Mother Teresa’s speech at the national Prayer Breakfast in 1994
Published: September 5th, 2016
From the archives in, in Washington, D.C. … Excerpts from Feb. 3, 1994, National Prayer Breakfast Speech by Mother Teresa, now canonized as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church, delivered in the presence of President and Mrs. Bill Clinton, transcribed by Priests for Life. The full transcript can be viewed at www.priestsforlife.org/brochures/mtspeech.html .
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!” . . .
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, comfortable 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 … . 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 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. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion. …
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!