My Own Story
When Agnes Bojaxhiu was a child in Skopje, no one could have imagined that she would one day become something of a celebrity, let alone be officially recognised as a Roman Catholic saint. Her dramatic experience of being called, and determination to follow that through, would shape the rest of her life, and prove hugely influential on a global scale
- When I look back on my own childhood - however recent or far away that was – how much of the way my life has worked out as I, or others, would have expected?
- Can I identify any significant moments that informed the direction my life took – achievements or disappointments can each lead to wonderful possibilities
- As I look back on my life so far, for what am I especially grateful?
Public and Private
Like many of the heroes we’ve encountered in this series, Mother Teresa was a complex woman with a strong public persona alongside a troubled and painful private life, which she endeavoured to keep hidden. After her death, personal letters revealed her struggle with ‘darkness’ and a sense of God’s absence.
- A lot of us fear being ‘found out’ for who we really are, assuming that people will reject or ridicule us. What is it I keep hidden away for similar reasons?
- After an intense experience, came silence, and this left Teresa bewildered – had God abandoned her? Why was God silent? What part do my emotions or feelings play in my faith? To what extent am I dependent on ‘feeling’ God’s presence in order to believe?
- Mother Teresa maintained her outward life of prayer, contemplation and worship even when it felt that no-one heard or cared. What might be the benefits of maintaining rhythms of prayer or reflection in my own times of darkness, silence or emptiness?
Saint or Sinner
There is no doubt that Mother Teresa’s work touched the lives of vast numbers of people, and inspired many to respond, often sacrificially, in seeking to support or emulate her work. There is equally no doubt that the work she did, and which continues to be done in her name, is open to justified criticism. Her determination to enter the experience of the ‘poorest of the poor’ also meant denying them options available to the ‘rich’, such as washing machines. She did what she believed to be right, but perhaps lacked the ability to be self-critical when it came to her work. At the same time, she tried to see the good (or potential for good) in everyone.
- How do I view Mother Teresa? How well informed is that view? How generous or gracious is that view? How do I hold together truth and tenderness in my evaluation of her or others? How do I do so in my evaluation of myself?
- Jesus reminds us that it’s easy to see the speck in the eye of someone else and miss the enormous plank in our own. Do I honestly appraise my own endeavours? Am I brave enough to invite others to review or critique them with me? If someone wrote about my life’s work, would they record a saint, a sinner or a blend of the two? How would that affect the way I live now?