As is the case with a number of books that have come out recently to help people reflect on the theme of mercy and how it can be applied to our daily lives, A Call to Mercy has fourteen chapters, each one dedicated to one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.
I've been highly inspired by all of the books I've read by or about Mother Teresa, but one passage in particular from this one jumped out at me. It pertains to the role and responsibility of writers:
"God has entrusted to you the joy of spreading the Good News that we have all been created for greater things, to love and to be loved. And so, whatever you do, whatever you write, make sure that you remember that you can make people and you can break people. You can give good news and bring joy into the lives of many people; and you can bring much sorrow to many people. So let us always remember that in writing there is always someone being drawn closer to God, or being taken away from Him...let us make one strong resolution that you, through your writing, will always spread love, peace, and joy." (p 153)
-Mother Teresa at a press conference in Tokyo, April 22, 1982
I admire the saint's frankness and her refusal to water things down regardless of her audience. We need more people like her who speak the Truth in a way that is loving, compassionate, and abundantly clear.
The founder of the Missionaries of Charity's devotion to prayer and service, tenderness and truthfulness in dealing with others moved and touched so many lives. Her example continues to surprise and challenge many people today. Her love and compassion were genuine and ran very deep. She was the embodiment of Christ for numerous people around the world. She gracefully handled so much suffering, hate, division, but she didn't harden her heart against people who hurt others by abusing, neglecting, or abandoning them.
I find it difficult to see others suffering and not harbor some measure of bitterness and anger towards those in a position to alleviate the hurt and harm being done. Mother Teresa had such a humble heart, and it was evident in how she treated everyone around her. She learned to embrace the sacrament of the present moment, and thereby, acknowledged when someone in her midst was hurting and sought to improve the situation, whether that meant listening attentively, giving medical assistance, staying with the dying, or admonishing the sinner without condemning the guilty person.
The many stories, testimonies, quotes, and anecdotes included in this book served once again to motivate me to become a living saint, not to shrink away from the suffering of others because it's scary, gruesome, and/or overwhelming.
The necessity of both prayer and service to others as a package deal is evident throughout. At the end of each chapter are some reflection questions as well as a prayer, usually one of the ones Mother Teresa was known to pray on a regular basis.
I highly recommend A Call to Mercy for those well-versed in the works and philosophy of Mother Teresa as well as those who are just learning about her life of prayer and service.