Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) has become one of the most misquoted people on the internet which is ripe with sickly-sweet memes and quotes supposedly from the beloved saint. In fact, many of these well known quotes attributed to Saint Teresa are actually the words of other people and many of them are just made up.
The problem is so persistent that Saint Teresa’s own order has a webpage dedicated solely to debunking these falsely-attributed quotes.
The website has three sections:
- quotes Mother Teresa never said
- those quotes translated into Spanish
- significantly paraphrased or personal interpretations of Mother’s words
A disclaimer at the end of the page states that these lists are not comprehensive which means that there are more false quotes out there. Let the Mother Teresa quoter beware!
Below are some real Mother Teresa quotes:
“Be only all for Jesus through Mary. Be holy.”
“Let us love one another as God loves each of us. And where does this love begin? In your own home. How does it begin? By praying together.”
“The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things – to love and to be loved.”
“Holiness is not the luxury of the few; it is a simply duty, for you and for me.”
“God has created us to love and to be loved, and this is the beginning of prayer – to know that He loves me, that I have been created for greater things.”
“When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’ Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.”
“Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child.”
Some quotes that Mother Teresa did not say:
“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.”
“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, People may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, They may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.” (This is an adaptation of the Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent M. Keith)
“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is not hurt, but only more love.” (These are the words of Daphne Rae)
“Live simply so others may simply live.”
“Nuclear war would not be an unjust punishment for a nation that promotes abortion.”
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”
“I think it is very good when people suffer. To me that is like the kiss of Jesus.”
So, the next time you see a Mother Teresa quote that causes you to pause, remember that she may not have actually said it. You can check the most up to date list of things she did not say here.
Mother Teresa is best known for her work with the poorest of the poor with the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation founded by Mother Teresa in the Diocese of Calcutta. Mother Teresa’s work and spirituality went on to draw worldwide admiration. She died on 5 September 1997 at the age of 87. She was beatified just six years later by Pope Saint John Paul II on 19 October 2003 and she was canonized by Pope Francis on 4 September 2016.