to denigrate the lives of others in any way. We are not Republican or Democrat, we are Catholics First.

In the article below, Mother Teresa speaks of having to examine her own conscience after she nursed the woman who thanked her on her deathbed. Mother says that she knew that, if she had been that woman-from-the-streets, she would have begun to blame others for not helping her. The woman that she helped to die taught Mother that the way to build a Culture of Life is to live in the gratitude of children who know they are cared for by their Heavenly Father. Not in the fear that comes from our deeply held belief that there is not enough, that we must get ours first and that we really cannot depend on God to give us what we need.  In the heat of this election season, we need to examine our own consciences as well.

Speech of Mother Teresa of Calcutta to the National Prayer Breakfast,  Washington, DC, February 3, 1994

“On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand,

“Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was  thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me.” Then Jesus will  turn to those on His left hand and say, “Depart from me because I was hungry and  you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me drink, I was sick and  you did not visit me.” These will ask Him, “When did we see You hungry, or  thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?” And Jesus will answer them,

“Whatever you neglected to do unto one of the least of these, you neglected  to do unto me!”

As we have gathered here to pray together, I think it will be beautiful if we  begin with a prayer that expressed very well what Jesus wants us to do for the  least. St. Francis of Assisi understood very well these words of Jesus and His  life is very well expressed by a prayer. And this prayer, which we say every day  after Holy Communion, always surprises me very much, because it is very fitting  for each one of us. And I always wonder whether 800 years ago when St. Francis  lived, they had the same difficulties that we have today. I think that some of  you already have this prayer of peace – so we will pray it together.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury let me sow pardon, where there is doubt let me sow faith, where there is despair let me give hope, where there is darkness let me give light, Where there is sadness let me give joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not try to be comforted but to comfort, not try to be understood but to understand, not try to be loved but to love. Because it is in giving that we receive, it is in forgiving that we are forgiven, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Let us thank God for the opportunity He has given us today to have come here  to pray together. We have come here especially to pray for peace, joy and love.  We are reminded that Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor. He had told  us what that good news is when He said: “My peace I leave with you, My peace I  give unto you.” He came not to give the peace of the world which is only that we  don’t bother each other. He came to give the peace of heart which comes from  loving – from doing good to others.

And God loved the world so much that He gave His Son – it was a giving. God  gave His Son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with Him? As soon as Jesus  came into Mary’s life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And  as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the  unborn child – the child in the womb of Elizabeth – leapt with joy. While still  in the womb of Mary, Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist who leapt for joy  in the womb of Elizabeth.

And as if that were not enough, as if it were not enough that God the Son  should become one of us and bring peace and joy while still in the womb of Mary,  Jesus also died on the Cross to show that greater love. He died for you and for  me, and for that leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person  lying in the street, not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and everywhere. Our  Sisters serve these poor people in 105 countries throughout the world. Jesus  insisted that we love one another as He loves each one of us.

Jesus gave His life to love us and He tells us that we also have to give  whatever it takes to do good to one another. And in the Gospel Jesus says very  clearly: “Love as I have loved you.” Jesus died on the Cross because that is  what it took for Him to do good to us – to save us from our selfishness in sin.  He gave up everything to do the Father’s will to show us that we too must be  willing to give up everything to do God’s will – to love one another as He loves  each of us. If we are not willing to give whatever it takes to do good to one  another, sin is still in us. That is why we too must give to each other until it  hurts.

It is not enough for us to say: “I love God,” but I also have to love my  neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you  don’t love your neighbor.

How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor  whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live?

And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to  hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and,  in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it  hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace,  to those around me.

It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in His image for greater  things, to love and to be loved. We must “put on Christ” as Scripture tells us.  And so, we have been created to love and to be loved, and God has become man to  make it possible for us to love as He loved us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry  one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, “You did it  to Me.” On the last day He will say to those on His right, “Whatever you did to  the least of these, you did to Me,” and He will also say to those on His left,  “Whatever you neglected to do for the least of these you neglected to do it for  Me.”

When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus is thirsting  for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all  thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us  and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.

I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept  all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an  institution and forgotten them – maybe. I saw that in that home these old people  had everything – good food, comfort- able place, television, everything, but  everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a  smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: “Why do these people who have  every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not  smiling?”

I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile.

And Sister said: “This is the way it is nearly every day. They are expecting,  they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt  because they are forgotten.” And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual  poverty. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is  feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we there to be with  them, or do we merely put them in the care of others? Are we willing to give  until it hurts in order to be with our families, or do we put our own interests  first? These are the questions we must ask ourselves, especially as we begin  this year of the family. We must remember that love begins at home and we must  also remember that “the future of humanity passes through the family.”

I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given to  drugs. And I tried to find out why. Why is it like that, when those in the West  have so many more things than those in the East? And the answer was: “Because  there is no one in the family to receive them.” Our children depend on us for  everything – their health, their nutrition, their security, their coming to know  and love God. For all of this, they look to us with trust, hope and expectation.  But often father and mother are so busy they have no time for their children, or  perhaps they are not even married or have given up on their marriage. So the  children go to the streets and get involved in drugs or other things. We are  talking of love of the child which is where love and peace must begin. These are  the things that break peace.

