Father Langford wrote an article for Advent for the Washington Post (Dec. 23, 2008):
"Mother Teresa and God's Recovery Plan"
While the challenges of Mother Teresa's life may seem to have little to do with us in 21st Century America, this may be less and less the case in years to come, as the many-sided specter of crisis looms over our nation and world.
Who will teach us to deal with these previously unknown trials? What solutions will there be for us--besides escape, the hollow promises of a prosperity gospel, or the secret of "attracting abundance"? Mother Teresa's secret was quite another: more robust, reliable, and real; born of the most powerful force in the universe--the only One to have faced death and overcome it forever. The God-man whose light shines still gentle and strong in our collective night.
As the years go by, Mother Teresa's challenges may seem less foreign and her solutions more meaningful, even vital. Our common human plight has become our bond with her.
She would tell us that we are each equipped by God to not only survive our personal Calcutta, but to serve there--to contribute to those around us whose personal night intersects our own. If she could face the worst of human suffering, all the while bearing her own pain, then we can do the same in the lesser Calcutta that is ours.
She has taught us the divine alchemy that turns our personal hardships into compassion for others, our lack of material goods into wealth of spirit, and, should it come to that, the loss of our standard of living into the chance to become what ease and abundance would never have allowed us to be.
Mother Teresa's lessons will prepare us, as no political or economic programs can, to live through our trials with grace, and to turn them into blessings for others. If this simple, humanly un-extraordinary woman could have filled Calcutta's slums with such love and energy and ingenuity, then we can learn to do the same in our life, no matter what may come.
The history of those whom we call the saints reaches back to the beginning of all things, when on the first day God said, "Let there be light." This does not refer to the light of the sun, which was not created until the fourth day, but to God's own light. Adam and Eve were created to inhabit and embody that first light. According to Jewish tradition, after the Fall, God left a trace of original glory on the body of Adam and Eve. At the tip of their hands and feet, God left slivers of flesh dipped in light, translucent tokens of that first light that is still our destiny. Something as humble as fingernails would be God's reminder to us of the transparency that once was ours, and of the light from which, and for which, we were made.
The saints of today, like Mother Teresa, are sent for this same purpose. They are that small sliver of humanity, dipped in God, that still shines with his light. Their lives beckon us back, calling us to our senses and our source, as God called out to Adam after the Fall, "Where are you?" They reflect here and now the luminous face of our first parents, coming forth fresh from the hand of God.
Witnessing to this light in the midst of darkness would become the focus of Mother Teresa's entire vocation. God sent her to "be his light" in Calcutta's night, the dimensions of which transcend mere geography. She was asked to share this universal "night" in her own soul, and she did so without wavering. It is precisely her share in this inner night that made her not just a teacher, but a guide--a companion on our own journey into light.
Read it on the Washington Post site»
Order Mother Teresa's Secret Fire here»