One of my all-time favorite Mother Teresa quotes is:
"I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look only at the individual. I can only love one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one. You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other. As Jesus said, 'Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.' So you begin...I begin. I picked up one person - maybe if I didn't pick up that one person I wouldn't have picked up the others. The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if we don't put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less. Same thing for you. Same thing in the church where you go. Just begin... one, one, one."
I have used portions of this quote twice in formal ways to thank people for their presence in my life. The first time I spoke to a group of over 300 Catholic campus ministers at their national convention and told them that I was there to represent just one of the college students whose lives they touched. Then, I wrote an article thanking our homeschooling group for taking the time to make my family feel so welcome, trying to demonstrate that our family is just one of the many families embraced by the community.
This weekend, however, the Lord brought this quote to my mind when I was struggling. I have been dwelling on how my prayers and sacrifices on behalf of others could be worth anything. I thought about how weak and unimportant I am and how much conversion the world needs. In my journal I wrote, "My efforts are nothing."
The Lord then reminded me of the single drop in the ocean and how important that drop is, that He holds that drop in existence for a singular purpose. For the first time, I was the person adding a drop to the ocean. I felt like satan was trying to make me feel like my efforts are useless, so that I would stop trying. He wanted to discourage me from continuing my feeble efforts to pray and sacrifice for sinners and for priests. The focus on my failings was taking me away from the tiny acts of faith I was able to muster but which had infinite value.
In fact, as I prayed, I could see how the ocean could be, in fact, the ocean of Christ's blood shed for the redemption of all and that indeed my drop of "blood" was powerless without being united to that of Christ. Truly, the Lord does not need my offerings to save souls, but if I unite my meager sacrifices to His Ultimate Sacrifice on the Cross, then He will be able to heal more people because He is God.
If you think that the prayers and sacrifices you offer as a mother in the hidden monastery of your home are not worth enough to save the world, think again. Each one is a single drop added to the vast ocean of God's mercy. Each diaper changed, each hour of fasting, each biting of the tongue - these do have worth when offered to the Lord.
Thank you, Jesus, for reminding me of how much you love me and value me. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!