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New York Times Book Review: 6/40
New Yorker: 0/36
New York Review of Books: 0/20
Vogue: 1/16
Email: 841/1373

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Greater Love by Mother Teresa

Title: No Greater Love

Author: Mother Teresa

First Published: 1995

No. of Pages: 206

Synopsis (from B&N): "No Greater Love is the essential wisdom of Mother Teresa — the most accessible, intimate, and inspiring book of her teachings. Thematically arranged to present her revolutionary vision of Christianity in its graceful simplicity, the book features her thoughts on love, generosity, forgiveness, prayer, service, and what it means to be a Christian. A passionate testament to deep hope and abiding faith in God, No Greater Love celebrates the life and work of one of the world’s most revered spiritual teachers."

Fiction or Nonfiction: Nonfiction

Comments and Critique: Mother Teresa was truly one of the most humble people in our world. This is evidenced throughout this book, beginning with the first line.

I don't think there is anyone who needs God's help and grace as much as I do.
Imagine Mother Teresa, felt throughout the world to be a saint, feeling that! In some ways, it makes me feel better about myself to know she felt that, but then I must also acknowledge that her feeling differs from mine. I'm not nearly humble enough and when I think or say "I'm so weak, why doesn't God help me?" it's really self-pity working and not true reliance on the Lord. But Mother really meant it. It was never about her, always about God, which is obvious throughout her writing.

Rather than give a more traditional type of review, I thought I'd share some lines from the book that really stood out for me and why.

Perfect prayer does not consist in many words, but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus.
I've always had a problem with prayer, never feeling that I was doing it "right." This statement from someone who knew so much about prayer makes me feel that maybe my desire to pray counts for something, even if I can't come up with the words.

You will learn humility only by accepting humiliations. And you will meet humiliation all through your life. The greatest humiliation is to know that you are nothing.
The greatest mistake is to think you are too strong to fall into temptation. Put your finger in the fire and it will burn. So we have to go through the fire. The temptations are allowed by God. The only thing we have to do is to refuse to give in.
These are two of the hardest for me. I say I want to be humble, but I sure don't like it when I have the experiences necessary to make me that way!

We do not need to carry out grand things in order to show a great love for God and for our neighbors. It is the intensity of love we put into our gestures that makes them into something wonderful for God.
It is easy to love those who live far away. It is not always easy to love those who live right next to us.
The first quote is so important to remember. The big actions we perform are worthwhile, but how we live our daily life is so much more so. For the second quote, how true this can be! I think this is because loving and showing our love for those closest to us makes us much more vulnerable. Also, it can be so much easier to think positively about those far away, while we view those up close much harsher.

We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him right now, to be happy with Him at this very moment.
How many of us say we want to go to heaven, to be with God, but are unwilling to do what's necessary to be with Him today? I know I do. To be with Him now and everyday means giving up my will, my wants, my plans. That's so hard to do!

Challenges: 999 ("Catholicism"); Support Your Local Library