If You Want to Understand the 8 Beatitudes, Look at Mother Teresa

St. Teresa of Kolkata, pray for us to follow your example and live the beatitudes.

President Ronald Reagan presents Mother Teresa with the Medal of Freedom at a White House Ceremony, June 20, 1985.
President Ronald Reagan presents Mother Teresa with the Medal of Freedom at a White House Ceremony, June 20, 1985. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“Beatitude, in my opinion, is a possession of all things held to be good, from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want,” according to St. Gregory of Nyssa in The Lord's Prayer: The Beatitudes. “Its opposite is misery… The only truly wholly blessed thing is the Divinity Itself.”  

The Beatitudes are a simple transforming message of humility, and brotherly love that leads to eternal reward. The word itself—beatitude—means supreme blessedness; exalted happiness.

St. Teresa of Kolkata lived them. So, it is no surprise that so many of her words matched with the Beatitudes.


1. Jesus:   “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Mother Teresa: “When you have nothing left but God, you have more than enough to start over again.”

“The spiritual poverty of the Western World is much greater than the physical poverty of our people.”


2. Jesus:  “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Mother Teresa:  “Pain and suffering have come into your life, but remember pain, sorrow, suffering are but the kiss of Jesus – a sign that you have come so close to Him that He can kiss you.” 


3. Jesus:   “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Mother Teresa:  “Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed, you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint, you will not put yourself on a pedestal.”


4. Jesus:  Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

Mother Teresa:   “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

“I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than work miracles in unkindness.”


5. Jesus:  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 

Mother Teresa:  People are often unreasonable and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.  The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good anyway. 
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”   


6. Jesus:  Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. 

Mother Teresa:  “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”


7. Jesus:  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. 

Mother Teresa: Peace begins with a smile.


8. Jesus:   Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Mother Teresa was admired my many, but she was also persecuted. She was persistently criticized as doing her work for the sake of religious evangelism and also accused of not doing enough to change things. 


Not fearing persecution, but instead seeking righteousness, the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize recipient braved the ire of members of Congress, President Clinton and Vice President Gore and their wives at the 1994 Prayer Breakfast. Her head barely showing above the podium, Mother Teresa dared to speak out for the unborn.  She boldly said, “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because Jesus said, ‘If you receive a little child, you receive me.’ So, every abortion is the denial of receiving Jesus, the neglect of receiving Jesus. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another but to use any violence to get what they want.”

While much of the audience stood and applauded loudly, Clinton, Gore and their wives sat stiffly at the head table. Mother Teresa had spoken boldly, not seeking praise and unafraid of  backlash and persecution, but simply to state the truth.

St. Teresa of Kolkata, pray for us to follow your example and live the beatitudes.