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Remember the Small Things
Some of my sisters work in Australia. On a reservation, among the Aborigines, there was an elderly man.  I can assure you that you have never seen a situation as difficult as that poor old man's.  He was completely ignored by everyone.  His home was disordered and dirty.

I told him, "Please, let me clean your house, wash your clothes, and make your bed." He answered, "I'm okay like this. Let it be."

I said again, "You will be still better if you allow me to do it."

He finally agreed. So I was able to clean his house and wash his clothes.   I discovered a beautiful lamp, covered with dust.  Only God knows how many years had passed since he last lit it.

I said to him, "Don't you light your lamp? Don't you ever use it?"

He answered, "No. No one comes to see me.  I have no need to light it.  Who would I light it for?"

I asked, "Would you light it every night if the sisters came?"

He replied, "Of course."

From that day on the sisters committed themselves to visiting him every evening.  We cleaned the lamp, and the sisters would light it every evening.

Two years passed. I had completely forgotten that man.  He sent this message: "Tell my friend that the light she lit in my life continues to shine still."

I thought it was a very small thing. We often neglect small things.

To Die Like an Angel
One evening we went out and rescued four people off the streets. One of them was in a desperate condition. I told the sisters, "You take care of the others.    I will care or this one who is worse off." I did everything for her that my love could do.  I put her into bed, and I saw a beautiful smile light up her face.   She squeezed my hand and only managed to say two words, "Thank you." And then she closed her eyes.

I couldn't help but ask myself there beside her body, "What would I have said if I had been in her place?" My answer was very simple. I would have said that I was hungry, that I was dying, that I was cold. Or I would have said that this or that part of my body hurt or something like that.  But she gave me much more.  She gave me her grateful love.  And she died with a smile on her face.

Abandonment Is an Awful Poverty
One day I visited a house where our sisters shelter the aged.  This is one of the nicest houses in England, filled with beautiful and precious things, yet there was not one smile on the faces of these people. All of them were looking toward the door.

I asked the sister in charge, "Why are they like that? Why can't you see a smile on their faces?" (I am accustomed to seeing smiles on people's faces.  I think a smile generates a smile, just as love generates love.)

The sister answered, "The same thing happens every day. They are always waiting for someone to come and visit them.  Loneliness eats them up, and day after day they do not stop looking.  Nobody comes."

Abandonment is an awful poverty.  There are poor people everywhere, but the deepest poverty is not being loved.

The poor we seek may live near us or far away. They can be materially or spiritually poor. They may be hungry for bread or hungry for friendship.  They may need clothing, or they may need the sense of wealth that God's love for them represents.   They may need the shelter of a house made of bricks and cement or the shelter of having a place in our hearts.

Joy and Prayer
One day a novice in Rome came to me. She was crying. I asked her, "What is the matter?" She had just come back from a family and said, " Mother, I have never seen such suffering. They had nothing in the house. There was this terrible sickness, the terrible cancer, and I could do nothing. Please allow me to do a little bit of extra penance. I want to share in that suffering."

She was a young sister, scarcely three years in our congregation, but it was painful for her to see the suffering of the others.

Joy is prayer, Joy is strength. Joy is love. Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.  God loves a cheerful giver.  He gives most who gives with joy.   The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy.  A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.  Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.

This I tell my sisters. This I tell you.

God Brought to a Destitute
I never forget what happened to our sisters in Rome, where we work with the shut-ins.

They go to the poor people's houses. (We clean the house and give them a bath, wash their clothes in the house and so on.)

The sisters found someone left in a terrible condition. They cleaned his room and washed is clothes and gave him a good bath, but he never spoke.

After two days he told the sisters, "You have brought God into my life, bring father also."

They went to the parish priest and brought the priest.  That man who never spoke, only that sentence he said, made his confession (he was Catholic).  He made his confession after sixty years, and next morning he died. 

He had a beautiful death!

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These stories were taken from  "In the Heart of The World"  by Mother Teresa/edited by Becky Beneate, New World Library, 1997, and from "My Life for the Poor" by Mother Teresa/edited by Jose Luis Gonzalez-Balado and Janet Playfoot, Ballentine Books, 1985

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