Monday, November 24, 2008

Loving God and Others

I was thrilled to receive this book for my second review for The Catholic Company. I was eager to learn more about Mother Teresa and to make a connection with my own life.

I know it's taken a long time for me to write this review. Partly that was due to the chaos that was our life when it arrived. (Chaos seems to be a theme around here. The first review took forever because the book arrived the day Second Daughter was born. This one arrived right after we closed on the house. Hopefully my life settles down a bit now. Oh wait...maybe after the holidays.) A large part of the delay, however, was how much time I spent reading the book. I found myself rereading sections because they were so thought-provoking. I needed to make sure I was concentrating on what I was reading (a difficult task with a preschooler, a toddler and an infant, even when they're asleep because then I'm just as exhausted).

Early on, Father Langford encourages us not just to admire Mother Teresa, but to learn from her and apply those lessons in our own lives, right where we are. As he says, no one in the world is exactly positioned to meet the people we meet each day. There's no need to go off to India, or even an inner city. There are people yearning for light all around us. For me, this was great encouragement, not just to really see the people around me and meet their needs, but to take the time to become more like Christ, just as Mother Teresa did. It's so easy to think it's too hard or too time consuming. Father Langford provides concrete steps, including some guided meditations, to help us on our journey.

This is not really a book about Mother Teresa. It's a book describing her encounter with Jesus and how that transformed her life. Father Langford has really done a tremendous job translating that transformation for us.

She has shown us that, as the burning desert yearns for water, God yearns for us. And the God who thirsts for us is not hard to find, since he dwells in our soul as his temple, and comes in the palpable disguise of our suffering neighbor, making it easy for us to find the unsearchable God, and to come face-to-face with Christ. For whatever we do in love, we know that "we do it to him." Our smallest acts of love reveal, for all the world to see, the mystery, the reality of God's thirst for man, and of man's thirst for God.

Small acts of love abound here on the Range--opportunities to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and clean up after others. That's all part of the daily grind for a mother with young children. If I pay attention, there is much holiness to be found in serving my children.

I especially loved Father Langford's comment that Mother Teresa strove always for those she served to see the face of Christ rather than her own. I often think of myself as a representative for all Christians, that I should be aware those around me are indeed judging all Christians based on my behavior and so I should be ever-vigilant. Her desire was much more, a desire to be so open to Christ and His love, that He could be seen in everything she did. Can you imagine how extraordinary it would be if my children could see Christ in my face as I cared for their needs? That would be much to pray for, indeed.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. I have not received any payment for this review, but I did receive a free copy of the book Mother Teresa's Secret Fire by Joseph Langford.

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