review: TO LOVE AND BE LOVED: A PERSONAL PORTRAIT OF MOTHER TERESA b Jim Towey, Simon & Schuster
The adage is clear: Don’t meet your heroes because they’ll likely bring you down.
Jim Towey, the faithful friend and longtime lawyer of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was unfazed when that happened to him. A top Republican Senate aide, whose sanity was rocked by the suicide of a close friend, Towey was trying to fill a hole in his soul when he wrote a ticket to India in 1985. At the time Mother Teresa was as popular as any rock star, recognized and respected for her groundbreaking work in treating leprosy in India and AIDS in America. He built a religious order that attracted thousands to imitate his devotion to helping the poor.
Towey tells us in his book To Love and Be Loved, he shamelessly used his political connections to meet Mother Teresa for the first time and that was the moment that changed his life. He found the woman, born in Albania, to be dangerous, someone who showed good, hope and filled his empty spiritual bucket.
“In an instant, I knew he was everything I wasn’t,” he wrote in a memoir about their 12-year friendship. “He was focused, hopeful, happy – I was amazed at how completely alive he looked.”
Towey has produced a short but insightful book about the Catholic Church’s most famous saint in modern times, a woman whose dedication to the poor and abandoned remains a calling. urgent as it was when he founded his Missionaries of Charity almost 75 years ago. What Towey plans to do is cement his reputation in a world that is, in many ways, increasingly materialistic, violent and unequal.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, in what is now Macedonia, the thoughtful young woman left her home at the age of 17, and traveled to Ireland to join a noble order of nuns then traveled half way across the world to India to dedicate herself. to poor people in Southeast Asia. By the time of his death in 1997, his religious order was established in more than 30 countries.
Towey was drawn to voluntary service with the Missionaries of Charity in the late 1980s. He then became the legal advisor of the order. Her book describes some of the ways she helped build Mother Teresa’s reputation as she walked the tightrope between the secular world and the saints. Within its pages she helps paint a more complete picture of a woman often described in hagiographic terms.
Towey provides stories about Mother Teresa’s stubbornness as she grew older to accept doctor’s orders, her sweet tooth – in her last days she enjoyed her favorite cake, for example – as well as his strong insistence that suffering is the way to know Jesus.
For Catholics like me who have followed her journey to theology and holiness, Mother Teresa’s years of doubt about God and her own calling are good references – after her death, her Confessions he wrote and wanted to keep secret. Towey describes this spiritual struggle as an example of how we as living beings can relate to the struggles of a saint.
But Towey’s book withholds one important aspect of Mother Teresa’s life: She does not explain how the nun responded or reflected on the critical criticism that her care and actions have brought to the masses. of years.
Mother Teresa broke taboos in the course of her work. She and the MC sisters paid attention to the millions of people who were forgotten and ignored in their own society: AIDS patients who died alone in Washington DC, orphans of families called “untouchability” in India. In many ways his MC promoted hospital care. But he and his religious order were investigated and punished because of the lack of sanitary conditions and found uncertainty and pressure to change, even if the medical conditions and duties of care were progressive.
Towey dismisses Mother Teresa’s detractors by reducing them to psychological expressions of their political views. moving forward and left should not be considered. “In all the years that I have represented him, he has never defended himself in front of people against false stories or slandering him. He felt that God would defend his name if He needed it,” Towey wrote. However, it is difficult to understand that point of view, when some critics pointed out that the Missionaries of True Love kept poisonous medicines from diseases, and the sisters themselves were in danger because of the lack of sanitary conditions in MC areas. In those cases, those who believe that the name of Mother Teresa must be protected to the detriment of the safety or well-being of the people she wants and her order helps to intervene.
History has shown that moral and spiritual leaders shine brighter when their weaknesses are revealed as well as their successes. Towey describes Mother Teresa who was not afraid to ask for forgiveness in her daily interactions. In terms of instructions or wrong organizations, however, it remains far away and is a problem.
In recounting the 12 years of his relationship with Mother Teresa, it is clear that Towey hopes to keep her memory alive lest the worldly gods of history destroy her mountain of good works. For Christian readers, the book will probably accomplish that. For those who do not believe, or people who doubt the divine status, the book will not be able to bring them closer to this extraordinary woman.