Quotes and Excerpts

Mother Teresa: : A Complete Authorized Biography

by Kathryn Spink.


"In an ashram in the sought of India, on the banks of the sacred Cauvery River, Dom Bede Griffiths, an English Benedictine monk [actually a close friend of C. S. Lewis], had adopted the life of a sannyasi. In the temple there, Christian worship was expressed in forms and symbol meaningful to the Indian culture and potentially enriching to Christianity itself.

The ashram had become a centre of prayer and meditation to many who sought the universal and eternal truth at the heart of all religions. Mother Teresa sometimes sent her sisters there for brief retreats. I once chanced upon a group of them, after a Christian service in which, as in Hindu temples throughout India, the worshippers had marked their foreheads with sandalwood paste. Sandalwood, a very precious wood which spreads its fragrance even when cut with an axe, had been used to signify the grace of God. The Sisters were at first, at least, taken aback, even confused, for it was not Mother Teresa's way to use the symbolism of Hinduism to express the Christian message.

Yet her orthodoxy and her insistence on disciplined adherence to the "rules" coexisted with an emphasis on the primacy of love and the assertion that religion was a matter for individual conscience. "My religion is everything to me, but for every individual according to the grace God has given to that soul." 154

In 1978 a bill entitled, with shades of Orwellian "doublespeak", "the Freedom of Religion Bill" was proposed in the Indian parliament., Its ostensible aim was to prevent conversions to Christianity by "force, fraud, inducement or allurement." These terms were so loosely applied, however, that Christian worship and usual church activity might well be taken as contraventions of the law. 154

It provoked a strong reaction from church leaders. .... Mother Teresa ... wrote an open letter to the elderly Prime Minister, Morarji Desai:

'...This new move that is being brought before Parliament under the cover of freedom of religion is false. There is no freedom if a person is not free to choose according to his or her conscience. Our people in Arunachal are so disturbed. All these years our people have lived together in peace. Now religion is used as a deadly weapon to destroy the love they had for each other, just because some are Christians, some Hindus, some Tribals. Are you not afraid of God?

"You call him ISHWAR, some call him ALLAH, some simply God, but we all have to acknowledge that it is He who made us for greater things: to love and to be loved. Who are we to prevent our people from finding this God who has made them who loves them to whom they have to return?" 156-157


I took the letter from page 157, Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography written by Kathryn Spink.
 

http://books.google.com/books?id=cTIiakYrwWcC&pg=PA154&lpg=PA154&dq=%22dom+bede+griffiths%22+teresa&source=web&ots=b7miKCru1c&sig=UPhkY5I4K9_75Sth0B4q38S9nKg#PPA155,M1

The whole letter:

The Freedom to Choose
Jun 25, 2007 in Religion

In 1978, 'the Freedom of Religion Bill' was proposed in the Indian parliament, with the aim to prevent conversions to Christianity by 'force, fraud, inducement or allurement'. The bill was part of a government led campaign to discourage the activities of foreign missionaries.

In this particular situation, the late Mother Teresa, herself an outspoken activist and a leader for the church, wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, Morarji Desai:

Dear Mr Desai, and Members of Our Parliament,

After much prayer and sacrifices, I write to you, asking you to face God in prayer, before you take the step which will destroy the joy and the freedom of our people.

Our people, as you know better than I are God-fearing people. In whatever way you approach them, that presence of God the fear of God, is there. Today all over the country everybody feels insecure because the very life of freedom of conscience is being touched. Religion is not something you and I can touch. Religion is the worship of God therefore, a matter of conscience. I alone must decide for myself and you for yourself, what we choose. For me the religion I live and use to worship God is the Catholic religion. For me this is my very life, my joy and the greatest gift of God in His love for me. He could have given me no greater gift.

I love my people very much, more than myself, and so naturally I would wish to give them the joy of possessing this treasure, but it is not mine to give, nor can I force it on anyone. So also no man, no law, no Government has the right to prevent me or force me, or anyone, if I choose to embrace the religion that gives me peace, joy, love.

I was told that Gandhiji had said, 'If the Christians would live their lives according to the teaching of Jesus Christ, there would be no more Hindus left in India.' You cannot give what you do not have.

This new move that is being brought before Parliament under the cover of freedom of religion, is false. There is no freedom if a person is not free to choose according to his or her conscience. Our people in Arunachal are so disturbed. All these years our people have lived together in peace. Now religion is used as a deadly weapon to destroy the love they had for each other, just because some are Christians, some Hindus, some Tribal's. Are you not afraid of God?

You call him ISHWAR, some call him ALLAH, some simply God, but we all have to acknowledge that it is He who made us for greater things: to love and to be loved. Who are we to prevent our people from finding this God who has made them who loves them to whom they have to return?

I took the letter from page 157, Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography written by Kathryn Spink. http://www.minishorts.net/2007/06/


See also UNESCO's Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace

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