Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Remembering a Saint
The photo is one of my favourites of the two icons. It was kind of unfortunate that Mother Teresa passed into the heavenly realm five days after Princess Diana's shocking death. The attention was still on Diana, which prompted a debate while I was at BYU about who deserved more attention and recognition. I was shocked to hear the judgemental attitudes against Diana, including such "non-Mormon words" as "whore." Whore?!? Okay, so no one in the Christian Western World liked her involvement with Dodi Fayed (what was she thinking?!?)...but to call her that? I mean, she wasn't Madonna or Eva Peron. She was stuck in a loveless marriage until her divorce in 1996. She was obviously well loved, perhaps one of the most popular people on our planet. No small feat. She presents quite a contrast to Mother Teresa, who was humble, lived in poverty, and not known for being a physical beauty. The opposite of Diana. But, I don't think it's accidental that they died so close together, as I felt then (ten years ago), that Mother Teresa was grief stricken by news of Diana's tragic death that her body just broke down. I believe Mother Teresa had that sort of compassion.
I can't remember when I first heard about Mother Teresa. All I remember is people saying things like, "I'm no Mother Teresa..." or "Who do you think I am? Mother Teresa?" That's how I came to know about her...through people's statements like that. I read a few years back that before her, it was Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer (sp?) that people used as a reference for "saintliness." Mother Teresa happened to be the living saint in our lifetime that people used as a measuring stick for living a completely selfless life.
During my "atheist period" (1990-1993), one of my shocks in talking with self-proclaimed atheists was a harsh judgment towards Mother Teresa. These Ayn Rand types didn't believe anyone had true motives. They believed that all people had selfish interior motives and they believed that Mother Teresa was only doing what she was doing because she wanted to become an official Saint in the Catholic Church. I simply couldn't believe that about her. I've met selfless people before. One thing that is missing is an ego. People have varying degrees of ego...many have a lot of it, very few have little of it. What's hard to believe that a person could be completely selfless in their desire to serve others? It was one example of my distaste towards people who were atheists (what I call the "Ayn Rand atheists").
A recent Time magazine has a cover story on Mother Teresa and her shocking years of doubts about God. Wow...what a contrast between our beloved president! Despite her doubts about God hearing her prayers, she continued to serve the poorest of the poor on our planet. In contrast, Bush claims to have no doubts, as he believes God speaks through him as he continues his incompetent war that is killing thousands and thousands of lives. Give me Mother Teresa and her doubts any day.
I hope the past ten years in the heavenly realm has blessed her for the kind of life she lived and suffered for on earth. It's not easy to devote your life to serving the poor and the afflicted. But thank God someone feels called to do it. Our president should take time to reflect on her life and learn from it. Despite what people think...Mother Teresa is a saint and a perfect example of living a life of service.