With the recent news that Mother Teresa will be canonized by Pope Francis, I thought I would share a few thoughts about what I know about her.
While the Orthodox Church doesn’t recognize Saints outside of the Eastern Orthodox Church, we can certainly see Christ at work in people who have set their life toward Him.
Her attitude and life are very Orthodox.
One can look to her interview by Time Magazine to see her attitude toward her life in Christ.
Christ tells us to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Mother Teresa took on the task of BEING the neighbor. She sees Christ in those in need. She allows others to see Christ in her.
In Orthodoxy we teach that our life on Earth is about becoming Partakers of the Divine Nature. We do this by feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and caring for the sick. By showing love to others we are showing love to Christ. We cannot be saved alone–we are called to serve others. On our own we can only be damned.
Orthodox Theology teaches self empying, kenosis. This is the putting aside of earthy desires and empying ourselves, so that we can be filled with Christ. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).
Mother Teresa in her Time interview described herself as a pencil in the hand of a writer. She is only an instrument, allowing herself to be a vehicle of Divine Grace–to be used by the author as He sees fit. She allowed herself to be a tool in His hand. She has lived the example of the Christian. We must also see Christ in others. If we see others this way, how would that affect our relationships with our fellow man?
She did not worry about yesterday or tomorrow. She did not track numbers or converts–that is for Christ to decide, she said. She just did her job and let God worry about the details. She prayed always and always talked about her love for Jesus.
She spoke out against abortion–at Harvard of all places. She was booed, but it did not phase her.
Time: You and John Paul II, among other Church leaders, have spoken out against certain lifestyles in the West, against materialism and abortion. How alarmed are you?
Mother Teresa: I always say one thing: If a mother can kill her own child, then what is left of the West to be destroyed? It is difficult to explain , but it is just that.
Time: When you spoke at Harvard University a few years ago, you said abortion was a great evil and people booed. What did you think when people booed you?
Mother Teresa: I offered it to our Lord. It’s all for Him, no? I let Him say what He wants.
Time: But these people who booed you would say that they also only want the best for women?
Mother Teresa: That may be. But we must tell the truth.
Time: And that is?
Mother Teresa: We have no right to kill. Thou shalt not kill, a commandment of God. And still should we kill the helpless one, the little one? You see we get so excited because people are throwing bombs and so many are being killed. For the grown ups, there is so much excitement in the world. But that little one in the womb, not even a sound? He cannot even escape. That child is the poorest of the poor.
And so, if we believe that in Orthodoxy, we have been given absolutely everything–The Kingdom–should we not also offer this type of witness and service to the world?
Hers is the type of witness that is reflective of a loving God.