Hating Mother Teresa
Subtracting Christianity: Essays on American Culture and Society — I’ve always resisted calling Mother Teresa a saint, not because I had any reason to doubt her holiness, but because I felt it was presumptuous to call any living person a saint. Besides, I suspect that a truly holy person — holiness being inseparable from humility — would hate being venerated in this life.
Now that she is gone, though, it seems safe to say it: if Mother Teresa wasn’t a saint, it’s hard to imagine what one would look like. She not only lived, to all appearances, a holy life; she actually enlarged our conception of what such a life can be. She found joy in a kind of charity most of us would never dream of attempting, and in an environment we would dread setting foot in. Her example drew thousands of others to imitate her.
Born of Albanian parents in Macedonia, she felt called, as a young nun, to help the extremely poor in Calcutta – chiefly to comfort the dying. Her mission began obscurely; fame came much later, and unexpectedly, w
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