I've been reading about Mother Teresa lately. She's someone I really admire. Did you know that she started life in a wealthy eastern European country? That's just a few hundred miles from Bulgaria... where my darling is.
There are so many things that I like about her. The fact that she cared for orphans is just one of them. I also love that she focused her care and attention on those that the world often overlooks... the poor and the dying.
What surprises me is the criticism she received.... particularly about the hospices that she founded. Critics say that she was too focused on comforting the dying instead of trying to heal them. They say that if she really wanted to help them she should have founded hospitals instead.
The thing is... hospitals are for the living. They don't want the poorest of the poor. They want people who have a chance of surviving... and paying for their treatment. That's not a criticism of hospitals. It's just how they work. Mother Teresa's focus was on those who were turned away from the hospitals... those who were left on the streets of India to suffer and die alone. She offered them shelter and comfort. It didn't matter if they were Christian, Muslim, Hindu or any other faith. There was a place for them, those who had no place in society.
She said she was called to help the poorest of the poor. And she did that.
The funny thing about her critics is this... none of them founded the hospitals that they said SHE should build. None of them offered healing or comfort to the dying like she did. They fed no one. They held no hands. Her critics were journalists who did nothing to help the world in any real way. They wrote books and articles. They shouted their opinions to the media. But that's all they did.
What she did was more that speak and write. She went out and held people. She fed and clothed them. She found homes for orphans and gave mothers a place to give birth in safety. She and her sisters held the hands of the dying and helped them find peace and comfort before they passed away. She made a real difference in the lives that she touched.
She set an example for us all. The sad thing is... most of us who admire her don't understand the example she set, or WHY she did the things she did. Most of us seem to have missed the message entirely.
You see, she understood that the smallest things mean the most. She knew that she couldn't just sit back and expect others to do the little things that need doing in order to make the world a better place for us all. She followed the example and philosophy of Saint Therese of Lisieux, a 19th century Carmelite nun who pioneered the "Little Way". The Little Way was focused on doing small things, with great love, for God.
Our society today is almost completely focused on the "big picture". There is little interest in the small things. "The ends justify the means" should really be the motto for our governments and businesses here in the west. Small things and great love seem to be forgotten entirely.
I haven't finished reading about her, yet. But already I understand why many people consider her a modern saint. I wish more people could understand who she was and what she really did. The world needs more true heroes... more people who understand that the small things done with great love are the things that really matter in life.