Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Momma T*

I have been reading the new and somewhat popular book “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light” as edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk. It is primarily a book of compiled writings and communications of Mother Teresa and her various church superiors dating back to 1928.

This book was fairly popular media fodder because of the two or three chapters where Momma T expresses her “darkness” and overall doubts in everything. Or as I call it: the blues. Or the shit.

Go figure: she was human.

But what struck me far more than the darkness topic was her overall preparation for living and serving the poorest of the poor and its accompanying waiting period.

Admittedly, I know little about Catholicism other than the negative information my evangelical faith troupe taught me while growing up. But I developed an overly fair respect for Catholics a few years ago when I was involved with a ministerial contraband operation with a little catholic church on S. 8th and Jeanette Street. They were amazing. I still have no overt respect for church government or hierarchy in general. But my current view of Catholicism is: they can keep their religion, but I’ll back up the way they serve the poor any day.

Through this book, I learned that Momma T’s original assignment in Calcutta, India was that of a school teacher in which she served for 19 years. She had visited the Calcutta slums occasionally and built a relational heart for the poor over a period of years.

While on holiday in 1946, she received a vision from Jesus about her living amongst the poor slum dwellers and serving them as opposed to her teacher assignment. The next 2-3 years were months of begging and pleading with her superiors to start this new mission, despite their initial brush off, and discipline testing.

I know it was only 2 or 3 years before Momma T actually began the Missionaries of Charity that she became known for. But I imagine that period was hell. The waiting. The desire. The knowing that she heard the CEO in this, despite what her earthly commanders would allow of her.

And leaving her order of nuns to do this new mission was no small event. To leave the “loreto” nuns (a specific order of nun, I think), Momma T had to renounce vows made 19 years earlier. Which is the equivalent of getting a divorce. It was a big deal.

I think this book showed me clearly that sometimes following the CEO’s call means completely blowing apart man’s system of religion and that a waiting period is always part of that game. Always.

*this nickname was borrowed from one Shane Claiborne


ahbahsean said...

I have this book on reserve from the library and still haven't read it. Ugh. Jealous you got to it before me.

Yeah, I don't understand how Hitchens, etc got all overwhelmed because she had moments of doubt. Instead of being like "even Mother Teresa struggled with doubts, I'm not alone!" they questioned her sincerity and work. Crazy.

Agent B said...

Hey Becks.

Yeah, this book was always absent from our library. I finally had a reserve placed on it. And I've got like 7 days to keep it (an incredibly short amount of time for me to read any book). I am on the computer and not reading it...