Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mother Teresa - An Authorised Biography by Kathryn Spink

When someone asked me what I would like for a birthday present, this book was one of the first to pop into mind. I had heard a friend briefly mentioning that she was returning a biography of Mother Teresa to the library a couple months back and that was quickly forgotten, or so I assumed. In recent weeks, I was hanging out with a group of friends and someone mentioned about the poverty of Mother Teresa, how it is contrary to the prosperity gospel so talked about today, that piqued my interest and I thought I'd like to find out more about it if I ever had the chance to. And so, I promptly asked for this book after checking with my first friend which version it was that she read (there are quite a few books written about Mother Teresa).

I must say this book is really inspirational! Even though we share different callings, Mother Teresa's beliefs spurred me to deepen my faith and trust in an invisible God. I think what I gained most was her telling people to "create something beautiful for God" and her informing another that "I can do what you can't do, and you can do what I can't do." Such simple truths, yet so meaningful at the same time.

The book chronicles her life from birth till death and the details of everything in between is compiled into chapters according to various theme, sometimes chronologically. The writing is smooth yet detailed, and makes for easy reading. We learn how she was born into a family of three children where her father died unfortunately when she was 8. Yet, her mother continued to serve the poor in her neighbourhood, and this left a deep impression on the young girl Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu who would later take her religious vows, adopting the name to Mother Teresa.

We learn about how she travelled first to Ireland to learn English before settling in Calcutta where she was to teach for 20 years. On a train ride one day, she received "a call within a call" to serve the "poorest of the poor". That's when everything began. After much trouble, she managed to found her order, the Missionaries of Charity, and began her work among the most destitute in Calcutta.

I think what most amazes me is how God provides and provided for her and her order. It grew so much in 50 years that it can only be God's hand at work and no one else. It intrigued me that out of the 4 vows they had to take, "poverty" was one of them, the others being "chastity", "obedience", and "to give wholehearted service to the poorest of the poor". Mother Teresa believed that poverty not just in spirit, but materially, would enable them to effectively serve the poor.

It is truly a humbling experience to read about her life and I would encourage everyone to grab a copy of the book not only to satisfy your curiosity about who Mother Teresa was, but to learn to live a life filled with meaning and purpose.

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