If you have a chance, I would suggest reading our new Archbishop’s column this week in the Catholic Spirit. Mother Teresa has long been a hero to me and her words and actions have blessed me and considerably deepened my faith. Like many of you, I was shocked by the reporting that followed the release of her private letters and thoughts. At first, I was angered by the release and worried about the effect of the letters to Christians and Non Christians alike. I have since had the time to read some of the letters and commentary. I came to a conclusion much like that of our new Archbishop.
Archbishop Nienstedt states “First, I believe that we must get rid of the notion that being good and growing in holiness will guarantee us a more comfortable, tranquil life. In fact, just the opposite should be expected. If we are growing closer to Jesus, we will be called to share more fully in his sufferings and experience "the loss of all things" (Philippians 3:8) in order to be found in him.”
This message is not one that is popular in our country and many European countries. We live in culture of death and a culture that is embracing a “Gospel of Prosperity”. “Christian” churches continually pop up that embrace and promise “prosperity”. It does not take a biblical scholar to find multiple verses in the Bible that talk of prosperity and success when one lives a “Christian” life. One can take scripture and twist it to rationalize almost any action.
Unlike my grandparents, I have had an easy life. I cannot comprehend the depression or the sacrifices made during the World Wars. It is no wonder that Church participation continually drops to record lows. My generation has been lulled to a spiritual coma that comes along with good fortune and a very limited need for prayer or even faith. Prosperity does not always equate with a true relationship with the blessed trinity.
Mother Teresa could have had it easy. She taught in a wealthy Catholic School and had all she ever needed. Instead, she followed the voice of Christ and entered a thirty year stage of her life that would constantly witness suffering and death. Her actions pointed millions of hearts toward God. We have found out that the more she did the more she suffered. Her physical sufferings were many but now we know her spiritual ones were even greater. Mother Teresa knew she was doing what Christ asked but so longed to hear his voice say just once, “well done, my faithful servant”. I truly believe Mother Teresa has finally heard these words. I only hope and pray that I will also hear the same.