Friday, August 27, 2010

Would Mother Teresa Have Wanted the Fanfare?

August 26, 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa. Much has been written about this giant of a religious sister who was as petite and unassuming as any woman could be. Her credits are too numerous to mention, but she did not seek the lime light -- the lime light came to her.

Again this light of honor and praise was trying to reach Mother Teresa to commemorate the anniversary of her birth. The Catholic League had requested that the Empire State Building be illuminated to reflect the colors of Mother Teresa's order, The Missionaries of Charity. The building would have sported a bright blue and white. However, the request was denied by building's owner.

Not that I wouldn't want to see Blessed Teresa of Calcutta honored, but was this the most proper tribute to such a humble, yet formidable figure? Many have been honored by such a display of lights and for a variety of reasons. The Associated Press reports that it is a tradition to light the sky scraper in honor of special events:
Illuminating the 102-story Manhattan skyscraper in different colors is a tradition. The building, a centerpiece of the city's skyline, has been lit up for the release of Mariah Carey's album in 2008, for the 25th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 2009, for religious holidays such as the end of Ramadan and Easter and for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Would Blessed Mother Teresa really have wanted the fanfare? Wouldn't she have picked up the little bucket that held the few belongings she owned on this earth as an example to all -- witnessing to her vows of poverty, chastity and obedience -- and offered a better use of those resources for the protection of the unborn, the sick, the marginalized? Would a more fitting tribute to this special woman, who prays for us now in heaven, have been a conversion of heart and a greater commitment to the cause of life?

I recognize that this was a wonderful opportunity for evangelization, however, there was no lack of opportunity to celebrate and share the amazing life of Mother Teresa on her birthday with others. Special events were planned throughout the country and the world to honor her humble yet awe inspiring life and works.

Perhaps it was not anti-Catholic sentiment at all that thwarted the effort to emblazon the Empire State Building in honor of Mother Teresa; perhaps she had a hand in it herself. Why? I can only speculate, but I imagine that from heaven she was letting the world know that "it is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters." The magnitude of this action, although I'm certain it was sought after with great love and devotion, may have been just too grand. Mother probably would have better appreciated an effort to feed the hungry, to nurse the dying, to save a baby from abortion through her intercession for the love of God.

While, in her life time she was awarded the Nobel prize, met with world leaders and given a great amount of publicity, her vocation never changed. She did little things with enormous love and let her work flow from that love of God. That is the example she leaves; this is the tribute she deserves -- our increasing love of God and neighbor.

Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for an increase in love for Jesus and our neighbor for all of us!

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