Purity of Heart: The Moral Life
Mother Teresa's Address to the United Nations
On the occasion of its 40th Anniversary
"One Strong Resolution: I Will Love"
General Assembly Hall
October 26, 1985
[Based on the
un-edited UNTV video footage. Verbatim transcript by the Permanent
Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, New York,
January 14, 2004.]
Introduction by Secretary General Pérez de Cuéllar:
This is a hall of words. A few days ago we had, in this rostrum, the
most powerful men in the world. Now we have the privilege to have
the most powerful woman in the world. I don’t think I need to
present her. She doesn’t need words. She does need deeds. I think
that the best thing I can do is to pay tribute to her and to tell
that she is much more than I, much more than all of us. She is the
United Nations. She is peace in this world.
We have gathered together to thank God for the 40 years of the
beautiful work that the United Nations have put in for the good of
the people, and as we begin the year of peace, let us say the
prayer, you have all got one, we say the prayer together for peace.
For works of love are works of peace. We say it together so that we
may obtain peace and God can give us peace, by uniting us together.
Make us worthy Lord to serve our fellow men throughout the world,
who live and die in poverty and hunger.
Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread
and by our understanding love give peace and joy.
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.
That where there is hatred I may bring love,
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony,
That where there is error I may bring truth,
That where there is doubt I may bring faith,
That where there is despair I may bring hope,
That where there are shadows I may bring light,
That where there is sadness I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort that to be comforted,
To understand than to be understood,
To love than to be loved.
For it is by forgetting self that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven,
it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
We have asked our Lord to make us channels of peace, of joy, of
love, of unity, and this is why Jesus came: to prove that love. God
loved the world so much that he gave Jesus his son to come among us,
to give us that good news, that God loves us. And that he wants us
to love one another as he loves each one of us. That he has created
us for that one reason: to love and to be loved. No other reason. We
are not just a number in the world. We are children of God.
Last time I was in China they asked me “what is a communist to you?”
I said “a child of God, my brother my sister.” And exactly that is
what you and I are meant to be: brother, sister. Because the same
loving hand of God has created you, created me, created man of the
street, created that leper, that hungry man, that rich man, for that
same purpose: to love and to be loved. And this is what you and I
have come together today to find the means of peace.
How does peace come? Through works of love. Where does it begin? At
home. How does it begin? By praying together. For family that prays
together stays together. And if you stay together, you will love one
another as God loves each one of you. For Prayer gives a clean heart
and a clean heart can see God. And if you see God in each other, if
we have the joy of seeing God in each other, we will love one
another. That’s why no colour, no religion, no nationality should
come between us. For we are all the same children of the same loving
hand of God, created for greater things: to love and to be loved.
Only we must experience that joy of loving.
I never forget, some time back, two young people came to our house
and they gave me lots of money. And I asked them “where did you get
so much money?” And they said “two days ago we got married. Before
marriage, we decided we will not buy wedding clothes. We will not
have wedding feast. We will give you that money.” And I know that in
our country, in a Hindu family, what that means, not to have wedding
clothes, not to have a wedding feast. So again I asked, “but why?
Why did you do like that?” And they said “we loved each other so
much that we wanted to share the joy of loving with the people you
serve.” How do we experience the joy of loving? How do we experience
that? By giving until it hurts.
When I was going to Ethiopia, little children came to me. They heard
I was going there. And they came. They had come to know from the
sisters how much the children are suffering in Ethiopia. And they
came and each one gave something, very, very small money. And some,
whatever they had, they gave. And a little boy came to me and said
“I have nothing, I have no money, I have nothing. But I have this
piece of chocolate. And you give that, take that with you and you
give it to the children in Ethiopia.” That little child loved with
great love, because I think that was the first time that he had a
piece of chocolate in his hand. And he gave it. He gave it with joy
to be able to share, to remove a little the suffering of someone in
far Ethiopia. This is the joy of loving: to give until it hurts. It
hurt Jesus to love us, for he died on the cross, to teach us how to
love. And this is the way we too must love: until it hurts.
We have many beautiful people; you have seen in the pictures, our
poor people, our great people. I have been with them for so many
years and I have never yet heard a complaint. Some days back, I
picked up a man from the streets, eaten up alive with worms. I took
him to our home. And what did this man say? “I lived like an animal
in the streets, but I will die like an angel. Loved, and cared.” It
took us three hours to clean him, to remove every bit of those worms
that were eating him alive. And not a word from him. And just
before, while we were still praying with him, praying for him, he
looked up at sister and said “Sister, I am going home to God.” And
he died. There was such a wonderful, beautiful smile on his face. He
went home to God. I’ve never seen a smile like that. And yet there
was this man, eaten alive, no complaint, no cursing, and just “I am
going home to God.” And what a beautiful way of going home to God.
