Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mother Teresa and Me

I realize now that the title to this post makes you think I have a dramatic Mother Teresa story like those one you sometimes hear. But no, I didn't cross her path when I was 12 years old and decide to become a nun then and there. Nor did I eat, pray, love my way through India and happen upon her houses and made a radical conversion to the Faith. Although, both those stories would be awesome and I hope someone is writing those memoirs for me to someday read!

But I have been thinking about Mother Teresa lately because of her upcoming canonization, and I've come to the conclusion that her words have really had a profound effect on my life. Not that her words have so much as dramatically changed my life's path, but they really have helped form my view of vocation, kindness, and what attitude to have in life. Which are pretty big things when you start thinking about them.

I think I picked up her phrase "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindest in your eyes, kindness in your smile" early on. For some reason it really stuck with me. Maybe because I've never felt naturally empathetic or compassionate, something about this quote struck me that the little things I do can matter -- and even I can smile.

I'm the first to tell you that my every encounter with every person in my life is not blessed with Mother Teresa's compassion, but I can smile! The first step on the long road to becoming a saint with Mother Teresa's compassion may be smiling at the stranger, smiling at the person who gets on your nerves the most, smiling when you child asks you for the 600th time for raisins.

"Where God has put you, that is your vocation. It is not what we do but how much love we put into it." This kept me going through much second guessing, soul searching, wondering what would become of me in my early years, and even my early married years when I was trying to figure out just what this vocation would mean for me. These words hold a beautiful simplicity that's easy to go back to when things feel complicated and confusing. Mother Teresa's wisdom was poignant and simple, a sure testament to her holiness I think.

"Where does love begin? It begins at home. Let us learn to love in our family. In our own family we may have very poor people, and we do not notice them, We have no time to smile, no time to talk to each other,. Let us bring that love, that tenderness into our own home and you will see the difference." I think these words have shaped what I want my home to be, and have given me direction when I feel useless at mothering. My work is important. Even if I cannot be rescuing the dying off the streets of Calcutta, and I can still participate in the same calling to love as Mother Teresa. Isn't that an crazy and amazing aspect of our Faith? That even though we're not spiritual giants or devoted our entire lives to heroic feats of compassion, that we can still live the same way the saints do? That's really what faith does, what living a life of love does. I need to keep reminding myself of this often when the little things around my house feel like drudgery or even meaningless; the love of a home and of a family are so important.

I've been both inspired and refreshed by this wonderful book Works of Love Are Works of Peace. The photographs of Mother Teresa, her sisters, and their work are staggeringly beautiful. It is so revealing to see them caring for those who otherwise would never have experienced love, but also to see the human faces of those whom she helped. I think we are all blown away by the way Mother Teresa served others and lived her life and that's why her words carry so much importance and meaning. The chosen quotes and prayers of Mother Teresa go along perfectly with the beauty of the photographs, together it brings about a wonderful testament and experience of St. Teresa of Calcutta. This book would really make a wonderful gift for the Mother Teresa fan in your life(we all have em!) or just a personal tool in your own prayer life. I'm so looking forward to our Church celebrating St. Teresa of Calcutta as part of the Communion of Saints!

Ignatius Press gave me a review copy of this lovely book for review, but my opinions are entirely my own!

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  1. What a neat boom Christy!! I LOVE Momma T...Like I'm totally geeked about watching the live stream this Sunday. This is something so simple, and beautiful that speaks to so many different people, ya know? :)

  2. Looks like a beautiful book! Those quotes are lovely. Smiling is so simple, but it can be super hard. Like 3yo-just-flushed-a-whole-roll-of-toilet-paper-on-the-roll-hard.

    Have you seen Katie's coloring pages? Another good way to mark the canonization. :)

  3. This is an absolutely beautiful and inspiring book! The photographs are moving and give you an inside look at the life and mission of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. It is filled with the words of Mother Teresa. I will cherish this book.

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