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it  is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by  the mother herself.

And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell  other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an  abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that  love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to  love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love,  that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life  of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it  hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child  to solve her problems.

And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any  responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father  is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to  more abortion.

Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to  use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of  love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the  children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are  also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United  States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not  concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of  their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today –  abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere – “Let us bring the  child back.” The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the  special image and likeness of God for greater things – to love and to be loved.  In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our  care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our  children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God,  only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says: “Even if a mother could forget her  child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.” We are  carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of  God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now  in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption –  by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of  lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations:  “Please don’t destroy the child; we will take the child.” So we always have  someone tell the mothers in trouble: “Come, we will take care of you, we will  get a home for your child.” And we have a tremendous demand from couples who  cannot have a child – but I never give a child to a couple who have done  something not to have a child. Jesus said. “Anyone who receives a child in my  name, receives me.” By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by  aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.

Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am  willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a  married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.

From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children  from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting  parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.

I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural  family planning.

The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception.

In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or  wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it  destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must  turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not  to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by  contraception, abortion follows very easily.

I also know that there are great problems in the world – that many spouses do  not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve  all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of  all, and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people  to practice contraception and abortion.

The poor are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things.  Once one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning and  said: “You people who have practiced chastity, you are the best people to teach  us natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of  love for each other.” And what this poor person said is very true. These poor  people maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home to live in, but  they can still be great people when they are spiritually rich.

When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice,  a piece of bread. But a person who is shut out, who feels unwanted, unloved,  terrified, the person who has been thrown out of society – that spiritual  poverty is much harder to overcome. And abortion, which often follows from  contraception, brings a people to be spiritually poor, and that is the worst  poverty and the most difficult to overcome.

Those who are materially poor can be very wonderful people. One evening we  went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a  most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: “You take care of the other three;  I will take care of the one who looks worse.” So I did for her all that my love  can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face.

She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: “thank you” – and she  died.

I could not help but examine my conscience before her. And I asked: “What  would I say if I were in her place?” And my answer was very simple. I would have  tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said: “I am hungry, I  am dying, I am cold, I am in pain,” or something. But she gave me much more –  she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. Then there  was the man we picked up from the drain, half eaten by worms and, after we had  brought him to the home, he only said:

“I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die as an  angel, loved and cared for.”

Then, after we had removed the worms from his body, all he said, with a big  smile, was: “Sister, I am going home to God” -and he died. It was so wonderful  to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that without blaming  anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel – this greatness of people  who are spiritually rich even when they are materially poor. We are not social  workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of some people, but we must be  contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we are touching the body of Christ  and we are always in his presence.

You too must bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that  prays together, stays together.

There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our  sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we  do, but how much love we put into what we do.

If we are contemplatives in the heart of the world with all its problems,  these problems can never discourage us. We must always remember what God tells  us in Scripture: “Even if a mother could forget the child in her womb –  something impossible, but even if she could forget – I will never forget you.”

And so here I am talking with you. I want you to find the poor here, right in  your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people  first. And find out about your next door neighbors. Do you know who they are?

I had the most extraordinary experience of love of neighbor with a Hindu  family. A gentleman came to our house and said: “Mother Teresa, there is a  family who have not eaten for so long. Do something.” So I took some rice and  went there immediately. And I saw the children – their eyes shining with hunger.  I don’t know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And  the mother of the family took the rice I gave her and went out. When she came  back, I asked her: “Where did you go? What did you do?” And she gave me a very  simple answer: “They are hungry also.” What struck me was that she knew – and  who are they? A Muslim family – and she knew. I didn’t bring any more rice that  evening because I wanted them, Hindus and Muslims, to enjoy the joy of sharing.

But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy and peace with  their mother because she had the love to give until it hurts. And you see this  is where love begins – at home in the family.

So, as the example of this family shows, God will never forget us and there  is something you and I can always do. We can keep the joy of loving Jesus in our  hearts, and share that joy with all we come in contact with.

Let us make that one point – that no child will be unwanted, unloved, uncared  for, or killed and thrown away. And give until it hurts – with a smile.

Because I talk so much of giving with a smile, once a professor from the  United States asked me: “Are you married?” And I said: “Yes, and I find it  sometimes very difficult to smile at my spouse, Jesus, because He can be very  demanding – sometimes.” This is really something true.

And there is where love comes in – when it is demanding, and yet we can give  it with joy.

One of the most demanding things for me is traveling everywhere – and with  publicity. I have said to Jesus that if I don’t go to heaven for anything else,  I will be going to heaven for all the traveling with all the publicity, because  it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to heaven.

If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us,  then America can become a sign of peace for the world.

From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak – the unborn child – must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in  the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country  stood for. God bless you.”


About thereserita

Happy Catholic seeking to share that happiness with others.
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