“Live simply so others may simply live.”
“A life not lived for others is not a life.”
“The fruit of abortion is nuclear war.”
“Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.”
Which of these are quotes from Blessed Teresa of Kolkata?
The answer — none of them.
Call it urban legend, simple misquoting or out-right fabrication, there are dozens of quotes attributed to Mother Teresa that, according to the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center, she never said. (Style note: Blessed Teresa of Kolkata became the preferred style in Catholic media a few years ago.)
To combat the perpetuation of these misquotes, the center compiled a list of quotes falsely attributed to the soon-to-be saint. And, there’s a section called, “Quotes that are significantly paraphrased versions or personal interpretations of statements Mother Teresa made; they are not her authentic words.”
So, according to the list, she didn’t say, “I think it is very good when people suffer. To me that is like the kiss of Jesus.” Nor did she say, “Good works are links that form a chain of love.” Some of these quotes sound like her style, some are too far-fetched to believe.
Others are just a bit off-track, “I don’t do great things. I do small things with great passion.” She is however quoted in the book Come Be My Light, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk as saying, “Don't look for big things, just do small things with great love. ...The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.”
The center’s website points out that many entities are appropriating Mother Teresa’s name or image without permission of the Missionaries of Charity. Their list is a helpful reference as the Sept. 4 canonization nears.
So next time someone tells you, “As Mother Teresa said … ”smile, but doublecheck it.
Augherton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @aughertonACH.
Find out more
For biographical info and more on quotes and misquotes, go to http://www.motherteresa.org/08_info/Quotesf.html .