As Christ’s kingdom is not of this world then we should not be surprised that the world holds confused ideas about our newest saint – Mother Teresa. Anyone who starts off writing about her as a ‘brand’ reveals both his hand, and his inadequacy for the task he has been set. Her views were, we are told ‘unpalatable’. Good. Had she advocated abortion on demand, euthanasia and the abolition of religion, the world would have praised her ‘palatable’ views: the culture of death does not like to be reminded that, historically, it is its views which are ‘unpalatable’; still, its advocates are dying out, and unless it can make fresh converts, eventually it will achieve its existential aim – it will cease to exist.
The cynic sees in her fame a marketing exercise. This is the same mindset that sees ‘Brexiteers’ as people not fit to be trusted with a decision that only the elite can be trusted with. Such is the solipsism in which this mindset exists that is fails to get to first base on realising that it its own many failures which has brought people to the point at which they no longer believe the ‘spin’. The admiration St Teresa of Calcutta inspires is to do with something so simple that it takes very clever people to miss it. She lived among the poorest and most neglected of this world and she showed them God loved them. To judge her as though she were an NGO is to begin with the wrong yardstick. The world may not understand the love of God, and it may not be interested in it, but if its wise men and women are going to judge a Saint, they need to begin by understanding that simple fact; she was a light in the darkness.
Since her death we have discovered that she herself underwent a long dark night of the soul – but instead of discouraging her and driving her in the direction of unbelief, she used it to empathise with those who lived with the darkness of this world, and she brought love to the unloved, care to those for whom no one else cared; and she witnessed to God’s love, even though she, herself, felt far from it. When they have lived among the poor and spent time helping them, that will be the moment for the armchair welfarists to make their comments and expect some respect. But those less inclined to think their views are the yardstick by which to measure others understand something the wise men and women of this world don’t – they recognise simple goodness and saintliness. In the old days saints were made locally and sometimes there would be a cry for that to happen at their fineral – we heard it with St John Paul II ‘santo subito’. The ordinary people of the world recognise what those who elect themselves as their spokesmen and women are too cynical to see – which is that she was a saint who cared: and that goes a long way with those who know that what this world needs is more people like her and fewer like her critics. She helped others; they help themselves.