With a clean heart, with a pure heart, filled with joy. Filled with
that tenderness and love that he received from the sisters who
looked after him.
Yes, this is what you and I, today, if we really stand for why we
have come here today, to begin that year of peace, we must begin at
home, we must begin in our own family. Works of love begin at home
and works of love are works of peace. We all want peace, and yet,
and yet we are frightened of nuclears, we are frightened of this new
disease. But we are not afraid to kill an innocent child, that
little unborn child, who has been created for that same purpose: to
love God and to love you and me.
This is what is such a contradiction, and today I feel that abortion
has become the greatest destroyer of peace. We are afraid of the
nuclears, because it is touching us, but we are not afraid, the
mother is not afraid to commit that terrible murder. Even when God
Himself speaks of that, He says “even if mother could forget her
child, I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my
hand, you are precious to me, I love you.” These are God’s own words
to you, to me, to that little unborn child. And this is why if we
really want peace, if we are sincere in our hearts that we really
want peace, today, let us make that strong resolution that in our
countries, in our cities, we will not allow a single child to feel
unwanted, to feel unloved, to throw away a society. And let us help
each other to strengthen that. That in our countries that terrible
law of killing the innocents, of destroying life, destroying the
presence of God, be removed from our country, from our nation, from
our people, from our families.
And so that today, when we are praying, let us bring again and again
prayer in our life. For prayer will give us strength. Prayer is
something that will help us to see God in each other, to help us to
love one another as He loves each one of us. This is something that
you and I must bring to the world. The whole world is looking up at
you. You have gathered here, from all the nations to find the ways
and means of peace. For sure, works of love are works of peace, and
they begin in our family. Much suffering, much destruction has come
from the home, from the family. By destroying the unborn child, we
are destroying the presence of God. We have destroyed love. We have
destroyed the most sacred thing that a human being can have: the joy
of loving and joy of being loved.
And so today, when we have gathered here together, let us carry in
our hearts one strong resolution: I will love. I will be a carrier
of God’s love. For that is what Jesus came to teach us: How to love
one another. And to bring Him to love at home, in our own family, in
our own... to those that are unwanted. Maybe in our own family we
have the lowly.
We all speak of the terrible hunger. What I have seen in Ethiopia,
what I have seen in other places, especially these days in terrible
places like Ethiopia, but the people in hundreds and thousands are
facing death just for a piece of bread, for a glass of water. People
have died in my own hands. And yet we forget, why they and not we?
Let us love again, so let us share, let us pray that this terrible
suffering be removed from our people. Let us share with them the joy
of loving, and where does love begin? Again I say in our family, in
our home. Let us bring love, peace and joy through prayer. Let us
bring prayer, pray together, for prayer will give you a clean heart.
I will pray for you that you may grow in this love of God, by loving
one another as He loves each one of you, and especially that through
this love, you become holy. Holiness is not a luxury of the few.
It’s a simple duty for each one of us. For holiness brings love, and
love brings peace, and peace brings us together.
And let us not be afraid for God is with us if we allow Him, if we
give Him the joy of a pure heart. Let us pray, let us pray for each
other. And you pray for us also, that we may continue God’s work
with great love.
You have seen those young sisters, consecrating their lives totally
to the service of the poorest of the poor. These young sisters take
care of 158,000 lepers, in the Middle East, in Africa and India, and
so much joy, new life has come into their lives. Why? Because there
is somebody who loves them, somebody who wants them, somebody who
will give them tender love and care. I was asked the other day,
“What are you going to do in this place? We have everything. The
government gives us everything. What will you do here?” I only said
“I will give tender love and care.” No money can give that. So you
and I, let us begin with that tender love and care in our own home.
For this is what we have been created for. This is what Jesus came
to teach us, to love one another as He loves each one of us. We have
many poor people around the world, but I find that the poverty of
loneliness, the poverty of being unwanted unloved, uncared, just
left, a throwaway of society, is a very difficult and very, very
burdensome poverty, very difficult to remove.
I have picked up from the streets hungry people, and by giving them
to eat, by giving them a bed to sleep, I have removed the suffering,
but for the lonely, the shut-ins, the unwanted, it’s not so easy.
And so there you and I must come forward, and share the joy of
loving, but we cannot give what we don’t have. That’s why we need to
pray. And prayer will give us a clean heart, and a clean heart will
allow us to see God in each other. And if we see God in each other,
we will be able to live in peace and if we live in peace, we will be
able to share the joy of loving with each other and God will be with
God bless you.
This page is the work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and