Mother Teresa, Obedience, and Questions for the Family


When the spiritual life seems too confusing to me, returning to Mother Teresa’s writings is such a balm. She is so simple and practical. What should you do, she’d return my question. Go find and care for Jesus: in your home and your community, even in your own heart, she’d reply. And then smile. And then she’d tell me to smile.

In returning to her book Where There is Love, There is God, I came upon a quote on obedience in a talk Mother Teresa was giving her sisters. She points out that God will not talk to us directly but through those in our lives to whom we are to be obedient.

She says:

I’m always surprised that God nowhere spoke to Our Lady directly. He spoke through the prophets, He spoke to Moses, He spoke to everybody possible in the Bible, but we don’t see anywhere [that]God spoke to Our Lady directly. It was through the angel, it was through St. Joseph, and so on…and this is obedience. That surrender. I belong to Him, He can use me, He can do what He wants with me and to us sisters, God is not going to speak to us.

So beautiful, so clear! Classic Mother Teresa. And yet I wonder, the issue of obedience is a little more complicated for lay people. To whom are we to be obedient? What does it mean to be truly obedient in a lay vocation? What does obedience look like in the family? Earlier in the book Mother Teresa expresses her suspicion that children today have such a problem with obedience because their parents aren’t yielding to each other out of love.

With the Church’s eyes turned toward the family in a special way as the synod on marriage and family begins, we can take a few moments to assess the kind of obedience we see in our own homes and marriages and if it’s disposing us to the peace of Christ in our souls.

Mother Teresa notes, “If I really understand that I belong to Christ, that nothing and nobody can separate me from the love of Christ, obedience is natural, completely natural, because if I belong to somebody, then that person has the right to use me” (p.265-266).

Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for our us, our families, and the synod.

Copyright 2014 Meg Matenaer


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