Monday, September 05, 2016

The Schoolmarm

DavidWarren has an essay on Mother Teresa, pointing out that before outsiders made her an icon of charity, she was a schoolmarm:

She was a school marm, on top of her other virtues; she had been principal of St Mary’s convent school, in Calcutta... She was officer-class: could command obedience. I interviewed once Sister Nirmala, her successor (who died last year, age eighty-one). She assured me that our twentieth-century Saint Teresa was no putz. Her nuns had to deal with lepers, with the dying, with abandoned babies, and hard-case orphaned kids. This is entirely unlike a vacation.
Nobody elected Mother Teresa. The only permission she got was from her (male) superiors. Having got this permission, she then went, precisely where the Spirit led her: from the modest office in her nice clean school into the darkest, dankest slum.

Those who nit pick her for minor problems like taking money from the corrupt rich (Uh, Zaccheus anyone?) ignore that for years before anyone ever knew her, she was teaching street kids in the slum, changing bandages of lepers, and caring for the dying.

I first heard about her a year or two before Malcolm Muggeridge made her famous: One of my fellow docs during training belonged to the order who ran hospital in India where she trained to do basic nursing. This sister never met her, but only could shake her head at the folly of working in the huge slums, where thousands were living on the street.

Reality check: a lot of the complaints against her are by those who never walked the walk, or are using  university hospital standards of 2016 to judge her care of the dying decades earlier... and overlooking that the only alternative was to die on the street.

Reality check: It's not like in the movies you know.

Street kids are not the happy orphans of filmland: They are sociopaths, feral kids who are street smart from necessity, often getting high and stealing everything in sight.

Dying people don't just need their hands held but careful feeding and being cleaned up.

as for lepers: I remember when we had a patient with a terrible (and odoriferous) foot wound and asked one of our sisters if she thought it could be leprosy. She barely looked at the wound, but explained: It didn't smell bad enough to be leprosy.

I remember when Mother Teresa retired, and was asked what she would do now: She replied: well, I am still good at cleaning latrines.

Hmm...religion not as a warm fuzzy but serving God in the boring duties of our daily life. Who wudda thot? LINK

We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, “I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.” And this is our strength. This is the joy of the Lord.

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