It’s okay if we’re not Mother Theresa

Last Sunday’s sermon focused on the call to holiness and what keeps us from striving for that holiness. Yet, I felt that the sermon fell short and while it was trying to motivate us to be holy, I’m not sure using Mother Theresa was the best example to rally people, towards the cause for holiness.

I felt this for a number of reasons. First of all, we’re talking about Mother Theresa here, a  woman who gave up everything to be with the poorest of the poor, the sick and the forgotten.  How many of us are willing to do it? How many even want to do it?

Secondly, I felt that using such a great future saint as a motivator only further discouraged people, rather than encouraging. I know I can never be like Mother Theresa, so why even bother? I’m clearly not capable of being that holy, because God would have called me to be a priest or religious if I was.

Lastly, I felt like this was the common stereotype, one I am trying so hard to correct with my students, that some vocations are holier than others.  You can only be a saint if you are a priest, or a nun, all other vocations fall short.  This is simply not the case, and only discourages the lay people from striving for sainthood because they don’t think it’s in their makeup.

I feel bad harping on my parish priest’s sermon, I usually enjoy much of what he has to say, and think he does a good job of articulating topics that are relevant to us, in a way that does not feel judgemental or condescending.  I’m sure he used Mother Theresa, because she is such a well known figure and close to so many people’s hearts.  Yet, I just felt, that if you were already in another vocation, such as marriage, you would have tuned out during this particular sermon. “Her” way to holiness is not something I can do, I have three kids at home to feed and take care of etc..

I think that the most encouraging thing you can say to someone is that you are called for greatness.  You are called in “your own” unique way to be holy.  Sure, what Mother Theresa did in her life was awe-inspiring, but what about the mother with four kids under the age of five?  Isn’t her life awe-inspiring too?

For myself, while I enjoy the stories of the saints, I don’t feel particularly drawn to many of them, and I believe I’m not, because their way to holiness is not “my” way to holiness.  I feel myself much more drawn to the young couples with children, especially the ones who have more than two. I know that God uses our desires to help us find our true vocation and perhaps the reason I am drawn to these young families, is because this is where my vocation lies, eventually.

I think Mother Theresa is an amazing person, and I don’t want to take anything away from her, but the call to holiness is for everyone and not just those involved in the religious life.  It’s too easy to say as a lay person, oh I’m married or single, holiness is not for me. Wrong! You are called to exemplify holiness in your career, in your families and the world that you live in.

“All of us must be saints in this world. Holiness is a duty for you and me.  So let’s be saints and give glory to the Father.” Mother Theresa


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2 Responses to It’s okay if we’re not Mother Theresa

  1. cinhosa says:

    Earlier this summer, I started reading short stories of the saints to my 8 year old son – through the iMissal iPhone app 🙂

    Like you some of them do not resonate with me. However, I have found many interesting lessons in a daily reading of the life of a saint. Saint Teresa of Avila (today’s her memorial) was fascinating. I am particularly inspired when I read about people with non-religious vocations (e.g., married) that help me realize that great sacrifice and humility lead to great things.


  2. I didn’t know the iMissal app included stories about the Saints! That’s an app I should look into getting. I have the iRosary which is a great app too 🙂


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