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My Latest on Lapido — Mother Teresa

[ by Charles Cameron — writing about Mother Teresa as a balancing act ]

My latest post on LapidoMedia, Mother Teresa: the making of a saint, opens thus:

‘MOST blessed Father, Holy Mother Church, beseeches your Holiness to enroll the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta among the saints, that she may be invoked as such by all the Christian faithful.’

With these words, Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints petitioned Pope Francis to declare Mother Teresa of Calcutta a saint.

There are five stages in the Catholic Church’s ‘canonization’ – the declaration that a saint is in heaven, and that their name may be included in the roll of the names of saints.

In my article I write, “As with many people considered especially holy, Teresa’s life has often been discussed in terms of hushed veneration – and also harshly criticised by the unimpressed.” I’m not too convinced either by the hagiography with which the Church tends to surround her, nor with the vituperatuve criticism with which Christopher Hitchens, her chief detractor, attacks her.

I have tried to write Teresa up in a way which balances the two. In my own quiet way, and reading it somewhat between the lines, my article attempts to bridge the two by suggesting that her specific “charism” or gift — the “wavelength” of love of which she is, for the Church, the examplar — was explicitly to bring spiritual, not medical, love to the dying, and that she accomplished this task, while her failure to accompany it with sound, even basic medical care — her clinics, for instance, commonly reused needles without sterilizing them — was the cause of much of Hitchens’ criticism, and has indeed been remedied by her order of nuns since her death.

Christian theological discussion often distinguishes between the Historical Jesus and the Christ of Faith. It may well be that the historical Teresa will stand as a warning to missionaries to be adequately prepared for the proper medical treatment of those to whom they minister, while the Teresa of faith can be a beacon of hope and love in the lives of many. We can hope that the order of nuns she founded, the Missionaries of Charity, will take note of her work at both levels.

Read the whole piece here on the Lapido site.

3 Responses to “My Latest on Lapido — Mother Teresa”

  1. Grurray Says:

    I loved Hitchens’ sharp wit, but his criticisms of Mother Teresa amounted to complaining about the quality of the life preserver thrown to a person drowning in the middle of the stormy ocean.
    Here’s what I’ll always remember about Mother Teresa. The summer after Reagan was shot, she visited him in the White House, this poor little sister meeting the leader of the free world. We now know Reagan’s injuries were more serious than the public was led to believe, and he was actually lucky to survive. Despite outer appearances, there must have been a torrent of strong feelings among Reagan and his inner circle.
    Mother Teresa counseled him with this thought:
    “You have suffered the passion of the cross and have received grace. There is a purpose to this. Because of your suffering and pain you will now understand the pain of the world. This has happened to you at this time because your country and your world need you.”
    This is the real motivation of the critics. She believed there was a divine purpose behind suffering. She was right, and they never forgave her for it.

  2. Grurray Says:

    What I mean by that analogy (written in the end of the day rush) is that as long as the life preserver floats we can worry about specific protocols later. I see it as a triage issue. Maybe in the world of our idealized dreams we should expel all the rich Californians and Japanese Yakuza from Cedars-Sinai and admit all the poor Indians in their stead, but that’s not how the world works. Considering the alternatives in real life, I don’t believe the Missionaries of Charity did all that badly.

  3. Charles Cameron Says:

    God, I hate the thought of board certified MDs doing moral triage..

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