In recent weeks, as we’ve celebrated her feast day and the 101st celebration of her birth, we’ve been pondering the life and amazing contributions of a tiny woman who made a huge impact on our world. While the Church refers to her as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, many of us already believe her to be a “saint”.
Hers was a life that played out before our eyes. We drank in photos of her looking with great love at the poorest of the poor, or diminutive in stature, hand-in-hand with Princess Diana. In any situation, her eyes shone brightly with the love of Christ.
Many of us have her words of wisdom committed to our hearts — they form an underpinning for the work we do in our homes, our parishes, and our communities. Her reminder to us to do “small things with great love” has given many a mom great hope — unlike her, we may never serve the poor in the streets of Calcutta, and yet this Mother to us all helped us to put in perspective the ways in which we too are called to serve.
I don’t think I will ever take in enough information about Mother Teresa. The more I read of her life, her work, and even her own struggles with a “dark night of the soul”, the more I crave. So I was thrilled to be gifted recently with a review copy of TIME Mother Teresa at 100: The Life and Works of a Modern Saint. Written by David Van Biema and published in 2010 for the centennial of her birth, the book is enjoying a re-issuing in Spanish, thereby bringing its wonderful prose and amazing photos to a whole new audience who has undoubtedly loved and cherished Mother Teresa too.
David wrote me recently to share the book, giving a bit of an overview:
It’s only 20 thousand words, but they present the fullest and most serious short-form account of Teresa’s life. It contains a chapter by her postulator, Fr. Brian Kolodiechuk, M.C.; one by Jesuit author James Martin S.O.J.; one by a Susan van Houte, a Bengali orphan (now living on Bainbridge Island) whose life was saved by M.T. and who ran into her again decades later; a forward by Pastor Rick Warren (“Don’t just read this book. Let it change the direction of your life.”); and the rest by me.
Since our readers know what a huge fan I am of Father Martin, it won’t be a surprise to you that his stirring chapter “Teresa of Jesus” is likely my favorite chapter in the book. But what is perhaps most compelling about this look at her life is the photography. Before our eyes are photos of her as we never really knew her — among them a young “Agnes” at age 10, posed with the family she would leave behind. Mother Teresa at 100 is the type of book you’ll want to devour at once (a relatively easy read) and then leave in an accessible area of your home for your family to treasure. A “scrapbook” of her life, it is a primer for those of us who hope to — in our own littleness — make a true difference in this world.