This has got to be one of the greatest books of all time. I doubt many will even hear about it, let alone read it, because it will be put into the RELIGION/SPIRITUAL section and I am pretty sure not many venture there, even if just browsing. Religion and faith are such hotbed topics today that people steer clear of all things related to it, except for within their own protected circle of whatever they believe in (worship services, mass, etc.).
This book calls to our human selves, our hearts, our capacity for compassion and love and our ability to use the gifts we have been given. It does not ask you to do anything that Mother Teresa has not done herself. There are no unrealistic expectations, unless put upon you by yourself.
Specifically, the book goes through the Works of Mercy individually, highlighting how Mother Teresa performed each one with stories told in her words as well as testimonies from those who were either helping her or on the receiving end of her endless love and compassion. It also illustrates the importance of her canonization during the Pope’s “Year of Mercy.”
What strikes me in every chapter is how Mother Teresa always DID things – by that I mean she didn’t just sit around hoping that someone else would go out and help the poor, the abused, the hungry, the sick, the dying, the imprisoned. She went out and did anything and everything she could do. She also prayed actively and with purpose. She knew that even helping just one person was one person more that was loved and cared for. She recognized that her calling was to do the things that others were less likely to do like care for lepers and those with AIDS and give dignity to the dying (and so much more).
She was not afraid to ask for what she needed to accomplish her goals and it seems that she always found a way to do what she felt she needed to do.
A few poignant comments throughout the book (summarized by me):
- When you wonder if you should help someone who you think may not deserve it, you say “I do it for you” – that is, you do it for God, not for the person and certainly not for yourself. You do it for God (whoever that is to you) and let the rest go. Don’t worry if your money will be used for what you’d like it to be used for. Don’t worry that the food you give will only last a meal so why give anything? Just do it for God and let the rest work itself out.
- Every person deserves to be fed – whether that’s actual food, spiritual food, or food for the soul, we all deserve that human right. Loneliness actually seems to be more of a yearning than actual hunger to those who are hungry and alone. Hunger for human connection, for human acceptance, for love and compassion – these things are so easy to give, free to give, and have a lasting impact.
- You always have something to give. A woman went around washing people’s clothes because she felt she needed to give something and that’s all she had – her ability to wash clothes. If you can donate food, do so. Donate time – find a shelter or group to help out at. Donate what you have and give, give, give. We forget/don’t know what it’s like to be hungry, homeless, alone, so give what you have and you will be rewarded.
- Be concerned with what you can do today – feed someone in need for they may not survive to tomorrow. Say hello and give a human connection to someone on the streets. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
- Be the first one to say sorry, even if you’re the one to be wronged. Have the love to forgive and the humility to forget (or do your best to do so).
- Pray. Pray daily, hourly, weekly. Pray for those you love, those you don’t know, those who’ve wronged you, and for the dead as well. Pray for your family and your children. Pray for yourself. Pray and talk to God.
There’s no requirement to believe in any particular religion. No requirement to be wealthy, to be educated, to live in a certain area, or to be a certain kind of person. There is a requirement to give, to love, to have mercy, to serve those in need, and to find it in your heart to accept and forgive and love.
This book is more than I could write here so I encourage you to check it out – it’s in hardcover, softcover, ebook, and even as an audiobook. Whatever you prefer, just check it out. You’re life won’t be the same after reading/listening to it, in the best way possible.
I’m looking forward to reading her other works. There’s so much to learn from this wise, humble woman. And I’ve a long way to go to even accomplish a finger’s worth of her works.
A Call to Mercy at Penguin Random House
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.