Friday, November 6, 2009

Leave Mother Teresa Alone

Over at First Things, under the First Thoughts blog, Joseph Bottum posted about the latest attack on Mother Teresa by the oh-so-tired Christopher Hitchens, whom I never really read (o that should discredit me right there for saying anything about him, right?), but am sick of hearing his mad rant against my God and my belief. I don't hate him, I'm just annoyed at the pattern of juvenile behavior, the frothing at the mouth. Let's just say that he doesn't believe what Mother Teresa believed, why not leave her alone? After all, she's dead. Even when she was alive, all she did, from a non-believer's point of view, was to work and live with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta. Yes she gave speeches against abortion and artificial contraception, even while receiving the Nobel Peace Prize; yes she built more than 200 convents around the world, but she didn't make either her personal crusade. She didn't spent her life protesting in front of the abortion clinics, attacking the UN or the Planned Parenthood, she wasn't a social worker or a CEO of the Convent Inc.. Her critics use the standard templates they learned from their college sociology classes (Can you say "cheese"?), the hackneyed utilitarian narratives. Mother was much simpler. While they see the poor as "masses," she saw each an individual. She didn't see herself any different from the followers of Christ since the times of the Apostles. She heeded the call to love the poor, the same love she gave the rich. She was called to holiness, the crown of which is Charity. She wasn't called to eliminating poverty, certainly not to reducing population. When the poor were abandoned and dying in the streets, she took them in, helped restore their self-awareness of being human, to be with them at their last breath. She wasn't a social worker. How deaf can we be not to hear that? Of her own holiness, she said that she wouldn't have lasted a day had it not been the Holy Hour she made daily in front of the Eucharist.

Shouldn't there be better threats and dangers that Mr. Hitchens should concern himself with, than attacking a God he doesn't believe in, and a dead, old, woman in white and blue sari? I've seen others like the Hitch (as he's known among those who feel affectionate toward him even they don't agree with him, as if he's some kind of a Prodigal Son in the making), who are angry, although I'm not sure at what: God, or the non-existence of God; the annoyance that others believe that there is a God, or just at his plain self-loathing.

My real question is: What is it about Mother Teresa that's SO UNDER HIS SKIN that he can't leave her alone? Why is she a THREAT?

Note: So many seem to think, some with glee, that the recent revelation of Mother's years of Darkness has undone her holiness. I, for one, am grateful that the author of that book gave us the truth of a saint struggling with her spiritual aridity. The deeper the darkness, the poorer the soul. When the pain is too deep to bear, nothing short of Truth would do. Honestly, I'm a little annoyed at those stories which paint the saints' life, especially childhood, in Easter bunny type of pious colors. I find myself dying to ask: is this for REAL? I loved it when Mother Angelica told her biographer, Raymond Arroyo, that if he sugar-coated her story, she'd pray him 40 more years in Purgatory!

Note note: on second thought, Mother Teresa is a threat, so is every Saint, so is God.

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