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Being Christian by Maxie Dunnam

Often, when I’m teaching the Christian faith, I ask people to name one person who best communicates the meaning of the Christian faith and way. One of the persons that is most mentioned is Mother Teresa. I have probably read as much of what others have written about her and her own writing, as I have about any other “hero of the faith.” I know a lot about her but I did not know her personally.

I met her once. She came to Memphis to dedicate a convent of her Missionaries of Charity. There was a great worship service and celebration of Mass in the Coliseum with over eight thousand people attending. A “holy hush” fell over that huge gathering as she and her sisters entered. 

My wife and I were fortunate to be among a few the Bishop invited to meet and be blessed by her after the Mass. My experience in that service and her hand on my forehead blessing me is a lifetime memory. I understood, in that brief encounter, how she became the influence she was in Malcolm Muggeridge’s conversion.

Muggeridge wrote one of my favorite books about her. He was a brilliant newspaperman in Great Britain and an antagonist of the Church and the Christian faith. Late in life, primarily through the influence of Mother Teresa, he was converted to Christianity and became a powerful defender of the faith. He spoke of Mother Teresa in this way, “In the face of a Mother Teresa I trace the very geography of Jesus’s Kingdom; all the contours and valleys and waterways. I need no other map.”

He had seen her and her Missionaries of Charity in the slums of Calcutta go about Jesus’s work of love with incomparable dedication. He wrote, 

When I think of them, as I have seen them at work and at their devotion, I want to put away all the books, tear up all the scribbled notes. There are no more doubts or dilemmas; everything is perfectly clear….What mind has conceived a discourse, or tongue spoken it, which conveys even to a minute degree the light they shine before men?

I wish I had known her personally. I met her only once. With Muggeridge, “In the face of a Mother Teresa I trace the very geography of Jesus’s Kingdom.”