You may know this already, but Mother Teresa is being canonized in Rome this September. Granted, it’s one of those “um, yeah, we all knew she’s a Saint” kind of canonizations, but it’s still a really important moment in the Church.
I mean, if this little old nun who literally picked dying people off the streets of India, removed maggots from wounds, offered the sacraments, fed the hungry, and allowed the poor and forgotten to die with dignity and joy — if this woman isn’t a Saint, well then there’s very little hope for us, amiright?
I mean, we should give up right now…because I still grimace and moan about my three years olds dirty diapers…oh, the white martyrdom of my life…oh poor me, I haven’t slept through the night in 15 years, boo hoo…my nails are a mess…I have mummy tummy….look at that laugh line…wahh, wahh, my life is so hard.
My little pity parties are one of the reasons why I need to get to know people like Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa stands in direct contrast to what the world is telling us is important, and the more you spend time getting to know people like Mother Teresa, the easier it is to resist the lies that are out there.
The world says, “thou shalt have no wrinkles, or cellulite, or any signs of aging…no, just no…because when you grow old, you become irrelevant…and you must stay relevant…if only you would buy that creme or those red-bottomed heels, or Zumba more, then you would be happy!”
And then you look at pictures of Mother Teresa, a wrinkled, hunched-over little nun, who was hardly a beauty; clearly, she wasn’t running off to Sephora for the anti-aging creme, but when people looked into her eyes — they saw Jesus — they saw Beauty, itself.
If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, it’s hard growing older. And if I look in the mirror, I can see that (gulp) I am getting older, and in a few short years, I’ll be looking in the mirror, wondering who that old lady is looking back. My Aunt Edna used to say, “growing old isn’t for sissies”, and she was right!
But if this life was all we had, if there was no eternity, then I could more easily justify all the time, the money spent on trying to hold back the hands of time — But this isn’t the end, it’s only the beginning! And instead of fighting a battle that will eventually be lost to time, sickness, and death, why not focus on the things that are lasting?
Mother Teresa didn’t say a lot about beauty, but what she did say speaks volumes:
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing”.
Have you tried smiling at the people around you? Even for those of us in the shy and introverted camp (you know who you are), we can smile. Try it, right now, I know– kind of weird, but somehow you just feel better, right?
But sometimes the hardest people to smile at are in our own homes. You know, as much as you love your family, they can drive you crazy sometimes. How often do I smile at my own husband and children? We have a very important job to reflect God’s love and mercy, and the way we look at our children, is the way they see God looking back at them. If we are harsh and mean, what message are we sending to them?
Hey, we’re all human and we all fail, so don’t beat yourself up with that mom guilt if you’re feeling bad right now. Don’t do it! Just begin again! To make you feel better, even Mother Teresa spoke to her spiritual directors about her own struggles to be kind to her Sisters.
She often reminded the Sisters, women who had hours of their day dedicated to prayer and the sacraments, to be kind:
“Be kind to each other-I prefer you make mistakes in kindness –than that you work miracles in unkindness. Be kind in words — So much suffering –so much misunderstanding, for what? Just for one word–one look–one quick action–and darkness fills the heart of your (Sister). Ask Our Lady during this novena to fill your heart with sweetness”.
Wow, I have never actually asked Our Lady to fill my heart with sweetness –and a novena to Our Lady for the sole intention of filling our heart with sweetness? That’s brilliance, people, and that’s why we need to know this woman!
I like make-up and pretty clothes as much as the next girl, but it can’t be the end of my efforts. A pretty face is nice, but not when mean, unkind words come out of it. So let’s go reflect the Beauty that never fades–let’s be kind and sweet to the people around us! Let’s do this thang!