Is your mother holier than Mother Teresa?

August 3, 2010 | Uncategorized

Jesuit Father James Martin, one of my favorite writers, asks that question today in a wonderful post about our call to holiness, regardless of whether we are priest, religious, lay person.

Here’s my favorite part:

“Your own mother might be just as holy as Mother Teresa.

“That truth was underscored a few years ago, when my first nephew was born. The first night I spent in my sister’s and brother-in-law’s home after his birth was literally an eye-opener. At 2 AM, my infant nephew awoke squalling and screaming. It astonished me how loud it was, and how long he could cry. How could such a big sound come from such a small person? More to the point, seeing how attentively my sister and brother-in-law cared for their child erased any and all thoughts of whose life was “harder” or “better” in the eyes of God.

“Traditionally, this was not always a widespread belief. In Catholic circles, at least, the idea of a ‘vocation’ was seen, in decades past, as something reserved almost exclusively to priests, brothers, and sisters. And it was seen by some as ‘higher’ than the life of the average layperson. When I was in Sunday school as a boy, we were given a drawing to color in. One side featured a drawing of a married couple, and underneath it the word ‘Good.’ On the other side of the page there was a picture priest and nun. Underneath the two of them, it read: ‘Better.’ Like that mistaken sentence in the new book, it was seen as a ‘somewhat higher level of commitment.’

“Everyone is called to lead a different kind of life, in fidelity to whatever his or her vocation is, and to strive for sanctity. How do these vocations arise? Most often from our own strong interests, natural desires and and heartfelt attractions. A physician is interested in medicine. A lawyer desires the life in the legal world. And Catholic nun is attracted to life in a religious order. Through these desires, God is able to work, and fulfill God’s desires for the world. A ‘call’ may be of supernatural origin, but it usually manifests itself in some natural ways.

“A young mother, then, might be entirely unsuited to the kind of work that Mother Teresa did. But Mother Teresa might have been unsuited for the life of a married woman. (Her constant intransigence in the face of any and all disagreement with her way of doing things might have proven something of a challenge for a husband!) Everyone is called to be holy in their own way.”

Please go read the post in its entirety (there’s a back story) by clicking HERE. And thank you, Father Jim, for this beautiful message.



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