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Following Jesus

A Pure Heart Carries God’s Love

September 9, 2016 by

I have met many famous people in my lifetime – popes, cardinals, presidents, musicians, and sports stars – but one of the most inspiring encounters was with the amazing woman whose name is now Saint Teresa.

I’d heard all my life about her humble activities of service: how she and the Sisters of Charity took seriously the commandments to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison. She was a role model for my wife and our six daughters. But I never dreamt that I would have the chance to meet her, shake her hand, and encourage her to continue her work, which touched and changed the lives of millions of people.

When I finally did, what impressed me was not her love for the poor of the earth – everyone knows about that – but something perhaps incongruous for a woman who remained single her entire life: with deep conviction, she believed in family as the bedrock of society, and she believed in the importance of the marriage of one man and one woman for life.

Johann Christoph Arnold and his wife Verena greeting Mother Teresa
The author greeting Mother Teresa

Shortly before I met her the first time, in 1996, I was working on a book about marriage and sex. (At that time it was titled A Plea for Purity; it has since been republished, and remains widely read, as Sex, God, and Marriage.) So I took my courage in hand and asked her to write a foreword, which she graciously agreed to do, alluding to the well-known maxim that “the family that prays together, stays together.”

In this book we find a message needed today in every part of the world. To be pure, to remain pure, can only come at a price, the price of knowing God and of loving him enough to do his will. He will always give us the strength we need to keep purity as something beautiful for God. Purity is the fruit of prayer. If families pray together they will remain in unity and purity, and love each other as God loves each one of them.

When she sent me these words, typed out, she appended these last lines in her own handwriting:

A pure heart is a carrier of God’s love and where there is love, there is unity, joy, and peace. Let us pray. God bless you.

Mother Teresa’s handwritten foreword to Johann Christoph Arnold’s book, Sex, God, and Marriage

Meeting Mother Teresa – first in Washington, DC, and later in the Bronx – was an unforgettable experience and treasure. To see her coming down the streets of New York, and to walk and talk together, and then to be given a blessing and prayer, was something my wife and I will never forget. And she did not only encourage, she challenged: in a mass that morning in ­­­New York she pleaded with the congregation that they become involved with the poorest of the poor, telling us that there is where we will find Jesus.

Let us thank God that this woman lived among us, reminding us all that in spite of the good deeds we may do, all glory must go to God; no one should take any credit to themselves. May her example continue to inspire millions of people, and may the world be blessed with many more Mother Teresa’s who give their lives in service.

Johann Christoph Arnold and his wife Verena greeting Mother Teresa

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About the author

Johann Christoph Arnold and his wife, Verena

J. Christoph Arnold

Johann Christoph Arnold was a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, founder of Breaking the Cycle of Violence, and the author of...

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  • Mother Theresa did not receive support from her own order but did get it from the civil administration. She never misused her grants. She inspired Father Young to start The Altamont Group in Albany NY for former prisoners and addicts recognising the need for a home, a job and a support program. Both lacked initial support from their superiors but succeeded with grants and programs.

    James W Bachman
  • They are the persons that we all aim to live our lives like them. May God help us to have the pure heart which is a carrier of God’s love and where there is love, there is unity, joy, and peace. Let us pray. Thanks to God this woman -mother terasa and also Nelson Mandela lived among us and may the World blessed with many more to those who gave their lives in service. God bless them.

    METİN ERDEM